Las Vegas shooting death toll rises to 59, no apparent connection to international terror


Posted on: October 2nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(LAS VEGAS) — At least 59 people were killed and 527 were injured in Las Vegas Sunday night when a gunman opened fire on a music festival crowd from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. It was the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history.

The “nonstop gunfire,” according to one witness, sent more than 22,000 country music fans scrambling for their lives. Two sources familiar with the investigation said there was a combination of rifles and handguns at the scene, and one of the sources said there were 19 weapons in the room.

Terrified bystanders ducked, ran and then sprang into action, frantically caring for the wounded. Concertgoers who had just been enjoying the final night of the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, which was taking place across the street from Mandalay Bay, made makeshift stretchers out of police barricades.

As ambulances rushed to the scene, they plugged wounds with their bare hands and used their clothing to try to stanch each other’s bleeding. At least one man described a stranger who died in his arms.

An off-duty Las Vegas police officer who was attending the concert was among the dead, police said.

Jason Aldean was the headliner of Sunday night’s concert; video showed his rushing off the stage amid the gunfire. Other performers from this weekend included country stars Jake Owen, Big & Rich, Luke Combs and Dylan Scott.

In the wake of the shooting, the Las Vegas Police Department said authorities responded to a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, where police said the suspected gunman, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, was dead. Police said they believe Paddock killed himself prior to police entry.

Mark Mullen — who was staying on the 29th floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel — told ABC News that when the shots broke out, he was sitting in his room and listening to the concert while doing prep work for a conference scheduled for Monday.

Mullen said he thought the noise was fireworks at first, but when he looked out the window, he couldn’t see anything.

“The noise continued, but there were no fireworks, and it quickly became apparent what was happening,” he said.

The crowd would hunker down as the shots rang out and begin running again when they stopped, Mullen said. The crowd would then stop again as the gunshots resumed, he said.

From his vantage point, it wasn’t clear where the shots were coming from, Mullen said. But his colleagues who were staying on the 32nd floor texted him when they heard the SWAT team arrive, so he knew that something was going on at the hotel, he said.

Mullen could see sheriff’s officers walking through the hall with guns drawn through the spy hole in his hotel room door. He could also see a police helicopter flying very close to the hotel and shining a light near the shooter’s room, he said.

The motive for the attack was unclear. “I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath,” Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said at a news conference this morning.

Officials said this morning they have found no connection between the shooting and any international terrorist group. Officials added that the suspect was not known to law enforcement.

Authorities said the suspect checked into the hotel Thursday and that they are searching hours of surveillance video. Authorities said the suspect brought the guns in himself. Police said Paddock, of Mesquite, Nevada, had no criminal history, save a minor citation. Authorities believe the suspect used a device similar to a hammer to smash the hotel room windows.

Videos filmed by onlookers gave a window into the chaos that ensued as the gunfire rang out, with some thinking that fireworks were going off.

Witness Brian Claypool said on “Good Morning America” that after the first round of gunfire, he ran into a little room that he described as a production area.

“The hardest for me was, I saw six young women. They were maybe 20, 22. They were all crying on the ground. I was trying to be calm,” Claypool said, appearing emotional.

“I thought [about] the Orlando shooting,” he said of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting that left 49 people dead. “Because we were in this room. We didn’t know where the shooter was. We thought he was going to jump the fence and come in this room and shoot us all. … I’m thinking, ‘Am I going to die in this room?'”

Claypool said he tried to bring comfort to the young women who were sheltering in the room with him.

“I said to myself, ‘These girls aren’t going to die. I’m not going to die,’” he said. “’I need to get home to see my daughter. This is not happening.'”

“Then the shooting stopped,” Claypool said, “And I peeked out the front of the door … police officers scream, ‘Go! Go!’”

Concertgoer Mike Cronk told ABC News that as Aldean was playing, it “kind of sounded like some fireworks going off. I think there was the first kind of volley, and then all of the sudden second volley. My buddy’s like, ‘I just got hit, you know.’ He got hit three times. Then people started diving for the ground.

“It was pretty much chaotic,” Cronk continued. “Lots of people got hit.”

Cronk said EMTs and ex-military members hunkered down to help his friend and other victims stay alive. Cronk said he started to staunch his friend’s bullet wounds under the direction of a woman who was with them.

Stabilizing his friend as best he could, Cronk said he and four other people tending to the wounded attempted to get to a hospital by hopping into the bed of a pickup truck.

Cronk was beside himself with emotion as he described helping a badly injured man into a ambulance. The man ended up dying in Cronk’s arms.

Jasmine Barbusca, a mother of two, told ABC News, “All you heard were just gunshots. And every time the gunshots would come down, you just start getting to the ground. And when they would stop, you get up and you just try to climb the fence again. We finally made it over. We were running through the parking lot; everybody just ran through the streets.”

She said she was thinking, “‘I got to get out, I’m going to be dead in five seconds.'”

“There were men going over their wives, their girlfriends, to block them,” she recalled. “Unfortunately, those men got shot, but I mean, there was lives saved.”

Barbusca said she saw one man as he helped many women climb the fence to escape.

“I don’t know who the man was, but there was a man who probably saved a good 20 women’s lives. He was really brave,” she said.

Tearing up, she said, “How I did not get shot. By the grace of God. I honestly, we ran. I don’t know.”

An official with McCarran International Airport said “an airport perimeter fence near the concert venue was breached by people fleeing the scene of the incident” and airport staff “transported those people to the designated evacuation site.”

A spokesperson for Allegiant Air said about 30 people who fled onto the airfield were sheltered overnight at one of the airline’s facilities there. The airline said its staff helped people get clothes, charge their phones and contact loved ones.

Flights in and out of the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas were temporarily halted. The airport later tweeted, “With heavy hearts @LASairport is pressing on this morning with full operations.”

Agents for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have responded to the scene and the FBI is assisting with the investigation. ATF said it is “conducting an urgent trace” on the recovered weapons.

Eric Paddock, the suspected shooter’s brother, told ABC News, “We have no idea how or why this happened.”

“As far as we know, Steve was perfectly fine,” Eric Paddock said.

Authorities initially said they were looking to speak with a companion of the shooter, Marilou Danley. Police later said this morning that “detectives have made contact with her and do not believe she is involved with the shooting.” Police said she is out of the country and it’s believed the suspect was using some of her identification.

Mandalay Bay Resort tweeted, “Our thoughts & prayers are with the victims of last night’s tragic events. We’re grateful for the immediate actions of our first responders.”

The resort said in a statement that “law enforcement requested that we put hotels in the vicinity on lockdown to ensure guest safety.”

Police said family and friends looking for their loved ones can call 1-866-535-5654.

President Donald Trump addressed the public this morning, calling the shooting “an act of pure evil.”

Trump said he will visit Las Vegas Wednesday to meet with law enforcement, first responders and victims’ families.

“In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one,” Trump said.

He added, “In memory of the fallen, I have directed that our great flag be flown at half staff.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement, “The investigation into the horrific shooting last night in Las Vegas is ongoing.”

“To the many families whose lives have been changed forever by this heinous act, we offer you our prayers and our promise that we will do everything in our power to get justice for your loved ones,” Sessions said.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said at a news conference, “I don’t know if I have words to describe what we are going through. … We are angry, we are grieving, we are confused. People are hurting.”

“To the people at the concert, you see courage and compassion there,” Sandoval said . “People helping total strangers. Risking their own lives to help people. That really speaks highly to the character of America. “

Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt said at a news conference, “When you see one of these men and women who are wearing a badge, tell them, ‘Thank you.’ Their selfless actions saved the lives of hundreds of people. Not a dozen, but hundreds of people. This death count would have been many hundred more were it not for [their] brave work.”

Aldean, who performed at the country concert Sunday night, wrote on Instagram, “Tonight has been beyond horrific. I still dont know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that Me and my Crew are safe. My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night.”

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