Duane Patterson was up early covering this horrendous, cowardly attack from the west coast but the updates show that it was far worse than originally reported. The last update from local law enforcement tells us that the dead number more than fifty and the injured more than 200. That’s more than San Bernardino, more than Bunny Friend Park, more than the Waco biker gang shootout, more than the Pulse nightclub. NBC News is reporting that, at least for now, multiple law enforcement agencies have buttoned down the scene and are hopeful that it is over, and the shooter, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, is indeed dead. But so many questions remain to be answered.
More than 50 people were killed in the worst mass shooting in modern American history when a “lone wolf” gunman opened fire into an outdoor country music festival from the 32nd floor of Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Sunday night, police said.
More than 200 people were injured in the mass shooting as performer Jason Aldean was on the stage, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said at a news conference.
The gunman was identified by law enforcement officials as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a resident of Mesquite, Nevada.
Police responded to reports of the shooting just after 10 p.m. (1 a.m. ET), and the suspect was fatally shot in the Mandalay Bay Resort, officials said.
Authorities found several weapons in Paddock’s hotel room, law enforcement officials reported. It was not immediately clear what kinds of weapons were located.
If you’re not near a television, here’s some of the latest updates from the scene.
It will no doubt take time for authorities to piece all of this together, but if there’s one saving grace in all of this it’s that Las Vegas was, as usual, swarming with law enforcement from across federal, state and local levels. They were able to quickly mobilize, locate the shooter and eliminate him, but sadly not until he’d done massive damage.
Among the questions we’ll need to answer is where Paddock got a fully automatic weapon. Listening to the videos recorded during the shooting, that wasn’t a semiautomatic being fired quickly. That was fully automatic fire. Paddock was also not firing like someone with military training, where you learn to release short, controlled bursts of a few rounds. He was holding down the trigger and emptying the magazine, then reloading.
It’s possible that Paddock, being in his sixties, could have had a grandfathered permit to legally own such a weapon or even held one of the rare permits which are still available today. Other possibilities are that it was illegally obtained on the black market or even one that he modified himself from a semiautomatic rifle. Once we learn the answer to that question we’ll have a better idea of how much planning went into this. It clearly doesn’t look to be a spur of the moment thing, but then again, breaking out a window more than thirty floors up and opening fire on a packed audience doesn’t involve a lot of logistics.
The other big question is, of course, why? Paddock doesn’t fit the typical profile of most mass shooters. He doesn’t appear on paper to be someone who would be linked to international terrorism. He’s also far, far older than your average shooter. And a country music concert also doesn’t seem to fit the profile of a target of interest. More likely it was simply a convenient crowd with a lot of targets.
While early information is frequently incorrect, NBC is reporting that people who knew the shooter said that he was in the process of (or recently concluded) divorcing his wife. (Not the “roommate” they took into custody.) It’s possible that this was a domestic crisis gone terribly, terribly wrong and Paddock had simply lost it. As I said, it’s still far too early to pin that down.
Our prayers go out to the families of the deceased and the wounded. Paddock’s cowardly act will mark one of the darker days in our history.
UPDATE: (8:40) Fox News is reporting that Paddock had set up video to let him know when the cops were approaching his room. He was dead when they entered the room, apparently having killed himself. Also, they were able to locate the room he was shooting from so quickly because the shooter fired so many rounds that the smoke detectors in the room went off.
UPDATE: (9:30) Another detail emerges. The shooter had ten or more rifles in the hotel room. That adds a new wrinkle to the questions about the logistics involved. The police still aren’t saying whether he used them all, but if he did use most of them, why? Did he feel the need to have them all lined up, empty one and pick up the next? Given the effort to lug that many rifles up to the room, assuming you have access to all this equipment, why not just bring one rifle and a dozen magazines? Perhaps you could see bringing two in case one jams, but ten simply makes no sense. As I said above, still far more questions than answers.