By Aubrey Byron, News Editor
On the night of October 1 in Las Vegas, a gunman knocked out the windows of the 32nd floor of his Mandalay Bay hotel room and opened fire on a crowd in the streets below. The Route 91 Harvest country music festival was taking place on the streets beneath the hotel with more than 22,000 attendees. A confirmed 59 people were killed and over 400 injuries, per last report from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
Country music star, Jason Aldean, was playing as the gunman opened fire. Many crowd goers reported thinking the shots were fireworks at first. Then Aldean ran off the stage.
First responders and police were quickly on the scene of the shooting. Several reports have detailed how concert goers carried out injured people on bar carts and event tables.
Calls for gun control have resounded in the wake of the shooting by politicians and citizens alike. In a change of rhetoric, the National Rifle Association has announced their support for tighter restrictions of “bump stocks.” Bump stocks are an add-on that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire hundreds of rounds per minute. Twelve of the many rifles found in the gunman’s room had these additions.
Several Republicans, including John Cornyn of Texas who ranks as the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, have expressed support for a legislative ban or regulation on bump stocks. Sen. Cornyn stated he owns “a lot of guns” and didn’t understand the use of a bump stock. In the past, Republicans and even some Democrats have opposed any legislative gun control measures put forward after similar attacks, such as the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.
The gunman has now been identified as Mesquite, Nevada resident, Stephen Paddock. Investigators are still trying to identify a motive for the shooting. The culprit allegedly took his own life upon police entry to the hotel room. So far interviews with family members have revealed only stunned reactions.
“He was a wealthy guy… He liked to play video poker. He sent cookies to his mother,” said Paddock’s brother in apparent exasperation. He also described the feeling “as if an asteroid hit.” He has stated he is working with investigators but has no insight to the shooting.
Investigators have also been interviewing the girlfriend of the shooter who was in the Philippines at the time of the incident visiting family. So far police have said that she is no longer a person of interest or in any way implicated in his actions.
In a press conference, Las Vegas Police Sheriff revealed the shooter had rented a room overlooking an earlier festival called, Life is Beautiful in Las Vegas. The festival featured Lorde and Chance the Rapper in Las Vegas on the weekend of September 22-25. They have not confirmed whether this festival may have been an earlier target.
Typically past shootings have been politically, religiously, or personally motivated, such as the mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood in 2015, the shooting at an Orlando nightclub last year, and at Sandy Hook, respectively. So far investigators have no leads on the intent for the Vegas shooting.
The festival had security provided, but since the shooter remained outside the perimeter, he did not encounter any of the security measures. The open air festival provided little cover for attendees as they scrambled to get out of the line of fire. Many attendees threw themselves on top of loved ones to protect them from gunfire.
No legislation has been put forth for an official ban on “bump stocks” but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say a vote is likely.
A memorial service was held Thursday for Las Vegas police officer, Charleston Hartfield, who was among those killed in the shooting.