America is reeling from the worst mass shooting in its history after at least 50 people were killed and more than 406 wounded at a country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday night.
The shooting broke out on the final night of the three-day Route 91 Harvest festival, a sold-out event attended by 22,000 and featuring top acts such as Eric Church, Sam Hunt and Jason Aldean.
Police say the shooter was 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock, a resident of nearby Mesquite, Nevada, who opened fire on the festival taking place at Las Vegas Village from a room across the street in the Mandalay Bay Hotel at 10:08pm.
Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said that his officers breached Paddock’s room on the 32nd floor and found Paddock dead inside, among an ‘arsenal’ of 10 firearms. Lombardo said that Paddock shot himself dead.
Investigators are now raiding Paddock’s home in Mesquite, which he shared with a woman named Marilou Danley. Danley was initially called a person of interest in the shooting, but police no longer believe she was involved after contacting her early Monday morning and finding her out of the country. Police say it appears Paddock used her ID when he checked into his hotel on September 28.
Lombardo said investigations are still ongoing and police have not yet determined a motive. He was not believed to be connected to any militant group, Lombardo said.
‘We have no idea what his belief system was,’ he added.
President Donald Trump paid his respects on Monday morning after the shooting, writing on Twitter: ‘My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!’
Paddock is retired and often visits Las Vegas to gamble, his brother Eric told NBC News. Eric says police identified his brother through a wallet that was found on his body.
In an interview with DailyMail.com, Eric said that something must have happened to his brother to make him snap.
‘He was just a guy. Something happened, he snapped or something,’ Eric said from his home in Orlando, Florida.
‘We know absolutely nothing, this is just, we are dumbfounded.’
Police in his hometown of Mesquite say that they had no history with Paddock.
In a Monday morning press conference, Sheriff Lombardo said he was cited several years ago but said it was a ‘normal practice in the court system’. Lombardo did not give further details on that citation.
Terrifying footage from the scene shows concert-goers reacting with confusion and then panic as the festival turned into a bloodbath around them.
Video from close to the stage shows people hitting the floor as others crawl to safety or run for their lives. Audio from further back in the crowd captured several bursts of sustained automatic gunfire.
Witnesses said ‘hundreds’ of rounds of ammunition were emptied into the crowd, with Paddock stopping several times to reload as he carried out his massacre.
Among those shot dead at the concert was an off-duty Las Vegas Metro Police officer. Attendees said a large number of law enforcement and military personnel had been attending the show.
Two on-duty Las Vegas police officers who engaged the shooter have been hospitalized. One of the officers was critically injured, but is now in stable condition after undergoing surgery. The other officer suffered minor injuries. Neither have been identified. Two officers with the Las Angeles Sheriff’s Department deputies were also injured in the shooting. One is in critical condition and the other is in stable condition. Their names have not been released either.
All of the ambulances in the area were been deployed to the location, and victims taken to two hospitals.
One witness at the concert told DailyMail.com that a woman had entered the crowd with a male companion and screamed ‘They’re all around… You’re all going to f***ing die today’ just 45 minutes before the gunfire broke out.
The woman was described as being Hispanic and in her 50s; she and the man were escorted out of the venue by security.
Witness Breanna Hendricks, who was in Vegas celebrating her 21st birthday, said: ‘There was a lady who came running up behind us in the concert and she started to play with people’s hair acting crazy and she told us that we’re all going to f***ing die.
‘She said they’re all around us and we were going to die,’ continued Hendricks, whose mom Shawn Hendricks also witnessed the startling altercation.
‘She was Hispanic, probably about 5ft 5, brown hair. It felt like she had knowledge of what was about to happen, her and her boyfriend who was also Hispanic.
‘The woman was saying her boyfriend couldn’t breathe so they could get through the crowd.
‘It seemed she was telling us to either warn us or she was part of it and she was telling us because she knew we were going to die, it was so scary.’
It’s not clear whether what she witnessed is related to the shooting or not.
Video footage of the shooting shows performer Jason Aldean on stage as the automatic gunfire rings out.
Aldean continues performing for ten seconds as the gunfire rings out constantly, only stopping after screams begin to rise from the crowds.
People in the crowds argue over whether they just heard gunshots as the lights on the stage dim and Aldean and his band leave.
He later posted a message on Instagram that read: ‘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. #heartbroken #stopthehate’
Aldean was the closing act of the festival. Taking to Twitter, many other stars sent out their thoughts and prayers to those affected.
Jake Owen, who played the main stage before Aldean, tweeted: ‘Praying for everyone here in Vegas. I witnessed the most unimaginable event tonight. We are okay. Others aren’t. Please pray.’
Lauren Alaina, tweeted: ‘Praying for everyone at Route 91. That crowd was one of the best I’ve played for all year. This news is devastating. My camp is home & safe.’
The Brothers Osborne urged revelers to find cover immediately, tweeting: ‘Just hearing about active shooting at Route 91 Festival in Vegas. Take cover and get safe immediately! Prayers to everyone there.’
Singer Lee Brice, who performed on the opening night on Friday, posted: ‘Hearts out to Vegas. Route 91 concert, stage I played two nights ago. Musicians, fans, workers, you are all in our prayers right now.’
Michael Ray said: ‘My heart is breaking we were just there Friday! My prayers are with everyone.’
Witnesses said that the crowd initially got calmly down on the ground, but as more people fell to the gunfire, mass panic took hold and people began to stampede from the scene.
Speaking on a bus laid on to transport concert goers away from the scene, Lisa Price, 43, and Nancy Stover, 38, of Los Angeles said: ‘People were lying on the ground – I was like get up, you’re going to get trodden on.
‘We just heard like pop, pop, pop, pop and started walking – it was happening over and over again.
‘It was at least 20 shots. Enough for us to start walking, then running and panicking. Luckily, we seemed to be further away – we were at the front of the concert near the stage.
‘It seemed to be coming from the back. We were running to try to help people and they were coming from that direction.’
Other sobbing concertgoers told DailyMail.com that the gunfire was so intense, it sounded like July 4th.
Derek and Karen Bernard, from Los Angeles, California, were in town for the Route 91 country festival and were close to the stage when the shooting began.
‘We were inside,’ said sales manager Derek, 53. ‘All of a sudden, we saw the band disappearing – they were like running off the stage.
‘We were off to the left side of the stage, we were running off there and there were staff security there.
‘There was a woman bleeding – that’s when we realized it was real shots. She just fell. She was shot. There was a lot of blood.
‘It was so many – it sounded like 4th of July – just pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. So many. I didn’t think it was real because I couldn’t see or feel anything. I was so panicked.’
Professional poker player Dan Bilzerian, who was at the event, streamed footage of himself running. Noises that could be helicopters or gunfire could be heard in the background.
‘Holy f**k this girl just got shot in the f**king head,’ he said, ‘This is so f**king crazy.’
Hotel guests staying at the Mandalay Bay said they were woken by SWAT teams bursting into their rooms.
Brad Baker, 38, of Austin, Texas, was in Las Vegas for a conference. ‘I think it [the shooter] was on my floor,’ he said. ‘When they [the police] came into my room, I was totally out – I thought I was in trouble!
‘They yelled at me like, “Get some clothes on.” I got my shirt on but I left my phone, my wallet. When I came out of my room, they were telling us to run. I saw all the cops with guns. It was crazy.
‘I saw them run up the stairs – there were maybe like six people [police] on our floor. I was on the 32nd floor – they’re saying the guy was like four rooms down from me.’
Another witness said he was in the room next to the gunman when he opened fire.
‘I was in room 135 and I heard over the police scanner that the shooting came from room 137,’ said the man, who asked not to be named.
‘It was non-stop, I would say well over 100 rounds. We hit the floor and took cover. I called the front desk and she was remarkably calm and said she was aware of the situation and told us to stay in our room.
‘After around 10-15 minutes it just kind of stopped. You could smell the gun powder. Right before we got out I heard an explosion, maybe a flashbang, but windows were blown out.
‘The cops came on to the floor and they were clearing rooms room by room and six or seven cops came into our room and we were evacuated.’
Dozens were seen on aerial footage fleeing the Mandalay Bay, which was locked down, as police surrounded the location.
Unconfirmed reports were made of a suspicious vehicle outside the Luxor, and shots fired at other Vegas locations: Aria, NYNY and Tropicana.
The LVMPD tweeted: ‘Please avoid heading to the south end of the Strip. Las Vegas Blvd is shut down at Tropicana, southbound past Russell Rd at this time.’
Flights out of the city’s McCarran International Airport have started up again after initially being shut down during the shooting.
A concert-goer said he heard what sounded like fireworks while he was watching Aldean’s performance.
Kodiak Yazzi, 36, said the music stopped temporarily and started up again before another round of pops sent the performers ducking for cover and fleeing the stage.
As the 40,000 fans in the crowd began to flee, Yazzi took cover and said he saw flashes of light coming from the Mandalay Bay hotel tower high above.
The bursts of pops would start and stop for more than five minutes, he said, and dozens of ambulances arrived as he ran for safety. He later got a Lyft driver to take him home to suburban Henderson.
SOURCE: Daily Mail