It started as a country music concert.
It ended as a brutal mass shooting.
Country singer Jason Aldean was performing at the Route 91 Harvest Festival for thousands of people when calamity struck. Gunfire opened on the singer and his audience from nearby hotel Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Panicking, the crowds ran for cover, but not in time to escape the attack. 59 people were killed and 527 injured, according to the New York Times.
Later, the police identified the shooter as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, who killed himself after unleashing rounds of gunfire on the concertgoers. It is still not clear what motivated him to murder thousands — his criminal record is clear, according to the New York Times — but it is apparent that he’d planned for the shooting. “At least 23 firearms, including a handgun, were found in Mr. Paddock’s hotel suite, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.” One gun dealer told authorities he’d sold guns to Paddock, but said that Paddock’s purchase had been “legal in every way,” reports ABC News.
Even Paddock’s brother had not suspected this action. “We have no idea how or why this happened,” he told ABC News. “As far as we know, Steve was perfectly fine.” It seems that the Islamic State claimed the gunman was with them, but they ultimately had no evidence to support their assertion.
While the motive remains unclear, the suffering is plain. With so many deaths and casualties, the Las Vegas shooting of October 1st is officially the deadliest mass murder in modern American history.
At first, no one realized what was taking place. Witness Mark Mullen, featured on ABC News, said he thought the noise was fireworks at first. “The noise continued, but there were no fireworks, and it quickly became apparent what was going on.” Terrified, people fled, wildly trying to escape the unseen threat. Yet the danger also prompted heroic acts from bystanders who sacrificed their lives to save others. Witness Jasmine Barbusca, also featured on ABC News, saw one man help many women to escape at the risk of his own life.
Strangers attempted to protect each other and to treat the injured. Bystanders played a critical role in saving the lives of the wounded. Ordinary, untrained people turned into medics and administered any help they could.
At first, no major forces knew what was taking place, and reports were confused. When the police and fire departments did arrive, the firing was over and the top mission became getting the injured out of the area. Ambulances, private vehicles, and taxicabs transported the patients to nearby hospitals. Not all patients were rushed to the same hospital, which allowed for more lives to be saved, an event which the New York Times credits to luck. Barbusca knows better: she attributed her safety to the “grace of God.”
The Las Vegas shooting was sheer tragedy, but it prompted an overwhelmingly unselfish response on the part of civilians, who continued to help even after medical workers arrived. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval spoke of the “courage and compassion” demonstrated there: “People helping total strangers. Risking their own lives to help people.”
Americans have regrettably not always demonstrated themselves to be a notably selfless people. Yet in that moment when Las Vegas was under fire, bystanders denied their instincts and chose to help. As during the hurricane season, America focused on something worthy: providing assistance and comfort for those who needed it. The Vegas shooting precipitated love and compassion in Americans on that fatal night. Let us strive to display this caring attitude at all times!
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. -Luke 10:33-34a
Multiple Weapons Found in Las Vegas Gunman’s Hotel Room. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/02/us/las-vegas-shooting.html
After the Las Vegas Shooting, Concertgoers became Medics. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/15/us/las-vegas-shooting-civilian-first-aid.html
At least 59 killed in Las Vegas Shooting Rampage, more than 500 others injured. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/10/02/police-shut-down-part-of-las-vegas-strip-due-to-shooting/?utm_term=.1031ff8a4b19
Las Vegas shooting death toll rises to 59, no apparent connection to international terror. http://abcnews.go.com/US/las-vegas-shooting-death-toll-rises-59-apparent/story?id=50223240
Luke 10:33-34a. https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/luk/10/33/s_983033