It was the deadliest shooting in US history. So far, 59 people have been confirmed dead and 527 injured at Sunday night’s Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, across the street from the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas.
According to police, 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, sprayed a barrage of gunfire into an estimated crowd of 22,000 from the 32nd floor, where he reportedly killed himself before SWAT teams using explosives stormed the room.
Police say Paddock had an arsenal of 23 weapons in his Mandalay Bay suite, and they found 19 other weapons at his home in Mesquite. The owner of Dixie Gun Worx in Utah, where the shooter purchased one of his shotguns said he passed the federal background check and gave off no red flags on several visits to the store.
Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, however, described Paddock as “a distraught person intent on causing mass casualties.”
Authorities refuted a claim by ISIS that the international terrorist group was responsible for the mass murder. They did note that in 1968, his father, Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, was a diagnosed psychopath who escaped from prison on a bank robbery conviction and was on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list.
Paddock’s brother in Florida told media outlets that the shooting was a total surprise and that he believed he had no political motivations. He described him as a financially successful retired accountant who liked to gamble, particularly on video poker, sometimes betting as much as $100 a spin.
Police identified Haddock’s roommate, Marilou Danley, as a person of interest in the case. And though she was reportedly out of the country, in the Philippines, police say they have spoken to her and will speak more on her return, but at present have determined she was not involved in the attack.
Mayhem and Carnage
One concertgoer described being in a stampede where he witnessed people in wheelchairs being toppled in the panic. Another told of witnessing bloodshed all around him.
“I’m seeing girls and guys with blood all over them,” a man attending the three-day festival told People magazine. “I didn’t see anyone get hit, but I saw human beings, covered in blood.”
One well-known poker pro in the crowd found himself running for cover, and posting video to Snapchat amid the sounds of ongoing rapid fire.
“Holy f*** this girl just got shot in the f***ing head. So f***ing crazy,” Dan Bilzerian said in a video later shared on Instagram.
Garry Gates, a longtime poker media personality and current consultant to PokerStars also was at the concert.
“We were at the festival and near the front of the stage when everything happened. Very shaken and very sad,” he posted on Facebook.
Gates later took part in a blood donation drive that has turned out to be one of the positive events to happen in the wake of the tragedy. Interest from the Las Vegas community in donating blood was so overwhelming that authorities had to inform the public that blood donation centers were at capacity.
Panic from the attack quickly spread across the Las Vegas Strip. Doug Hull, owner of Red Chip Poker, was playing poker at the Mirage, 3.4 miles from the scene of the shooting, when chaos ensued amid a sudden unplanned evacuation.
“There was just this herd, this stampede that went through” said Hull, who had been following the situation on Twitter, where unsubstantiated rumors about attacks at other casinos spread.
He said he left $500 in chips on the table and found the best way out. “Once I was in the employee exit I just kind started herding people through,” he wrote. “People tend not to know what to do in these situations and just kinda freeze, so I just stood at an intersection and go, go, go.”
Country music star Jason Aldean, headliner of the Route 91 Festival, was two songs into his culminating set when bullets started flying.
Hours after the shooting, he posted on Instagram that he and his crew were safe, and calling the entire scene “beyond horrific.”