Investigators scour for motive after Las Vegas mass shooting

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02.10.2017

Shooting at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas

Police are searching for clues to what led a 64-year-old man to kill 59 people and injure 530 more in Las Vegas. The FBI has said there is no indication that the gunman had ties to international terror groups.

A lone gunman holed up on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel sprayed bullets down on the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas late on Sunday, killing at least 59 people.

Las Vegas police reported that more than 530 others were taken to nearby hospitals, as a stampede of festival-goers scrambled to escape the scene.

The preliminary death toll, which officers said could rise, made the attack the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. It is higher than the death toll in last year's shooting at an Orlando nighclub, in which 49 people died.

Las Vegas police said SWAT teams used explosives to force their way into the gunman's hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, where they found him dead.

"We believe the individual killed himself prior to our entry," Sheriff Joe Lombardo told reporters, adding that police had found "in excess of 10 rifles," inside the room. Officers responding at the scene had reported over the radio facing fully automatic fire from the shooter's high vantage point.

Authorities identified the suspect as 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock, a retired accountant from Mesquite, Nevada, about 80 miles (128 kilometers) north of Las Vegas. Police believe he acted alone.

Read more: Who was Stephen Paddock, the Las Vega shooter?

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Devin Gray, eyewitness to Las Vegas shooting

How events unfolded

— The shooting began shortly after 10 p.m. local time (0500 UTC), interrupting a performance by country singer Jason Aldean, who was performing before a crowd of around 22,000 people. The music paused and then started again before another round of popping sounds sent the performers fleeing from the stage.

— The barrage of bullets lasted several minutes as thousands of panicked concertgoers fled the scene, seeking shelter behind barricades or beneath cars.

—  Las Vegas police responded in force, urging people to leave the area, cordoning off streets and swarming the boulevard with armed officers as they scrambled to find the gunman.

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— SWAT officers found him dead in a hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino where he had apparently used a hammer-like device to smash out the windows before opening fire on the crowd below, authorities said.  

Infografik Karte Las Vegas Schiesserei ENG

'An act of pure evil'

US President Donald Trump described the attack as an "act of pure evil" in a brief televised address to the nation on Monday.

"In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one. And it always has," he said from the White House.

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US President Trump reacts to Las Vegas shooting

Trump, who said that he planned to travel to Las Vegas on Wednesday, ordered for US flags at the White House and public buildings to be flown at half-mast. Later Monday, he led a minute of silence with his wife on the White House South Lawn to honor the victims.

International reaction

World leaders have been quick to respond to the events in Las Vegas, condemning the violence and sending their condolences to the United States.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed a letter of condolence to Trump, saying that she had learned of the news from Las Vegas with "shock."

"Our sympathy and condolences go to the relatives and families of the victims," Merkel's statement said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May called it an "appalling attack." Russian leader Vladimir Putin described the shooting as "shocking in its cruelty." UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was "shocked and alarmed," while Pope Francis said he was "deeply saddened" by the "senseless tragedy."

Catastrophe

Shooter targets crowd in Las Vegas

Police say 59 people have been killed and more than 500 injured in a shooting in Las Vegas. Officers were called to a music festival near the Mandalay Bay Casino on the US city's famous Strip late Sunday after reports of a mass shooting.

Catastrophe

People flee the area

The Las Vegas police department asked people to leave or avoid the area, while sealing off roads leading to the scene. People attending the Route 91 Harvest country music festival reported seeing and hearing what they described as automatic gunfire coming from the Mandalay Bay hotel.

Catastrophe

Gunman identified as local resident

Police identified the shooter as 64-year-old Nevada resident Stephen Paddock, but said they had no information about his motive. He reportedly had 10 different firearms in his hotel room, and police found more guns and ammunition in his house.

Catastrophe

Police says shooter killed himself

The suspect fired from a window on the 32nd floor of the Las Vegas hotel into the crowd gathered below, said Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo (pictured above). Police said the gunman likely killed himself before the SWAT team broke into the room.

Catastrophe

'It sounded like fireworks'

Some 22,000 people were in the crowd when Paddock opened fire, sparking a panic and a stampede. "It sounded like fireworks. People were just dropping to the ground," said one of the concert-goers.

Catastrophe

Police search

While Las Vegas police said they believed the suspect was the sole shooter, Lombardo said investigators want to talk with Paddock's girlfriend and live-in companion Marilou Danley. The Australian woman is reported to be traveling abroad - and has meanwhile been ruled out as a "person of interest."

Catastrophe

'Beyond horrific'

Several off-duty police officers had been attending the music festival and at least two had been killed, Lombardo said. Country singer Jason Aldean, who was performing when the shooting started, posted on Instagram saying his thoughts were with those affected. He described the night as "beyond horrific."

Catastrophe

Deadliest mass shooting in US history

The Las Vegas attack is the deadliest shooting in modern US history, exceeding the toll of 49 dead in an attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida in June 2016.

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A moment of silence

President Donald Trump on Tuesday called the gunman a "very, very sick individual." He ordered the American flags at all public buildings across the nation be flown at half-staff, and observed a moment of silence on the White House lawn. Asked about gun laws, the president said: "We'll be talking about gun laws as time goes on."

amp, nm/msh,gsw (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)