By Freddie Allen
(Editor- In-Chief, NNPA Newswire)
Las Vegas authorities have identified Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old White man from Mesquite, Nevada, as the gunmen in one of the deadliest mass shootings in United States history.
During a brief press conference Monday morning, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters that more than 50 people were killed and more than 500 people that were wounded during the attack were transported to local hospitals, according to The New York Times. Police have determined that Paddock fired on the crowd of roughly 22,000 attending a country music festival from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Sunday night.
“Online video of the attack outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino showed the singer Jason Aldean performing outside at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a three-day country music event, interrupted by the sound of automatic gunfire,” The New York Times reported. “The music stopped, and concertgoers ducked for cover.”
Authorities haven’t reported anything about Paddock’s motive; not much is known about the weapons used in the attack, although some experts have speculated that multiple firearms were used, including a high-caliber, automatic rifle.
Police have reported that Paddock died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
According to NBC News, “The brother of Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock was stunned to learn Monday that his relative was the suspected perpetrator of the largest mass shooting in modern American history. Paddock, who lives in Orlando, said his brother has retired to Mesquite, Nevada and spent his time at the hotels, going to shows and gambling.”
During an interview with NBC News, Paddock said that his brother, “was just a guy” and that the family was “completely at a loss.”
Monday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted, “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!”
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the American composer and playwright of the award-winning play “Hamilton,” also took to Twitter to share condolences for people affected by the tragedy in Las Vegas.
“Heartbroken by the news out of Las Vegas,” Miranda said. “Praying for those of us waiting for news from loved ones who went to hear live music on a Sunday.”
During an interview with MSNBC, Danny Tarkanian, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Nevada, said that the attack was “the worst fear of anybody who has lived in Las Vegas.”
Jamelle Bouie, the chief political correspondent for Slate.com, questioned why authorities hesitated to call the mass shooting an act of terrorism. “That Las Vegas authorities have ruled out terrorism at this early stage is another example of how the idea has all but been racialized,” Bouie tweeted.
Writer and social media activist Shaun King suggested that the shooter’s “whiteness” prevented authorities from calling him a terrorist, even though he “conducted the deadliest mass shooting in American history.”
As some took to social media calling for the mass shooting to be labeled an act of terrorism, others used the tragedy to call for stricter gun control. Still, most people used social media to share sympathy and prayers for the concertgoers and their families.
“Don’t even know what to say,” R&B singer Trey Songz tweeted. “To be in Vegas while this is happening, brings a pain to my heart. My team and I are safe, Thank God! Prayers up.”
NBA superstar Isaiah Thomas tweeted, “Prayers up for the victims & families of the Las Vegas Shooting! #PrayForVegas”
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association offered prayers and sympathy for those who suffered in the attack, while calling for a deeper conversation about the role that guns play in American society.
“NNPA affirms heartfelt condolences to families impacted by senseless murders in Las Vegas,” said Chavis on Twitter. “End gun violence!”