Deadliest Mass Shooting In Modern U.S. History Happened At Las Vegas Concert

Oct 2, 2017
Originally published on October 2, 2017 1:39 pm
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The shooter's name in Las Vegas was Stephen Paddock, according to police. He was 64 years old. He checked into the Mandalay Bay Resort. He went up to an upper floor. He had several rifles, according to police, and he stuck one or more of them out the window and opened fire on a concert below. Upwards of 50 people killed. One person in the crowd at that concert was Mia Uribe (ph).

MIA URIBE: I was in shock because I still thought that it was fireworks. And when I heard someone yell gun - and everyone was running towards us. Everyone was trying to get down. There were people jumping over us. It sounded like, pop, over and over and over again. And it didn't stop. There was just a continuous flashing light.

INSKEEP: Miguel Martinez-Valle, a reporter at FOX5 Las Vegas, was eating dinner nearby when he heard the news. He spoke with concertgoers who had run away.

MIGUEL MARTINEZ-VALLE: So the way that the festival's set up - it's kind of this lot. And then it's fenced in. They said that the fences came down. People actually trampled the fences trying to get out, to run away from the area. And people didn't know which direction to go.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK I want to bring in another voice here. It's Casey Morell. He works at member station KNPR in Las Vegas. Casey, we've been talking to you through the morning. And we have gone from looking like a few people were dead to 20 or more to now the police saying 50 or more and the deadliest shooting in modern United States history.

CASEY MORELL, BYLINE: Yeah, David. It's hard to believe on a number of levels. According to what Sheriff Joe Lombardo said about an hour ago and what Steve said earlier as well - that Stephen Paddock checked into the Mandalay Bay. He had multiple weapons with him as he opened fire on the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival, which was in a field maybe 200 feet across the street from where the Mandalay Bay Hotel Casino is on the eastern end of the Las Vegas strip.

GREENE: OK. And what do we know about this suspect right now and why he might have done this?

MORELL: Motives are still a bit unclear. But what we do know is that Paddock was a 64-year-old white male. He lived in a town called Mesquite, which is about 90 minutes to the northeast of Las Vegas. It's still within Clark County, which is probably why initial reports said that he was a local resident, which is technically true. But in terms of motive, it's hard to say. But police have said that they think they've located the person of interest in this case, Marilou Danley, who was traveling with Paddock, according to police. So maybe if they do, in fact, have her and can question her, we might learn more about the motivation behind this attack.

GREENE: And just to be clear, I mean, they were going after her, obviously, as you said, trying to find more information about him. But the situation is no longer dangerous. I mean, I know for a while, we were speaking, and they had shut down a huge part of the Las Vegas Strip. They were telling people to shelter in place. What are the authorities saying at this point?

MORELL: They've said that the active threat is gone, that Paddock was the lone gunman and that that threat has been has been neutralized. However, the area - part of the area around Mandalay Bay in that eastern end of the strip is still under lockdown. Some of the areas, you know, more centrally located or on the western end have started to open up. But police are still advising people, you know, if you're traveling through the area, avoid the strip. You know, you can't get off the freeways that border the strip. Don't try to go anywhere near it because you're not going to be able to get in.

GREENE: Has this always been on your mind? I mean, Las Vegas is such a tourist hub that draws so many people. This is kind of one of those scenarios that officials often warn about.

MORELL: Yeah. And it has been something that - you know, in our coverage, we've talked to officials who have said they have feared the worst at times. But they've also thought that something like this probably would not happen - that if something were to happen that was a bit of a challenge or a problem, it might've been something to do with the airport, which is right next to the strip. But nothing, I think, on this scale was something that anybody could've predicted.

INSKEEP: Casey, if you move around the Las Vegas Strip - if you do that over a period of years - the last several years - do you find more metal detectors, more efforts to deal with firearms? I'm curious, for example, if you could walk into the Mandalay Bay without passing through a metal detector.

MORELL: You could, unless you were going into one of the nightclubs at Mandalay Bay or if you were going into a concert venue. I mean, technically, under Nevada law, you are not allowed to possess a firearm on the casino floor. And there are signs that are posted. But in terms of walking through a metal detector or anything like that or being frisked by security, it - that's not there.

INSKEEP: And that's something - that if you're in Pakistan, if you're in a lot of countries, you will walk through a metal detector on the way into a hotel. But Americans would probably find that a little oppressive, a little bit troubling. And you're saying that in the case of the Mandalay Bay, you didn't have to do that to go to the hotel.

MORELL: And across the strip, it's like that, too. You would find security measures, like I said, going into the nightclubs or things like that. But actually just going into the casino or going into the hotel, going into a shop or a restaurant there on the strip - no. You would not see that.

INSKEEP: NPR's Scott Detrow is still with us. Scott?

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: We do have one brief update right now. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department just put out a statement saying that two police officers were injured during the shooting. One is in stable condition after surgery. The other sustained minor injuries. This is one of many updates that's going to change as the day goes on. I'm sure we've learned that police did confront the shooter at one point. But we don't have many details about what exactly happened in that hotel room.

INSKEEP: And just a simple description of the numbers underlines the power that a single person with what sounded like it may have been an automatic weapon - and to be clear, we don't know. We're going by the sound. Authorities have not described it as such.

GREENE: But a single person can carry out the largest mass shooting in American history.

INSKEEP: A single person, overhead, over a crowd, can carry out the largest mass shooting - incredible power.

GREENE: We've just heard from the president on Twitter. And that's his first reaction, right, Scott Detrow?

DETROW: That's right. He weighed in just after 7 o'clock - pretty basic statement along the lines of what we've been hearing from most members of Congress. His warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. But I imagine this will dominate the national conversation for the weeks to come.

GREENE: Casey Morell, where do you go from here? What questions are you going to be asking in the next hour or so?

MORELL: I think we're going to be looking to see, you know, what happens next in terms of the death toll and the number of victims - if that number is going to continue to rise. We're going to try to figure out what happened, you know, why Stephen Paddock was motivated to do this.

GREENE: Yeah.

MORELL: And then what's the lasting impact on the strip? Do we start to see more strict security measures like Steve talked about in place?

GREENE: That's an interesting question. Casey Morell from member station KNPR in Las Vegas, thanks for your reporting this morning. I'm sure we'll be turning back to you. We really appreciate it.

MORELL: Thanks.

GREENE: And NPR's Scott Detrow here in our studios in Washington. Thanks, Scott.

DETROW: Sure thing. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.