The Las Vegas Massacre
On October 1st, bullets rained down over the Route 91 Harvest Festival, marking the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history with 58 or more killed and at least 515 injured. But in spite of this huge, albeit horrible, historical event, many aspects of the massacre remain unknown, especially in regards to the timeline of the event. But here’s what we do know:
The perpetrator, Stephen Paddock, was the 64 year old son of the fugitive Benjamin Paddock, who had been on the FBI’s top 10 most wanted list for 8 years. In the decades before the shooting, he was a successful real-estate investor, accountant, and gambler, who was never keen on social interaction. Those who were close to him have said that he “smelled of alcohol in the mornings” in the months before the shootings, and was on heavy anti-anxiety drugs. From October of 2016 to September of 2017, while Paddock was on theses drugs, he purchased 33 firearms, most of them rifles, and increased his time at local firing ranges. By September 25th, he was checked into the Mandalay Bay hotel, which is across from the concert venue.
The days, and even hours, leading up to the shooting were uneventful, but all that changed at 10:05 pm, when the first shot was fired. The shots began slowly at first, but eventually grew into sustained bursts of rapid firing across the venue. By 10:12, police were able to identify where the shots were coming from and began to enter the hotel, congregating on the 31st floor, one floor below Paddock’s (to seal off any escape routes). Soon after that, at 10:15, the firing ceased and two minutes later the police were able to storm the 32nd floor, where they found an injured security guard by the name of Jesus Campos. Two final shots were heard at 10:30, which was later confirmed to be the sound of Paddock taking his own life. Despite this, police did not enter the hotel room until about 50 minutes later, at 11:20, given that they were unable to confirm if Paddock was alone.
Once the room was breached, authorities found 23 rifles, many of them military assault weapons, strewn across the floor along with ammunition, glass (from the broken windows), and Paddock himself. They also discovered cameras that Paddock had set up, to monitor in and around his suite. When the police later searched his home, they reported to have found explosives, over 19 firearms, and thousands of rounds of bullets.
In the time after the massacre, ISIS stepped forwards, claiming that the attack was their doing, however the FBI reports that there is no apparent connection between Paddock and the radical group. As of now, it is unclear what Paddock’s motives were for the shooting, although many are pointing to some sort of mental disorder, given that not only was he was drinking while on huge amounts of anti-anxiety medications. Others have also pointed to his father’s criminal record as proof of a genetic tendency towards psychopathy.
Along with the confusion surrounding Paddock’s motives, there is also a lack of clarity regarding the timeline released by the police, which has now been changed 3 times. The primary changes made have focused largely on the shooting of the security man, Jesus Campos. In the first official report, Paddock reportedly shot Campos at the end of his attack, around 10:15. Campos was then praised as a hero, since it was assumed that, had he been shot at the end of the attack, he had helped to end it. However, this report turned out to be incorrect. The next version of the timeline that was released stated that Campos was shot at 9:59 pm, 6 minutes before the massacre began. But this too led to questions, mainly about why Paddock would have waited an entire 6 minutes before firing on the crowd. The current version of the timeline states that Campos was shot around the same time that the shooting began, which may take into account some of the singular shots heard at the beginning of the attack. However, all these changes to the timeline have lead to a fair amount of confusion regarding the attack, which is making many Americans, especially those who survived the attack, uneasy.
But in spite of these recent attacks, the city of Las Vegas and the nation as a whole have remained incredibly strong, something that is essential in times like these.