On October 1st 2017, the deadliest mass shooting in the US occurred at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring 527. The shooter, identified as 64 year-old Stephen Paddock, broke two windows in his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and sent more than 22,000 country music fans scrambling for their lives. Between 10:05 and 10:15 pm, Paddock fired thousands of rounds at concert goers, turning the last day of the festival into a massacre. The headlining performer, country music singer Jason Aldean was giving the closing performance when the first shots were fired.
Several videos of the attack show the terror as countless rounds of gunfire can be heard with intervals of just a few seconds in between. Many concert-goers and performers still in the area initially thought the sounds were fireworks. When the second round of gunfire is heard, Jason Aldean ran off the stage and fans realized it was automatic gunfire-but for many, it was already too late. As terrified fans got down, many noticed people nearby who had already been shot. Videos of the attack show fans running, and then dropping to the ground as another round of gunfire starts. As people ran for their lives, many were separated and left not knowing if their friend or loved ones made it out. The day after the attack, stories circulated of the many brave people helping people to safety, tending to those injured and loading wounded into their vehicles to get them to area hospitals. Slowly, the identities of those lost were confirmed either through family confirming on social media or reaching out to news outlets.
Six minutes prior to the shooting, Mandalay Bay hotel security guard Jesus Campos was checking an alert for an open door in another guest’s room near Paddock’s room. Paddock, who had placed security cameras outside his room, shot Campos through the door of his suite, which was outfitted with a camera to survey the hallway, as was a room service cart parked outside. Police said Paddock fired 200 rounds into the hallway, hitting Campos once in the leg. Campos radioed the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department that the gunman was in room 32135 and began evacuating people from the 32nd floor, including a maintenance worker who entered the hallway moments after he was shot.
The first 911 call was at 10:08 pm but police officers were initially confused as to where the shooting was coming from. Officers eventually spotted multiple flashes of gunfire on the northern side of Mandalay Bay and responded to the hotel. At 10:12 pm, two officers on the 31st floor reported the sounds of gunfire on the floor above them. Between 10:26 and 10:30pm, eight officers reached the floor but didn’t hear anymore gunfire. They systematically searched and cleared rooms, evacuating any remaining guests using a master key provided by Campos. At 10:55pm officers reported all guests had been evacuated and at 11:20pm, police breached Paddock’s room with explosives. Paddock was found dead, having shot himself in the head before the police entered.
Police found 22 rifles and one handgun inside Paddock’s hotel room that he had occupied since September 28. Police believe Paddock’s surveillance cameras and additional evidence found in the room suggest that Paddock intended to escape after the shooting. Police, relatives, and neighbors described him as a wealthy, high-stakes gambler who kept to himself -with no political or religious affiliations. They say he frequently gambled tens of thousands of dollars-earning him valuable comps from Vegas area casinos. Paddock had no criminal record or known history of mental illness. Police believed he acted alone but have not determined his motive.