Sunday night marks the single largest mass shooting incident in the United States, leaving 59 dead and well over 500 people injured or in critical condition. Fear and uncertainty have overwhelmed Las Vegas and the nation, leaving us begging for answers and wondering how something so evil could have occurred just a state away.
As information unfolds, the healing and mourning of the victims of the Route 91 Harvest festival continues.
During the final performance, a gunman with weapons stockpiled in his room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino starts shooting into the crowd below. Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nev., checks into room 135 on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, bringing “in excess of 10 suitcases” to the two-room suite. Police working at the Route 91 Harvest Festival respond and converge on the shooter’s position. In the ten minutes before the gunman shoots himself, but not after he terrorizes all 22,000 in attendance.
“I’m completely shaken and have few words to describe how terrifying Sunday night was for me,” southern Orange County resident Corie Racobs said in a text message.
Racobs and her father were among the thousands of concert-goers in attendance at the Route 91 Harvest festival when gunman and Las Vegas resident Stephen Paddock unleashed a barrage on the large crowd from he 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel Resort and Casino. Unfortunately, Paddock took the innocent lives of 59 people while also injuring about 500 more people.
“I watched my life flash before my eyes,” Racobs said. “We were right in the middle of the crowd when we heard the first gunshots go off and I watched multiple people drop to the floor in front of me.”
Her father and her boyfriend shielded her and a few other friends as the gunfire continued. They remained where they were until they realized the gunfire wasn’t going to cease. At that point they decided to flee together as quickly as possible to the nearest covering. None of them were injured and have made it safe back to Orange County.
“I’m just glad I’m safe and will continue to pray for all the other people affected by this horrendous tragedy,” Racobs said. “It’s still a little unreal to believe something like this happened.”
Authorities said a sweep of law enforcement databases showed Paddock had no known run-ins with police. Despite the Islamic State’s repeated claims otherwise — investigators also could not find any connections to international terrorist groups here or overseas. He was the son of a notorious bank robber who was on the America’s most wanted list early in the 60s and his own crime demonstrated some amount of sophisticated planning. Despite claims by those acquainted with Paddock, the mass killer’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, said there was no indication that Paddock would become violent. Paddock’s brother, Eric, was also surprised by his brother’s actions when interviewed.
The surge of patients at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, within walking distance of the concert, was almost unthinkable. In the first hours, 90 patients arrived at the Level Two trauma center, and by noon on Monday, the total was 180.
They included patients with single and multiple gunshot wounds to the head, face, chest, body, arms and, in one case, a finger. By Monday afternoon, sixteen patients had died, some on arrival and others after being treated. Patients were sorted in the lobby of the emergency room on a scale of one to five, with one being the most critical, a system used daily. On Monday afternoon, operating teams at Sunrise were still at work. More than 50 patients had undergone surgery. The less severely injured included those who fell or were pushed as they ran. By Monday afternoon, 16 patients had died, some on arrival and others after being treated.