At Least 59 Dead, More Than 500 Hurt In Las Vegas Concert Attack

LAS VEGAS (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Nevada sheriff says the death toll has climbed to at least 59 in the attack on a Las Vegas concert Sunday, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Police said at least 527 others were taken to area hospitals following the attack, which happened as more 22,000 concert goers were attending the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the Strip.

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Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said authorities identified the suspected gunman as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock.

Asked about the motive for the attack, Lombardo said: “I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath at this point.” The sheriff said a check of federal and state databases showed Paddock was not on law enforcement authorities’ radar before the bloodbath.

Police said Paddock was from Mesquite, Nevada, about 80 miles north of Vegas, and lived in a retirement community.

As CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, police executed a search warrant at the Mandalay Bay hotel room from which Paddock fired the fatal shots and found several weapons.

Lombardo said police have also completed a search warrant in Mesquite but said they were looking at an additional property in northern Nevada.

At Paddock’s home, police retrieved numerous firearms, some explosives, several thousand rounds of ammunition, and electronic devices in Paddock’s home, Lombardo said.

Late Monday night, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Assistant Sheriff Todd Fasulo said 23 weapons were found in Paddock’s Mesquite home, and 19 had been found in Paddock’s Mandalay Bay room.

But no manifesto of any kind has been found.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the shooting, saying the suspect was “a soldier” who had converted to Islam months ago, without providing any evidence to support the claim.

Aaron Rouse, the FBI agent in charge in Las Vegas, disputed that claim, saying at a news conference Monday that “we have determined no connection to an international terrorist group.”

The shots rang out as country star Jason Aldean was on the stage at the music festival around 10 p.m. local time Sunday.

Aldean was in the middle of a song when the shots came rapidly: pop-pop-pop-pop. Video then showed Aldean stopping and the crowd getting quiet as if it were unsure of what had just happened.

As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, the hail of bullets seemed never-ending to concertgoers.

“I thought: ‘This has to stop at any minute. This is a bad situation, but at least it’s going to be over soon,’” said witness Shaun Hoff. “And it just wouldn’t end.”

There was confusion as many got on the ground ducking. Afterward, the gunman paused and then fired another volley, the muzzle flashes visible from the casino, as more victims fell to the ground while others fled in panic. Some hid behind concession stands, while others crawled under parked cars.

People in the frantic crowd of 22,000 took off in every direction to get out of the line of fire. Some of the injured helped those who were wounded even worse.

“This girl had been standing right beside me and she had fallen. First she stood there and she grabbed her stomach, she looked at her hands, her hands were all bloody,” said witness Gayle Davis. “She looked at her hands, her hands were all bloody and she just screamed and fell down.”

“About five feet next to me, I saw a man who had a gunshot wound right under his neck — right here,” said witness Taylor Benge. “That’s when I knew something wasn’t right. That’s when I knew it was fight or flight and get out of there.”

“Everyone thought it was fireworks at first and people just started dropping around us,” another woman said. “And everybody tried to stay down. Every time a group would get up to start running away, they would just start shooting again.”

“They turned the lights on and about five feet from me you could see a guy with a bullet wound right in his neck — motionless,” another man said. “And from there on in, it was just, you know, people started dropping like flies.”

“He fired another 15 rounds and then quiet and then what we were doing was every time he stopped and was reloading, we were getting up and making our way towards the fence and then he started shooting again,” said another witness.

“You could hear the bullets getting closer and then it would get quiet and they’d reload,” said another. “And they’d start again and the girl standing right behind me, about two feet, she got shot in the stomach.”

“This surreal moment was seeing some man fireman carry a girl in a white romper, and it was stained red and he was stained red, running with that girl,” said witness Reighlynn Parsley.

Victims were moved in wheelbarrows, office chairs, and even hotel luggage carts.

A stranger put pressure on Tom McIntosh’s bleeding leg and rushed him to the emergency room.

“Surrounded by thousands of people you don’t know, who’s shooting at you, it’s stressful,” McIntosh said.

Even hours later, some were still too numb to process what they had survived.

“I didn’t shed a tear, in a strange sort of way, until we just walked out here, and I guess it’s just because you go on autopilot,” said Kami Ready. “But there were people just 10, 15 feet from us that didn’t, didn’t leave.”

Lombardo said officers confronted Paddock on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino across the street from the concert.

SWAT teams using explosives stormed the gunman’s hotel room and found he had killed himself, authorities said.

Paddock had checked into the hotel on Thursday, and authorities say he used two windows to shoot down into the crowd.

Investigators said Paddock used two different rooms to shoot down into the crowd from the 32nd floor, breaking the sealed windows with what police said appeared to be a hammer.

Lombardo said authorities believe this was a “lone wolf” attack and the Homeland Security Department said there was no “specific credible threat” involving other public venues in the U.S.

Lombardo said among the dead is an off-duty Las Vegas police officer. Two other off-duty officers were also hurt.

Police said they had been looking for a person of interest connected to the suspect, identified by police as 62-year-old Marilou Danley. Police said Danley was overseas in Tokyo at the time of the shooting and has spoken to authorities.

The Clark County, Nevada Sheriff’s office said they do not believe Danley was involved in the shooting.

Police believe Paddock acted alone.

“I want to emphasize that we believe Paddock is solely responsible for this heinous act,” Fasulo said.

He said the department is aware of rumors that there was more than one assistant, but there is no evidence to support such claims.

Some information was also coming out about the victims late Monday afternoon.

The dead included Charleston Hartfield, a Las Vegas police officer who coached youth football, and Susan Smith, a wife, mother, and office manager at a California elementary school, CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported.

Some of the dead live on as heroes. Sonny Melton, 29, a registered nurse, likely saved his wife, Heather, by shielding her from the gunshots as the couple from a small town in Tennessee ran for cover.

Friends back home were in agony.

“Our whole town is shook, turned upside down and flipped around,” said longtime friend Autumn Ratliff. “Going to be rough for us for a couple weeks, months, years.”

Police said identifying everyone will be a long process.

Speaking from the White House Monday, President Donald Trump called the shooting “an act of pure evil.”

“We are joined together today in sadness, shock and grief,” he said.

Earlier Monday morning, the president tweeted: “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!”

Aldean posted on Instagram.

“Tonight has been beyond horrific. I still don’t know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that me and my crew are safe,” he wrote. “My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night.”

Meanwhile, hours after the shooting, the focus for doctors became trying to save who they could.

“Nonstop surgery after surgery till about 4:30, 5 o’clock this morning,” said trauma surgeon Dr. Jay Coates of the UNLV School of Medicine.

“I know there’s a family that will be shattered,” said Dr. Paul Chestovich, a surgeon at University Medical Center. “Just the knowledge of the amount of people that have been hurt by this incident, it’s hard to deal with.”

Las Vegas police say anyone looking to locate missing loved ones should call 1-866-535-5654.

According to records, Paddock was a licensed hunter and small plane pilot. Court documents show he settled a civil lawsuit against the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino.

His brother Eric Paddock, who lives in Florida, expressed total shock.

“We’re shocked, horrified, completely dumbfounded,” he said.

“No religious affiliation, no political affiliation — he just hung out,” said Eric Paddock. When asked if his brother had any history of mental illness, Eric Paddock said, “Not a bit.”

Eric Paddock said his brother was a multimillionaire who made much of his money investing in real estate. He was also an accountant and professional gambler who had won large jackpots, and a licensed hunter and pilot.

Stephen Paddock’s father, Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, was once on the FBI’s Most Wanted list for a bank robbery in the 1960s.

Stephen Paddock had no previous criminal record, except for a parking ticket in 2009.

Sheriff Lombardo added, “I don’t know how it could have been prevented if we had no prior knowledge of this individual.”

Before Sunday, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history took place in June 2016, when a gunman opened fire at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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