At least 58 people have been killed and over 500 injured following a mass shooting during a country music festival in Las Vegas, making it the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Police are expecting the death toll to rise as emergency responders assess the extent of the injuries sustained while Jason Aldean was performing.
Law enforcement officials in Las Vegas police have identified the gunman, who was apprehended on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel that towers over the area where the Route 91 Harvest music festival was in full swing, as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas police have since found a woman, now known as Marilou Danley, whom they had been hunting for since the gunman – allegedly Danley’s roommate – killed at least 58 people.
Amateur footage of the automatic gunfire has been posted online, which shows country singer Jason Aldean in mid-performance when a barrage of bullets starts raining down on the massive crowd. Festival-goers quickly identified the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino as the source of the shots.
As the music stops, people can be heard screaming, “get down” and “stay down.” Uninjured survivors of the mass shooting have told reporters at the scene that they did not know where to run or hide, while some chose to stay where they were and lay down on the ground.
Soon after the Mandalay Bay shooter opened fire, Las Vegas S.W.A.T. teams were deployed to the scene where they rapidly entered the hotel and began ascending towards the higher floors. Officers eventually located the shooter on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, at which point the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department reported that “one suspect is down.”
Shortly after the shooter was neutralized, police confirmed that, at this stage, they did not think there was another suspect.
According to retired F.B.I special agent James Gagliano, when a crowd as large as 30,000 people are gathered in a small area, a shooter just has “to point at the center… and squeeze the trigger.” At which point, Gagliano says, “no one knows where the shots are coming from. People aren’t trained to look up.”
The Mandalay Bay hotel has tweeted a message of sympathy and condolences in the wake of the massacre.
As reported by the New York Times, two concertgoers, Robyn and Matt Webb, described hearing round after round of gunfire.
“It just kept coming. It was relentless.”
They said they saw about 20 people bleeding in the street. “That’s when we knew for sure it was real,” Mr. Webb said.
The video below shows the moment singer Jason Aldean leaves the stage as bullets begin to rain down on his audience from the Mandalay Bay hotel above.
According to CNN live reports, Las Vegas police have found a “companion” of the Mandalay Bay shooter. Marilou Danley has been identified as a person of interest in the ongoing police investigation into the possible motives that inspired the gunman.
Las Vegas Metro Police Sheriff Joseph Lombardo confirmed that his officers were “interested in talking to” Ms. Danley, who has not been named as a suspect at this stage.
The Australian reported that Danley was “the girlfriend of the dead shooter Stephen Paddock.” Ms. Danley is believed to have been residing in a Las Vegas home with Mr. Paddock in the months before the Mandalay Bay hotel shooting.
According to reports, Ms. Danley allegedly holds an Australian passport and is possibly of Indonesian descent. Danley has been described as an Asian female, 4 feet, 11 inches tall, and weighing 111 pounds.
Meanwhile, social media giant Facebook has activated its safety check feature for what they have called: “The violent incident in Las Vegas, Nevada.” Facebook is providing continuous updates on the situation and is also collecting and coordinating offers from locals close to the Mandalay Bay hotel who are willing to help.
“I’m home about 10 miles from the strip,” wrote Rose Jaeger. “It would be my pleasure to drive down there and give rides, food, shelter, ANYTHING needed… Vegas is praying for the victims tonight.”
Another Facebook user, Zach Sisco, wrote, “I can offer rides, food, and water for up to 4 people. I live in fairly close proximity to the Strip and Thomas & Mack.”
[Featured Image by David Becker/Getty Images]