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Mass Shooting

Mass Shooting on Las Vegas Strip Leaves More Than 50 Dead

Live updates from Trace staffers.

A shooter fired into a crowd of people last night at a country music festival outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino on the busy Las Vegas Strip, killing at least 58 people. An additional 527 people were transported to local hospitals, many with gunshot wounds.

The incident is the worst mass shooting in American history.

Live updates below:

NYT: Gunman had arsenal of 19 rifles, hundreds of rounds of ammunition

Father of suspected gunman was on FBI’s Most Wanted list

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the father of the suspected Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock, was a diagnosed psychopath and bank robber who landed on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Most Wanted list in the 1960s.

Benjamin Paddock was added to the FBI’s list in 1968 after escaping from a Texas prison. A wanted poster states that Paddock “reportedly has suicidal tendencies and should be considered armed and very dangerous.”

WSJ: At least one automatic weapon recovered from gunman’s hotel room

New details on the gunman’s arsenal, via the Wall Street Journal: 

Investigators found 18 to 20 firearms, some fully automatic, in a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, the law-enforcement official said. That is from where the suspect, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, allegedly fired upon thousands of concertgoers below. The weapons included AR-15-style and AK-47-style rifles as well as a large cache of ammunition, the official said.

Las Vegas Suspect Likely Used Automatic Rifle in Massacre

At press briefing, Sanders mum on questions of gun control

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders began Monday’s press briefing fighting back tears as she spoke about the victims of last night’s shooting.

Asked about the impact of the shooting on the question of gun control, Sanders responded: “This is an unspeakable tragedy. There’s a time and place for a political debate but now is the time to unite as a country.”

She also echoed a popular GOP talking point about Chicago’s gun violence crisis: “If you look to Chicago, where you had over 4,000 victims of gun-related crimes last year, they have some of the strictest gun laws in the country. That certainly hasn’t helped there. We need to look at things that will have real impact.”

“It’s premature to discuss policy when we don’t know the facts,” she said when asked why President Donald Trump was not as quick to label this incident an act of terrorism as he has been in the past. “This is still a fact-finding mission. We’ll leave it to law enforcement to make those determinations.”

One reporter mentioned Hillary Clinton’s tweet about silencers, and the National Rifle Association’s support for the bill that would ease regulations around them.

“It’s very easy for Mrs. Clinton to criticize. But the only person with blood on their hands is the shooter. It’s not the time to go after individuals or organizations.”

The briefing was cut short to allow for a moment of silence on the south lawn of the White House.

The NRA spent millions last year to fight background checks in Nevada

The National Rifle Association spent more money fighting background checks in Nevada last year than it did on any Senate or House race.

The gun group poured more than $6.6 million opposing a universal background check ballot measure, making it the NRA’s second-largest campaign expenditure of 2016. The only contest that drew more funds from the gun-rights group was the presidential election, in which it invested over $30 million in support of Donald Trump.

The Nevada ballot measure passed. But toward the end of 2016, the state’s attorney general, Adam Laxalt, a Republican, issued an opinion stating that the law was “unenforceable.” The law was supposed to go into effect in January, but so far this year the FBI has not conducted a single background check on a private gun sales in the state.

It’s not yet clear whether the Las Vegas gunman underwent a background check to acquire the firearms he used in the attack, or if he would have been prohibited from purchasing a gun.

Suspected gunman’s relatives express shock, disbelief: “It’s like an asteroid fell out of the sky”

“Last time I talked to him was when he texted me to ask how my mom was, after we didn’t have power for five days,” Eric Paddock, the brother of the suspected shooter Stephen Paddock, told CNN outside of his home Orlando, Florida. The family had lost power during Hurricane Irma.

Stephen Paddock had been living in Mesquite, a retirement community of 18,000 people, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

“He had a safe, with a couple of handguns,” Eric Paddock said. “He had no machine guns when I moved him from Melbourne to Mesquite.”

Nicole Paddock, the gunman’s niece, took to Facebook to express her condolences to the victims. She wrote that it has been more than a year since she spoke with her uncle.

“I cannot speak to what possibly motivates someone to do something like this nor what his specific motivations may have been,” she wrote. “He never came across as religious or political.”

The Mandalay Bay Resort is looking for crisis counselors for employees and guests

Victims include a nurse, a college student, and an off-duty police officer

At least 59 people were killed in the Las Vegas attack, according to the latest reports. Details are just now emerging about some of the victims. Quinton Robbins, 20, is among the dead. A student at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Robbins lived in Henderson, a few miles outside of Las Vegas. He coached his younger brother’s football team and was a “pay-it-forward kinda guy,” a longtime friend told Newsweek. His aunt memorialized his “sweet soul” and “contagious laugh” on Facebook.

Also killed was Sonny Melton, a registered nurse living in Big Sandy, Tennessee. Melton, 37, reportedly died while trying to shield his wife Heather from gunfire. The couple was married about a year ago; on his Facebook page, Melton referred to Heather as “the love of his life.”

An off-duty Las Vegas police officer was also killed.

FBI: Gunman had no connection with ISIS

Though ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting, Aaron Rouse, the FBI special agent in charge of the Las Vegas investigation, said at a press conference suspected gunman Stephen Paddock had no connection with an international terrorist group.

Paddock’s former roommate, Marilou Danley, is being looked at as a “person of interest.”

Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Paddock had no help bringing 10 rifles into the Mandalay Bay Hotel, where he checked in on Thursday, September 28. Lombardo said he shattered the window with “a device similar to a hammer.”

At a press conference, officials increase the death toll to 59

Sheriff Lombardo said that number could rise to 59, to include a victim who was thought to be near death.

He added that at least 527 people were injured, though there’s no indication how many of them were shot.

The incident is now far and away the worst mass shooting in modern American history.

Trump calls Las Vegas shooting an “act of pure evil”

Speaking at the White House, President Trump offered words of comfort to families and victims of the Las Vegas shooting, and praised first responders. For people searching for “meaning in the chaos,” he said, “answers do not come easy.”

Vox has the full text of the president’s remarks here.

Trump said he would travel to Las Vegas on Wednesday to meet with families of victims and law enforcement officials.

The staggering number of casualties and rapid rate of fire is raising questions about the type of gun used  

Videos of the attack recorded by witnesses captured long bursts of gunfire, leading to speculation that the shooter used an automatic weapon, as the Washington Post notes. By the time the bullets stopped, an estimated 400 people had been rushed to local hospitals. That’s more than four times the casualty count of the Pulse nightclub mass shooting, which until last night stood as the worst America has ever experienced.

Since 1986, American gun makers have been prohibited from manufacturing civilian guns capable of firing automatically. The relatively few machine guns in circulation are held mostly by collectors, who pay up to tens of thousands of dollars for them. ATF records show that 11,752 machine guns are listed as held by gun owners in Nevada.

There are other ways to get a rifle to approach automatic fire, however, and it’s those means that investigators are likely probing now.  As The Trace has reported, gun enthusiasts often use “bump fire” — a method using the recoil of a semiautomatic firearm to fire several shots in succession — to legally and cheaply hack their way faster rate of fire.

Reporter Alex Yablon focused his story on the Bump Fire Stock, a $99 accessory that achieves the desired effect.

The Bump Fire stock doesn’t convert semiautomatic rifles to true automatic fire. Rather, it provides an effective means of engaging a gun’s trigger extremely quickly. Instead of pulling back the trigger to fire, the user places his or her finger slightly in front of the trigger and pushes the whole gun forward with steady pressure. The trigger hits the finger and the round goes off. Recoil pushes the gun back, but the shooter’s forward pressure immediately returns the trigger back to the finger, and so the gun fires off another round faster than the blink of an eye.

Here’s one in action:

Because these accessories do not alter the inner workings of a firearm, they are not subject to regulation by the ATF. A few states, including California and Connecticut, have restrictions on such devices, but Nevada does not.

In 2013, in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California proposed a law that would have banned bump-fire devices or any accessories designed to increase a gun’s rate of fire. The legislation never went to vote.

Patients flood into Las Vegas’s only Level I trauma center

The shooter who targeted a crowd of concertgoers from his Las Vegas hotel room rained fire down for 15 to 20 minutes, Randy Sutton, a former Las Vegas police officer, CBS News. That made it difficult for paramedics to approach victims, he said. “Many of these injured were taken by civilians,” Sutton said. “There simply weren’t enough ambulances to get there in time.”

Among the reportedly 400 people who were injured, more than 100 victims were transported about seven miles north to University Medical Center. At least 30 went directly to Nevada’s only Level I trauma center. (A Level I trauma center is designed to treat the most severe injuries, including stabbings and bullet wounds. It is staffed round the clock by general surgeons and has many specialists on staff).

Some of the victims sustained injuries from being pushed and trampled, but most of the injuries were caused by bullets, according to a hospital spokeswoman. “We’ve been very busy all night long,” the spokeswoman told NBC’s “Today” program,  adding that UMC’s trauma unit has three operating rooms, along with an “adequately stocked” blood bank and MRI and CT equipment.

The hospital served 12,500 patients last year, according to its website. The trauma center treated 2,082 patients in 2015, the Las Vegas Sun reported last year. UMC has seen a declining volume of trauma patients since two other hospitals, Sunrise Hospital and St. Rose-Siena, opened lower-level trauma centers more than a decade ago. Local officials have questioned whether Las Vegas is adequately equipped in terms of trauma care, arguing that “adding trauma centers would increase the community’s resilience in the event of a disaster.”

The suspected shooter is a local man, who acted alone

Multiple news outlets have identified the assailant as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, a small city about an hour northeast of Las Vegas. Paddock’s home is located in an upscale retirement community, 

NBC News reports that Paddock was a licensed pilot, and had an Alaska hunting license.

“Right now, we believe it’s a sole actor, a lone-wolf-type actor,” Sheriff Joe Lombardo of the Clark County Sheriff’s Department said in a press conference.

Eric Paddock, the suspect’s brother, told NBC that Stephen Paddock was “just a guy,” and that he was shocked to hear of the shooting.

“Mars just fell into the earth,” he said. “We’re completely dumbfounded.”

Gunfire rained down on a crowd of thousands from above

Lombardo said the gunman fired from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s 32nd floor.

The suspect died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound when a SWAT team burst into his room, authorities said.

The gunman was armed with more than 10 rifles

According to NBC News reporter Tom Winter, the Las Vegas Sheriff told the press that more than 10 rifles were recovered from the shooter’s room.

The exact type of rifles recovered by police was not immediately known.

Video from the concert depicts the gunman using a weapon capable of rapid-fire. It is unclear if any of the shooter’s weapons were fully automatic, or had been modified.

The killer’s motive remains unknown

In a press conference, Lombardo said police had yet to identify a motive for the shooting. “We don’t know what his belief system was, at this time,” he said

According to NBC News, Paddock was known to local law enforcement.

This is a developing story. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is providing updates via Twitter. Las Vegas Review-Journal reporters Mike Shoro and Rachel Crosby are providing good local coverage from the ground. Follow us at @TeamTrace on Twitter for links to the latest key developments and important context.