USA: Police Search for Motive Behind Deadly Las Vegas Rampage

Las Vegas Shooting

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Students from University of Nevada Las Vegas hold a vigil Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. A gunman on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel-casino rained heavy fire down on a crowd of over 22,000 at an outdoor country music festival Sunday, turning the expanse into a killing field from which there was little escape. At least 58 people died. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — Police in the western state of Nevada have recovered 23 firearms from the Las Vegas hotel room where a man carried out the worst mass shooting by a single gunman in recent U.S. history. Authorities found another 19 guns at one of his homes and searched another house.

Officials identified the shooter as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada. They said late Monday that 59 people were dead and 527 injured in the attack.

What is not clear yet is why the gunman, located on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, shot at the crowd of 22,000 people on the Las Vegas Strip as they listened to country star Jason Aldean play late Sunday.

“We’re hunting down and tracing down every single clue that we can get in his background,” Clark County Assistant Sheriff Todd Fasulo told reporters.

Fasulo reiterated that authorities believe Paddock acted alone and that there were no known threats to Las Vegas.

At an earlier briefing, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said, “I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath at this point.”

Family shocked

Paddock’s brother, Eric, is just as baffled as police by his motive. He said the family is “horrified and bewildered.”

He said his brother was a wealthy man with no known political or religious affiliations, no ties with white supremacists and no history of mental illness.

“Where the hell did he get automatic weapons? He’s a guy who lived in a house in Mesquite and drove down and gambled in Las Vegas,” Eric Paddock said.

Eric Paddock also said their father was a bank robber who was at one time on the FBI’s most wanted list. The FBI called him psychopathic and dangerous. But that the brothers had no contact with their father.

Islamic State claimed responsibility, saying the gunman was one of its “soldiers” and converted to Islam months ago. The FBI says there is no evidence Paddock was tied to any international terror group.

Community rushes to help

Monday in Las Vegas brought casinos opening their doors to the families of the victims, people rushing to donate blood and a collection of vigils to help cope with the shocking attack.

“We had an extreme shortage of blood. We put out a call for blood to be donated, as a result of that there is now an eight-hour waiting time to donate blood. You can’t get an appointment to donate blood until next week. The community has responded in such a tremendous manner,” Clark County Commission Chairman Stephen Sisolak said at one vigil.

Sisolak also started an online fundraising effort for the victims that by Tuesday had brought in $2.7 million from 38,000 donors.

Kenneth Zamora left the area where the concert was held shortly before the shooting and described to VOA the feeling of wondering about the fate of friends who stayed there.

“It’s scary to know that you lose contact with people and you don’t know what happened, whether they were injured or even worse, killed,” he said. “Luckily we were able to get in contact with them because the hotels opened up their doors and let people hide within the casino rooms.”

Las Vegas taxi driver Tamirat Shiferaw dropped off a passenger at the hotel just across the street from the concert venue and told VOA he was “very shocked” to hear what happened.

“I dropped a passenger at the Mandalay Bay like 20 minutes before the shooting happened and I was thinking about getting in line at Mandalay Bay but changed my mind and went to the airport. I did hear, like an automatic gunshot from a distance, but I never thought it would be a gun shooting,” Shiferaw said.

National response

President Donald Trump led a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House, facing the Washington Monument, to remember the victims.

He ordered flags across the country to fly at half-staff and will go to Las Vegas on Wednesday to meet with first responders and console the victims and their families. The president has called the shooting an “act of pure evil.”

Addressing the nation, Trump thanked Las Vegas police for their sacrifices and quick responses during the “terrible, terrible attack.”

“To the families of the victims we are praying for you and we are here for you and we ask God to help see you through this very dark period…in moments of tragedy and horror America comes together as one and it always has,” Trump said.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has said that there is “no information to indicate a specific credible threat involving other public venues in the country,” but that additional security may be seen at events and public places.