July 14, 2024
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Nearly 60 Dead, Over 500 Injured, in Worst Mass Shooting in US History

(JLNJ Staff and combined sources) An outdoor country music concert at a Las Vegas hotel turned into a bloodbath Sunday night as a lone gunman opened fire on the crowd, killing nearly 60 people and injuring over 500, some critically.

Shooter Stephen Paddock, 64, was a retired accountant who lived in Mesquite, Nevada, within an hour of Las Vegas. He had been staying at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, overlooking the concert venue, since last Thursday. According to reports, he fired from his 32nd floor hotel room window into the crowd attending the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, but committed suicide in the wake of the massacre, before he could be apprehended by police. Witnesses said the gunfire lasted close to 15 minutes.

As press time, Las Vegas police had not provided specific details of the weapon Paddock used, but said that they had had no prior knowledge of the gunman. Marilou Danley, reportedly Paddock’s girlfriend, is no longer considered a “person of interest” in the attack, according to police.

Despite early reports of Paddock’s ties to ISIS, the FBI confirmed that there was no connection between Paddock and any terror groups. “We’ve determined no connection with an international terrorist group,” an FBI spokesperson said at a press conference Monday.

The Las Vegas area was paralyzed in the wake of the mass shooting, with witnesses, bystanders and citizens expressing shock, horror and outrage at the breadth of the massacre.

One concert goer tweeted, “There was blood everywhere,” #MandalayBay shooting witness.

Many concert goers, however, expressed sentiment surrounding one theme: love. Numerous people spoke of helping, or being helped by, strangers. Various reports stated that two women who had been standing near the stage when the shooting began were saved by a complete stranger who took several bullets and shielded them with his body in an effort to save them.

President Donald Trump echoed that sentiment, saying, “In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one. We call upon the bonds that unite us, our faith, our family and our shared values. We call upon the bonds of citizenship, the ties of community and the comfort of our common humanity. Our unity cannot be shattered by evil, our bonds cannot be broken by violence, and though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today.”

President Trump called the massacre “an act of pure evil,” but assured America that “the FBI and Dept. of Homeland Security are working with local police.” He also thanked the first responders.

To the injured, Trump said, “We are praying for your full and speedy recovery. We ask God to help you through this very dark period.” He directed flags to be flown at half-mast, in memory of the many lives that were lost.

Carolyn Goodman, the Jewish mayor of Las Vegas, tweeted to her followers the following simple message: “Pray for Las Vegas.” She also expressed gratitude to the first responders.

Israelnationalnews.com reported that Rabbi Yitz Wyne, who heads Young Israel Aish Las Vegas, the largest Orthodox congregation in the area, said the attack hit his community particularly hard because of his congregation’s physical proximity to the scene of the slaughter.

“Our congregation is only 12 miles away from where it happened,” Wyne told Arutz Sheva. “Many people work there, and we are all familiar with the area.”

Rabbi Wyne views the tragic shooting as a message from God. “All of us need to find ways that we can repent and serve God better. Nothing happens for no reason: if a mass shooting happened near us, then we need to ask ourselves what God is telling us,” Rabbi Wyne declared.

Rabbi Wyne stated that he and his community don’t fear for their physical safety. “We’ve spent more than $75,000 on security over the last year alone. Our building is much safer than it has ever been, for the threats have grown larger since we first built it 15 years ago. Some of our members have gotten racial insults hurled at them, things like that, but nothing out of the ordinary. We feel safe here,” he concluded.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu offered his condolences to the American people, saying, “On this terrible day, the people of Israel stand shoulder to shoulder with the American people in mourning and sorrow,” Netanyahu tweeted. “Our hearts go out to the victims’ families and we wish a speedy recovery to the wounded. We grieve with you.”

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also expressed his condolences in a letter to President Trump. Rivlin wrote, “The people of Israel and I send you, the festival participants, the citizens of Las Vegas and all the citizens of the United States, our deep condolences in the wake of this shocking attack that claimed the lives of so many innocents and led to the injury of many others.” He continued, “We stand by you in mourning for the terrible loss of life in this senseless attack on people who have gathered together in joy to listen to music.” In addition, the President asked President Trump “to convey our sincere condolences to the bereaved families and to give our prayers for the speedy recovery of the wounded.”

According to reports, Paddock’s father, Benjamin Haskins Paddock, was arrested in 1960 for robbing an Arizona bank, escaping from prison in 1968 and remaining on the run for eight years. The elder Paddock had an extensive criminal history and was on the FBI’s most-wanted list from 1969 until his capture in Oregon in 1978. He was considered one of the FBI’s “10 most wanted.”

The FBI reported that Benjamin Paddock was “diagnosed as psychopathic” and possibly had “suicidal tendencies.”

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