VOA News

Police in Las Vegas, Nevada say a man opened fire on a country music concert late Sunday, killing at least 58 people and wounding more than 515 others, in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

President Donald Trump called it an “act of pure evil.”

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police identified the shooter as 64-year-old white male Stephen Paddock from Mesquite, Nevada. The gunman attacked the crowd of over 22,000 from his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino, located across the street from the outdoor venue where videos showed concertgoers ducking for cover, screaming and running as the repeated shots rang out.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said SWAT officers breached the shooter’s hotel room and found him dead. He said it is believed that Paddock killed himself. Police also found at least 10 rifles in his room.

Addressing the nation, President Trump thanked Las Vegas police for their sacrifices and quick responses during the “terrible, terrible attack” and said he would visit the city on Wednesday.

“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.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders was on the verge of tears as she described some of the heroism of those who sacrificed their lives to save others as the bullets rained down.

Motive unknown

A motive for the deadly attack is not known.

“We don’t know what his belief system was at this time,” the sheriff said, adding that Paddock was not believed to be connected to any militant group.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the gunman was one of its “soldiers” and converted to Islam months ago, but did not provide any evidence. U.S. intelligence officials say they are aware of and tracking the claim.

Search for woman linked to shooter 

Authorities had also searched for a woman described as Paddock’s roommate in order to get more information, but in a later statement said she was no longer a person of interest, and that Paddock was the “lone suspect”.

One off-duty police officer was among those killed, and another two on-duty officers were injured, Las Vegas Metropolitan police said in a statement.

As the situation at the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert unfolded, people sought safety in the many hotels that line the popular tourist district. The Las Vegas international airport is also in the area, and flights there were temporarily halted because of the shooting.

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.

Aldean was onstage at time of shooting

Country star Jason Aldean was on stage playing at the time of the shooting. Hours later he described it as “horrific.”

“I still don’t know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that me and my crew are safe. 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,” he said on Instagram.