On October 1, 2017, a mass shooting occurred at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada. During the closing performance by singer Jason Aldean at a packed outdoor concert, a gunman located on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bayhotel and casino across Las Vegas Boulevard opened fire into the festival crowd.
The shooter was identified as 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock, who lived in Mesquite, Nevada. He was found dead in his hotel room with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. With at least 60 fatalities and 527 injuries, the shooting is the deadliest in United States history.
Route 91 Harvest is a country music festival that is held in Paradise, Nevada. It has been held every year since 2014 at Las Vegas Village, on a 15-acre (6.1-hectare) lot on Las Vegas Boulevard across from the Luxor Las Vegas hotel, resort and casino. On October 1, 2017, singer Jason Aldean gave the closing performance of the third and final day of the festival. The event was attended by approximately 22,000 people.
During Aldean’s performance, at approximately 10:08 p.m. local time on October 1, 2017, a man began firing a weapon from an upper floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel into the crowd attending the festival, 360 yards (330 meters) from the hotel, across South Las Vegas Boulevard. Many people in the crowd initially mistook the gunfire for fireworks. Based upon sound recordings of long bursts of gunfire during this incident, analysts suspected that a fully automatic rifle was used. Twenty firearms were found in Paddock’s hotel room; some were fully-automatic weapons. Among the weapons found were two tripod-mounted rifles with telescopic sights.
At 11:58 p.m. local time, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department stated that one suspect was “down”. The perpetrator was found dead in a 32nd floor Mandalay Bay hotel room, having shot himself just before the police entered.
At least 59 people were killed, including an off-duty police officer and two Canadians. At least 527 people were injured, some of whom were sent to hospitals that included the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada and Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center.
The incident is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, surpassing the 49 fatalities of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting.
The gunman was identified as Stephen Paddock (April 9, 1953 – October 1, 2017), a 64-year-old Sun Valley, California, native who was living in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada. Police found 16 rifles and one handgun inside the hotel room that Paddock had rented since September 28. According to police, the perpetrator acted alone and his motive is unknown. An FBI spokesperson said that the investigators had found “no connection with an international terrorist group.”
Paddock owned and managed some apartment buildings with his mother. He had previous residences in Reno, Nevada, and in California, Texas and Central Florida. He had been a licensed private pilot since at least 2003 and had previously owned two small aircraft. He had a hunting license from Alaska.
Police, relatives, and neighbors described him as a gambler. Police said Paddock had made recent casino transactions in the tens of thousands of dollars, but did not say whether they were losses or wins. Paddock’s father, Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, was a bank robber who was placed on the FBI’s most-wanted list in 1969 after he escaped from federal prison, and taken off the list in 1977.
Aftermath and reactions
A large portion of Las Vegas Boulevard was shut down as police SWAT teams combed the venue and neighboring casinos, hotels, and businesses. McCarran International Airport, lying immediately south-east of the festival site, was closed until the following day and multiple flights were rerouted or canceled in response to the shooting. Some of those escaping the shooting entered airport property as they fled.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval called the shooting “a tragic and heinous act of violence that has shaken the Nevada family”. President Donald Trump tweeted his “warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting”. In a public press conference the following morning, he declared the shooting an “act of pure evil”, a “senseless murder” and a “terrible, terrible attack”. He praised the “miraculous” quick response of first responders and announced he would visit them in Vegas on October 4, along with victims’ relatives and police. Jason Aldean, who was performing when the shooting started, posted his condolences on Instagram and noted that all of those working with him on the show had survived the attack.
At 2:45 p.m. on October 2, a state of emergency was issued by Clark County.
Shares of firearm manufacturers rose on the day following the mass shooting, which often occurs in the wake of mass shootings in the U.S.