LAS VEGAS – More than 50 people were killed and at least 200 others injured after a gunman opened fire Sunday night at a country music festival opposite the Mandalay Bay hotel and resort on the Las Vegas Strip, authorities said.
Police released the updated death toll shortly after 3:30 a.m. after a horrific night of violence that turned a concert into a scene of carnage. While initial reports put the death toll at 20, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police tweeted later that at least 50 were dead.
Police said the suspect, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a resident of Mesquite, Nev., was killed after a SWAT team burst into the hotel room from which he was firing at the crowd.
“Right now we believe it’s a solo act, a lone wolf attacker,” Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sheriff Joe Lombardo said. “We are pretty confident there is no longer a threat.”
Authorities said the gunman appeared to have begun firing at 10:08 p.m. from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel toward the concert venue across the street.
Officers entered the room and engaged the suspect. “He is dead, currently,” Lombardo said, adding that authorities have no evidence of a motive. “We don’t know what his belief system was at this time.”
Police said they have succeeded in locating a woman, identified as Marilou Danley, who was believed to be traveling with Paddock and is listed as living at his address in Mesquite, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. “We are confident we have located the female person of interest,” the department said on Twitter.
Mesquite authorities there secured a search warrant for the suspect’s home and found several rifles in the suspect’s room, said Mesquite Police officer Quinn Averett, a spokesman for the department. About 10 Mesquite officers were at the home early Monday morning holding a perimeter, he said.
Two of the dead may include a pair of off-duty police officers who were attending the concert, Lombardo said.
“A tragic and heinous act of violence has shaken the Nevada family,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said on Twitter. “Our prayers are with the victims and all affected by this act of cowardice.”
Authorities established a command post and triage center, and shut down parts of the Strip in the hours after the shooting. Hotel guests blocked from returning to their hotels were shuttled to a center equipped with metal detectors.
Police initially investigated reports of a “suspicious device” down the street, outside the Luxor Hotel, but said later there appeared to be no explosive devices related to the incident, other than that used by the SWAT team breaching the room where the suspect was located.
Video posted on social media showed the open-air concert fully underway when bursts of automatic gunfire rang out in rapid succession. Dozens of concertgoers dropped to the ground, screaming, while others ran, some in pairs or in groups with their arms linked.
The shooting went on for about more than 30 seconds before the music stopped, and another burst was heard later.
“Get down, stay down,” one woman shouted. “Let’s go,” another voice said. Another wave of gunshots followed soon after.
Seth Bayles, of West Hollywood, said Aldean had been performing for about 20 minutes when he heard shots.
“I thought it was like bottle rockets going off,” Bayles said. “Then we saw people dropping. We saw someone get hit and then we started running.”
Bayles said he was probably 50 feet from the stage when he heard the shots. “We saw people down all over the place.”
Bayles said Aldean was quickly pulled off stage, and soon after, the band was brought off as well.
Two men near the casino said they heard a helicopter with a bullhorn yelling “Go! Go! Go!” as the incident unfolded. Others said they saw police and SWAT teams streaming into the Mandalay Bay casino.
Bernice Allard, who came to the concert with her husband Frank Allard, said there was screaming when the shooting began. “Single shot. Single shot, then a lot of shots,” Frank Allard said.
Allard, 56, said he had come to see Eric Church and Sam Hunt and Jason Aldean, who was into his fourth or fifth song when the shooting began. He said the crowd began to stampede, and he grabbed a nearby fence, stretched both arms wide and tried to shield his wife from the danger. Then they ran.
“We followed the crowd out,” Bernice Allard said.US