A country music festival along the Las Vegas strip was rocked with rapid gunfire Sunday night. The horrific event is expected to be the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, with even more casualties than the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, one year ago.
Officials say that the suspected gunman began raining down rapid fire from the 32nd floor of a hotel (possibly the Mandalay Bay) for several minutes before being shot dead by police.
Authorities identified the suspect as Las Vegas resident Stephen Paddock, 64, now deceased, as the shooter. At this time, there has been no information about a possible motive for the attack.
Thousands of panic-stricken people attempted to flee the area. Reports from witnesses say it sounded at first like fireworks, but the crowd quickly realized it was gunfire. The crowd then began trampling each other in attempts to escape.
Reports also convey that businesses along the famous and crowded Las Vegas strip closed and locked their doors, in hopes of keeping out gunmen. According to witnesses, hotels were locked, some doors had handcuffs to keep them closed.
Authorities believe they have identified and located Paddock’s roommate, Marilou Danley. They gave no details of whether or not she was suspected in the attack and described her as an “associate.” She is currently in custody.
Those among the dead include one off-duty police officer. Two on-duty police officers were injured, including one who was in stable condition after surgery. Police warned that the death toll from the event may rise.
The incident began just after 10 p.m. Sunday night in the Las Vegas Village during the Route 91 Harvest festival, a sold-out event attended by thousands and featuring big-name artists such as Eric Church, Jason Aldean, and Sam Hunt. The concert was located across from the Luxor and Mandalay Bay Hotels.
Although no links have been announced, the terrifying attack is likened to the mass shooting at a Paris rock concert in November 2015 that killed 89 people. That attack was part of a group of coordinated attacks carried out by Islamist militants that left 130 dead.