Las Vegas, Nevada: A retiree armed with multiple assault rifles strafed an outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas from a high-rise hotel window on Sunday, slaughtering at least 59 people in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history before killing himself.
The barrage of gunfire from the 32nd-floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel into a crowd of 22,000 people came in extended bursts that lasted several minutes, as throngs of terrified music fans desperately cowered on the open ground, hemmed in by fellow concertgoers, while others at the edge tried to flee.
More than 525 people were injured – some by gunfire or shrapnel, some trampled – in the pandemonium adjacent to the Las Vegas Strip as police scrambled to locate the assailant.
Police identified the gunman as Stephen Paddock, 64, who lived in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada. Authorities said they believed he acted alone, though his motive was unknown.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the massacre, but US officials said there was no evidence of that.
At least a dozen people were in critical condition at University Medical Center in Las Vegas where the most seriously injured victims were taken, a spokeswoman said.
The preliminary death toll, which officials said could rise, surpassed last year’s record massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, by a gunman who pledged allegiance to ISIS.
The dead in Las Vegas included a nurse, a government employee and an off-duty police officer.
Shocked survivors, some with blood on their clothing, wandered streets after the shooting, where the flashing lights of the city’s gaudy casinos blended with those of emergency vehicles.
Police said Paddock had no criminal record. The gunman killed himself before police entered the hotel room from where he was firing, Clark county sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters.
“We have no idea what his belief system was,” Lombardo said. “I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath.”
Federal officials said there was no evidence to link Paddock to militant organizations.
“We have determined to this point no connection with an international terrorist group,” Aaron Rouse, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation field office in Las Vegas, told reporters.
CIA spokesman Jonathan Liu, said in a separate email: “We advise caution on jumping to conclusions before the facts are in.”