On Sunday, Oct. 1, at least 59 people were killed and more than 500 injured in Las Vegas, Nevada, during the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. According to the Las Vegas Metro Police Department (LVMPD), shooter Stephen Paddock opened fire at 10:08 p.m. at a crowd of more than 22,000 gathered for the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Country music artist Jason Aldean was performing at the time of the attack.
Paddock was located in a room the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, and shooting continued for 9 to 11 minutes, according to CNN. Paddock was found dead in his hotel room after the event.
Alumnus Cole Mokry grew up in Nevada and said he woke up to an alarming phone call from his father regarding the news. His sister recently moved back to Las Vegas, and his father called to share that she was safe. Mokry said none of his family or friends were affected.
“When I first heard about the shooting it was pretty overwhelming,” Mokry said. “This particular shooting hit very close to home for me, physically and figuratively, because I was left to wonder if my friends and family were alive or dead. Those hours of not knowing were some of the longest I’ve experienced, but they forced me to think about the world we live in and how to respond in times of chaos and crisis.”
According to Fox News, the shooting was heavily planned. Paddock installed cameras inside and outside his hotel room and stashed 12 bump-fire stocks — legal devices that mimic automatic weapon gunfire — and 23 firearms.
In total, Paddock possessed 47 firearms in three different locations. CNN reported that Paddock accumulated guns for more than 20 years, purchasing them from Nevada, Utah, California and Texas. No purchase permits, registration of firearms or licensing of owners is required for rifles, shotguns or handguns in the states of Nevada, Texas or Utah, according to the National Rifle Association.
Senior Julia Bergeth grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada. After she learned her friends and family in the city were safe, Bergeth said she felt empathy for the city.
“I just really felt a lot of hurt — hurt for the city that holds such precious memories for me and my loved ones, but also just because it is Las Vegas,” Bergeth said. “I’m worried that it might almost get swept under the rug. It’s easy to see Vegas as a sinful city and nothing more than that, but of course there is so much more to the city, and I’m concerned that the bigger message of this might be lost. It’s easy to disconnect yourself from a place like Vegas living somewhere like Searcy, Arkansas, but this tragedy is so real to so many people who see Las Vegas as their home.”
Mokry said waking up to death tolls from violent attacks has become normal to him.
“An unfortunate side effect of growing up in the United States in the 21st century is mass shootings like this one seem to occur on a regular basis,” Mokry said. “Events like Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook have desensitized me and others in my generation to domestic terrorism, and I’m ashamed of that.”
As of press time, detectives are investigating to learn Paddock’s motive, according to the LVMPD. The police department is processing the crime scenes and combining evidence to reveal any pertinent information on the massacre.
“I think it would be easy for things like this to harden us and make us more closed off as a church and a community, but now more than ever that is incredibly the wrong response,” Bergeth said. “These kinds of tragedies are no longer anomalies, and we have to realize that events like this are not just isolated events. As a church, I think that means opening our doors and understanding why there are so many people in our communities that feel turned away by society and so fundamentally broken.”
The Gun Violence Archive defines mass shooting as a shooting where four or more individuals have been shot or killed in the same general time or location. As of Oct. 3, 273 mass shootings have occurred in 2017, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
Shwan Fisher, liaison for the Reserve Officers’ Trainng Corps at Harding, said mass shootings can remind people of the everyday gunfire in the U.S.
“Sadly, the reaction to mass shootings also shows how blind we are to shootings that happen to people we ignore, such as in Chicago, where there have been over 500 murders this year. In Memphis the murder count is over 150, in Philadelphia it’s over 200, in Little Rock it is over 50,” Fisher said. “We may not be able to stop an attack like the one in Las Vegas, where the shooter was not known to law enforcement and where effective legislation may be so draconian as to render our constitutional protections moot, but surely we can agree that focusing law enforcement resources into those communities most hit by crime on a day-to-day basis stands to save the most lives and could strengthen our most vulnerable populations.”
According to CNN, President Donald Trump stated that gun control laws will be discussed in time. In the meantime, Mokry said people can step forward by changing the way they treat one another.
“It’s easy to point fingers and blame others for the tragedy that occurred in Las Vegas, but when you don’t know if the people you love most are alive or dead, all you want to do is show more love, more compassion, more kindness,” Mokry said. “That’s an attitude I wish I had every day, and I think that’s what will help bring healing to us all as we take steps forward from this horrible display of hatred and violence.”
To help victims of the Las Vegas shooting, food donations can be sent to Catholic Charities or Three Square in Vegas, or financial support can be given to the “Las Vegas Victims’ Fund” on Gofundme.com.