LAS VEGAS — At least 58 people were killed and 515 others injured after a gunman opened fire Sunday night at an outdoor country music festival near the Las Vegas Strip — the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
The first shots came at 10:08 p.m., about 20 minutes into a performance by country-music star Jason Aldean. More than 22,000 concert-goers sought cover as a barrage of what sounded like automatic weapons fire ripped through the crowd, fired from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel across the street.
Police said the suspect, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a resident of Mesquite, Nev., had smashed the windows with a hammer-like tool before opening fire. By the time a SWAT team burst into the room, Paddock had killed himself — leaving at least 10 rifles in his hotel room.
“Right now we believe it’s a solo act, a lone wolf attacker,” Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said. “We are pretty confident there is no longer a threat.” The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is a joint city-county force headed by the sheriff.
Lombardo said authorities had no evidence of a motive. “We don’t know what his belief system was at this time.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders grew emotional as she read a statement praising the people who aided victims in the middle of the gunfire. “What these people did for each other says far more about who we are as Americans than the cowardly acts of a killer ever could,” Sanders said, quoting from the Bible’s Gospel of John: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend.”
The militant group Islamic State issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, saying the gunman had converted to Islam months ago, though it provided no proof; almost immediately, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Las Vegas, Aaron Rouse, said federal authorities had found no such evidence.
“We have determined, to this point, no connection to an international terrorist group,” Rouse said.
“It was an act of pure evil,” President Donald Trump said in a televised statement in Washington. The president did not refer to the shootings as an act of terrorism, but said he would travel to Las Vegas on Wednesday — a day after he visits victims of another tragedy, this one the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico — to meet with first responders and families of the victims.
“We cannot fathom their pain, we…