It’s sometimes billed as “America’s playground,” but most of America doesn’t live within four highway hours (much less if you speed) from downtown Las Vegas.
Which partly explains why the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history – a Sunday night rampage near the Las Vegas Strip that left at least 59 dead and more than 500 wounded or injured – feels like a local crime.
Though hard numbers aren’t known, a huge chunk of the estimated 22,000 people on hand when Jason Aldean’s performance was halted by the crackle of an automatic weapon, came from Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Even the name of the three-day country music event – the Route 91 Harvest festival – refers to the former name of the stretch of freeway and highway that connects Long Beach to Las Vegas.
So it’s no surprise that an early list of the dead includes a special education teacher and a police records tech from Manhattan Beach; a teacher from Simi Valley, a contractor from Santa Clarita and a Disney California Adventure cast member who went to high school in Orange County and lived in Riverside. The wounded include off-duty sheriffs deputies from Los Angeles and Orange counties, off-duty firefighters from Los Angeles, an off-duty officer from the Ontario Police Department and the manager of a contractor’s office in Whittier.
The carnage in Las Vegas prompted a national address from President Donald Trump, who described it as “an act of pure evil.” But it also brought a city-to-city message of condolence from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti:
“Innocent people went out for an evening of fun,” Garcetti wrote. “And (they) walked into a nightmare that defies our ability to understand or express sorrow in words.”
The shooting spree was the start of a long night of fear and chaos.
Though about 10 minutes passed between the first and last showers of bullets, which came down from a two-room suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, the concert grounds and surrounding area was an active crime scene for several hours. Hundreds of people hid for much of night, believing the shootings were part of a broader attack; police were unable to assure them otherwise.
Initially, survivors were confused by the sound of the gunfire, which came faster than a human can pull a trigger. But confusion switched to grim recognition as some in the crowd fell, wounded or mortally shot.
“There was blood pouring everywhere,”…