Trump calls on Americans to unite as US mourns victims of mass shooting

By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
October 2, 2017 13:59

With at least 58 dead, 515 wounded, it is officially the deadliest mass shooting in US history.




People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after gun fire was heard

People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after gun fire was heard. (photo credit: DAVID BECKER/GETTY IMAGES/AFP)

US President Donald Trump lamented the tragic loss of lives in his national address Monday following America's deadliest shooting that took place Monday night in Las Vegas and claimed the lives of 58 people, injuring an additional 515.

The US president extended his condolences to the families of the victims and those injured, alluding to a passage from Psalms 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The shooter has been identified by Las Vegas police as  64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a local resident. The investigation is still ongoing and people are advised not to go to the affected areas.

Paddock was not believed to be connected to any militant group, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters in a press conference.

"We have no idea what his belief system was," Lombardo said. "We've located numerous firearms within the room that he occupied."

Islamic State had issued a statement through its news agency Amaq claiming responsibility for the shooting, saying that the attacker had converted to Islam a few months ago.

But US officials discounted Islamic State's claim of responsibility and said there was reason to believe that Paddock had a history of psychological problems. 

Trump ordered that the American flag be lowered to half-staff and said he will visit first response teams and the families of the victims on Wednesday along with his wife, First Lady Melania Trump. Mandalay Bay Las Vegas Shooting October 1, 2017. (YouTube/yx0ify)

According to Las Vegas police, Paddock was found in his hotel room by forces after he had already shot himself. At least seven additional firearms were also uncovered in his hotel room.

The previous deadliest  shooting in US history was the Pulse nightclub shooting where 49 people were killed on June 12, 2016.

"We have numerous victims right now," a police officer confirmed during a media briefing. "Please keep their families and them in your thoughts."

The dead included one off-duty police officer, while at least one other officer was critically wounded, Lombardo said. Police warned the death toll may rise.


The Route 91 Harvest Festival, a large outdoor country music concert, was taking place with singer Jason Aldean on stage when the shooting began. The singer posted his condolences on Instagram and confirmed that he and his crew were safe.

"Tonight has been beyond horrific. I still don't know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that Me and my Crew are safe. My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night. #heartbroken #stopthehate," Aldean wrote on the social media site.

Thousands of panicked people fled the scene, in some cases trampling one another as law enforcement officers scrambled to locate and kill the gunman. Shocked concertgoers, some with blood on their clothes, wandered the streets after the attack

Police have released a photo of Paddock's companion, Marilou Danley. She was located and is in police custody for questioning. Lombardo gave no details of whether she was suspected of involvement in the attack but described her as an "associate."
Police have also located two cars that belonged to the suspect.

Trump had earlier responded to the mass shooting on Twitter, saying: "My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!"

Trump had planned a trip to Puerto Rico on Tuesday to survey the damage from Hurricane Maria.



Flights in and out of McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas have been temporarily halted, according to the airport's Twitter account.

Israeli Channel 2 reported that according to the Foreign Ministry 12 citizens have yet to  contact the Israeli consulate in Las-Vegas to verify that they are unhurt. The Foreign Ministry tweeted that its prayers are with the victims and their families.
   

Israel's Consul General in Los Angeles, Sam Grundwerg, told the Jerusalem Post there is no reports of Israelis harmed or directly affected by the attack in Las Vegas.

However, the consulate, which is in charge of the entire southwestern United States including Las Vegas, sent during the night a team to locate seven Israelis who didn't contact their families.

"There are Israelis we are still waiting to [make] contact, that does not necessarily mean that they are in danger or there is concern about them, but we are working in every way to reach them in the hope that we will be able to confirm soon they are safe," Grundwerg said.

Asked whether there were special instructions for Israeli officials or the Jewish community in the southwestern US, Grundwerg said that "although the motive of the shooter is not yet clear, [and] because this does not appear to be aimed at Jewish or Israeli targets, there is no reason for special instructions. At the moment all our efforts are aimed to contact the Israelis in Las Vegas".

Betty Rockaway, one of Israel's first supermodels who later started her own agency, posted on Facebook that she was inside the casino and trapped when the shooting began.




"I'm at the Michael Jackson: ONE show and there's shooting outside," Rockaway wrote. "The show has stopped and we're shut inside the hall - nobody can come in or out." Rockaway concluded her post with a prayer. Later replying to a comment, she said a friend of hers was gambling on the casino floor when the shooting began and ran to hide in one of the stores.

Las Vegas's casinos, nightclubs and shopping draw some 3.5 million visitors from around the world each year and the area was packed with visitors when the shooting broke out shortly after 10 p.m. local time.


Amy Spiro and Yair Ettinger contributed to this report.


Related Content
burning flag
December 11, 2017
No place for antisemitism in Germany, minister says after Israeli flags burned

By REUTERS

Israel Weather
  • 6 - 23
    Beer Sheva
    10 - 23
    Tel Aviv - Yafo
  • 10 - 21
    Jerusalem
    11 - 19
    Haifa
  • 12 - 24
    Elat
    11 - 23
    Tiberias