3 years ago yesterday, a 64-year-old man from Mesquite, Nevada killed 58 people and wounded 411 others when he opened fire on a crowd at a music festival in Las Vegas.
The killer wasn't identified until the next day, but was found about an hour after letting 1,000 rounds loose on a crowd, dead in his hotel room. His motive is still entirely undetermined. The shooting remains the deadliest mass shooting in United States history.
Stephen Paddock was a 64-year-old living in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada. A twice divorced atheist, he was a former auditor and real estate businessman. He had a girlfriend and no children. While his father was one of the FBI's most wanted between 1969 and 1977 for bank robbery, Paddock's only run-ins with the law were traffic-related.
In his retirement, he was a high-stakes gambler. While he was a regular to casino hosts in Las Vegas, other high-stakes gamblers didn't know him well because he mostly played video poker. He kept to himself, drank a lot, and had recently paid off all of his gambling debts before the shooting.
According to his girlfriend, while they were staying at the Mandalay Hotel before the attack, he repeatedly cased out the Las Vegas Village from different windows. It is believed that he may have planned to target a different event. He had been researching large-scale events in big cities since May of 2017. In fact, he had reserved a room overlooking the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago in August, but never used it. He also booked a hotel in September and overlooked the Life is Beautiful Festival.
He arrived at the Las Vegas hotel on September 25, 2017 and booked into a complimentary room on the 32nd floor. He spent most of his time gambling during his stay. He interacted with employees regularly, twice on the day of the shooting. He seemed "normal".
Throughout the days leading up to the carnage, hotel bellmen helped him bring suitcases to his room. 5 suitcases on the 25th, 7 on the 26th, 6 on the 30th, and 2 on the 1st. These suitcases were holding an impressive arsenal of weapons, including 14 AR-15 rifles with bump stocks and 100-round magazines, 8 AR-10 rifles, a bolt-action rifle, and a revolver. He placed a "Do not disturb" sign on his door on September 30.
The shooting occurred on October 1, 2017 between 10:05 PM and 10:15 PM. The shooting began as country singer Jason Aldean began his closing performance at the music festival.
Shortly before the shooting started, a hotel security guard went to the 32nd floor to investigate an open-door alert. He found that the door to grant him access to the floor would not open. Once he got in, he found a bracket screwed into the door and door frame, which was stopping the door from opening. Once he made this discovery, he heard what he believed to be rapid drilling. But at 10:05, he realized what the sound was. Bullets. He was hit in the right thigh by about 1 of 35 bullets Paddock fired through the door of his room.
While upstairs, the security guard, Jesse Campos, ran into a colleague, Stephen Schuck, and told him to take cover. They contacted dispatchers over the radio and told them of the shooting.
He used a hammer to break 2 of the windows in his suite, and began shooting through them. He fired over 1,000 rounds into the festival audience. He started with a few gunshots, before firing in bursts of 80-100 rounds within a short timespan. Originally, audience members mistook the gunfire for fireworks. It wasn't until people began collapsing, and there was no magic in the sky, that they realized that it was a shooting.
Originally, the police couldn't figure out which hotel the attack was coming from, or if it was coming from the festival itself. Once they spotted flashes of gunfire from the Mandalay Bay hotel, they responded and headed to the 32nd floor. They encountered Campos, who directed the police to Paddock's room.
Back up arrived between 10:26 and 10:30 onto the 32nd floor, and though the shooting had stopped, Paddock had bracketed his door shut. Once all of the guests were evacuated from the hotel, they were able to breach his room. At 11:20 PM, they found Paddock dead on the floor of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
58 people went to the music festival that evening and would never return. 36 women and 22 men, ranging from ages 20-67 were killed. 52 of the 58 victims had traveled out of state for the concert, while only 6 lived in Las Vegas. 31 of them died at the scene, while 37 succumbed to their injuries at the hospital later. The last victim died on October 3.
49 people had just lost their lives in June of 2016 in the Orlando nightclub shooting, which, at the time, was the deadliest mass shooting in United States history. It only held that morbid title for just over a year before the 2017 Las Vegas shooting took that title.
In November of 2019, a 57-year-old woman who had been paralyzed during the shooting died, and the shooting was her official cause of death. Then, in May of 2020, a 49-year-old woman died from complications from her gunshot wound. Though they were not counted in the death toll originally, just yesterday, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department included both deaths, bringing the death toll to 60.
An addition 868 people were injured. 412 of them were either shot, or were injured via shrapnel from the shooting, while others were injured in the ensuing panic and escape.
On October 2, the suspect was identified as Stephen Paddock.
The morning after the shooting, people waited as long as 6 hours to donate blood to the victims. Over 800 units of blood in Las Vegas alone were donated. Millions of dollars were raised to help the victims and their families.
President Donald Trump described Stephen Paddock as we describe all white men who murder a bunch of people: a sick man, a lone wolf, etc. Trump and his supporters argued that "new laws won't stop a mad man" even though no other country sees shootings like the United States does.
During and after the shooting, a lot of misinformation was spread. A thread was posted that misidentified the shooter as a registered Democrat, a fake news site spread false information that there was a second shooter, the shooting was falsely linked to Antifa, and ISIS claimed that he was one of their soldiers, though that was determined to be entirely false.
Both Google and Facebook were criticized for displaying fake news stories. Facebook claimed that its algorithms were meant to detect and remove fake stories, but it failed in this instance.
And, like always, the survivors were accused of being "crisis actors" and received death threats on social media.
The shooting, yet again, sparked debate about assault weapons. The U.S. Congress called for a ban on bump stocks. Most Democrats, and some Republicans, expressed support for the new legislation. Gun sales rose the day after the shooting, as is common because people are fearful that their guns will be taken from them.
At an October 4 press conference, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo stated that there was evidence that he had planned to escape the scene, but ultimately decided to commit suicide. The police provided incorrect information about the timeline of Campos being shot during different press conference, further fueling some people's belief that the shooting was a conspiracy of some sort.
After a 10-month investigation, no conspiracy or second gunman had been found, but neither had a motive. The official report is that there was no clear motivating factor for Stephen Paddock to gun down 60 people.
Hannah Ahlers, 34. Mother of 3 with her husband of 17 years.
Heather Alvarado, 35. Mother of 3 with her firefighter husband.
Dorene Anderson, 49. "She was the most amazing wife, mother, and person this world ever had."
Carrie Barnette, 34. She had just bought a house, and died with her friend by her side.
Jack Beaton, 54. Celebrating his 23rd anniversary with his wife. He draped his body over hers to protect her.
Steve Berger, 44. Celebrating his 44th birthday. A fun-loving father of 3.
Candice Bowers, 40. A single mother who just adopted a 2-year-old daughter.
Denise Burditus, 50. Had 2 children and 4 grandchildren with a 5th on the way, and a husband of 32 years.
Sandy Casey, 34. A special education teacher who attended the concert with her fiance.
Andrea Castilla, 28. She was at the concert for her 28th birthday, and died holding hands with her sister.
Denise Cohen, 58. "I feel sorry for all the people in the world who never got a chance to meet her," her son said. Her boyfriend died in the shooting, as well.
Austin Davis, 29. "I will love you until by dying day baby," his girlfriend posted.
Thomas Day, Jr., 54. A huge country music fan with 4 adult children.
Christina Duarte, 22. Visiting the city with her parents after graduating and getting a job with the LA Kings.
Stacee Etcheber, 50. Her husband, a cop, ran to help others, and they got separated. She had 2 young children.
Brian Fraser, 39. A family man with a group of 20 family members and friends. He had 4 children.
Keri Galvan, 31. A mom of 3 young children, at the concert for a weekend getaway.
Dana Gardner, 52. The "most wonderful mother, grandmother, and sister."
Angela Gomez, 20. "She was my life," her boyfriend said. She was studying nursing, and was the youngest victim of the attack.
Rocio Guillen Rocha, 40. At the concert with her fiance. She was a "supermom" to 4 children.
Charleston Hartfield, 34. "He was the funniest guy," colleagues said about the military veteran.
Chris Hazencomb, 44. He died using his body to protect his friend's wife, summarizing how he selflessly lived his life.
Jennifer Topaz Irvine, 42. "She was an adventurous person, a very social, loving, caring, inclusive person."
Teresa Nicol Kumura, 38. "She made you jealous of how much she loved life," a friend said.
Jessica Klymchuk, 34. A mother of 4, she was a librarian and a bus driver to connect with the elementary students in many ays.
Carly Kreibaum, 33. A mother of 2 young children and a beloved wife.
Rhonda LeRocque, 42. The couple were vacationing with their 6-year-old. She was devoutly religious.
Victor Link, 55. "Thank you so much for being the best dad any son could ever have," his son posted on Facebook. "I love you so much dad."
Jordan McIldoon, 23. "He was the love of my life," his girlfriend said of her outdoorsy boyfriend who was days away from turning 24.
Kelsey Meadows, 28. Smart, compassionate, and kind. A gifted teacher with a love for children.
Calla-Marie Medig, 28. She had put her promotion at work on hold to attend the festival, a serious country music lover.
James "Sonny" Melton, 29. "At this point I can barely breathe," his wife said of her husband who immediately protected her when the shots began.
Patricia Mestas, 67. A lover of country music. Remembered as being "young at heart", though she was the oldest victim.
Austin Meyer, 24. Passionate about cars, and loved the Boston Celtics.
Adrian Murfitt, 35. "He had this big, jovial, goofy laugh. He'd always try to do the right thing," his sister said.
Rachel Parker, 33. The face of the Manhattan Beach Police Department as a civilian employee. Funny, smart, and bubbly.
Jenny Parks, 36. A kindergarten teacher and mother of 2.
Carrie Parsons, 31. She had recently gotten engaged in Hawaii.
Lisa Patterson, 46. A devout Catholic who loved to coach youth sports.
John Phippen, 56. A dune-buggy enthusiast who shielded a woman near him when he was killed. "He gave his life for someone he didn't even know," said his son who was at the concert with him.
Melissa Ramirez, 26. She loved her family and would come home over weekends to visit her parents.
Jordyn Rivera, 21. "I'm just in disbelief that someone so sweet and genuine is now no longer here," a friend said.
Quniton Robbins, 20. He spent his final moments with his sister. "Everyone who met him loved him," his aunt said.
Cameron Robinson, 28. Love to cook, run marathons, travel, and be outside.
Tara Roe, 34. A mother of 2 young boys who attended the concert with her husband.
Lisa Romero-Muniz, 48. Was a school counselor, and was a "mentor and advocate for students in many of our schools."
Chris Roybal, 28. Survived combat in Afghanistan, died going to a concert. He had just moved to Colorado with his wife.
Brett Schwanbeck, 61. A loving father of 3 and grandfather of 4 and an outdoorsman.
Bailey Schweitzer, a former cheerleader with smile that could light up a room.
Laura Shipp, 50. "She was his world and he was hers," her brother said of her son, a Marine she raised on her own.
Erick Silva, 21. He was working as a security guard at the show. He was the "epitome of integrity".
Susan Smith, 53. A great sense of humor, patient, kind. "A sweet person," many said of the elementary school office manager.
Brennan Stewart, 30. The fun-loving singer shielded his girlfriend in the last moments of his life.
Derrick "Bo" Taylor, 56. Attended the concert with his girlfriend, Denise Cohen, who also died. He had 2 adult sons.
Neysa Tonks, 46. A vivacious mother of 3 who lived each day like her last.
Michelle Vo, 32. An independent woman with a strong personality who loved to travel the world.
Kurt von Tillow, 55. Known for his patriotism, love of golf, and his family. He loved his grandchildren more than anything.
Bill Wolfe, 42. His relatives flew to Las Vegas as soon as they heard, before they learned he was one of the dead.
58 people. 2 in the following years. A senseless, needless carnage. And yet, nothing changes.
It is honestly insane to me, and I feel terrible for it, but I actually forgot about this. As soon as I saw the city and the perpetrator I remembered, but somehow in 3 years, I forgot about a shooting that killed 60 people and injured 800+ more.
What is also crazy is that in 2016, the United States experienced its deadliest shooting by a single perpetrator in the history of the country. That is a long history! And in 2016, the "record" was set. And then, in the next year, it was immediately overtaken, by 11 lives. It is horrifying that in back-to-back years, we had to change our "deadliest shooting" statistics. 60 people who went to a freaking music festival and were killed for it. For no reason at all.
Rest in peace to the 60 victims of this senseless crime.