WASHINGTON: "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," has long been the sly tourism promotion slogan for Las Vegas, whose fortunes built on gambling and gamboling gave it the moniker Sin City. To that, add gun violence.
In what is being described as the Shooting in Las Vegas+ , a lone gunman massacred at least 58 people, shooting from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino before he killed himself even as a SWAT team stormed in. More than 500 people enjoying the country music show below were injured in a five-minute long stream of firing during which he discharged hundreds of rounds from one or more automatic weapons he had stocked in the hotel room he had checked into.
The gunman was later identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, a state that has a middling ranking in the country with regards to gun ownership laws. Police found in excess of 10 rifles in the room but said he had no significant criminal record. No motive had been established at the time of writing. His family members said they were shocked.
The attack was the deadliest shooting in the United States since 49 people were killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando+ , Florida in June 2016. The US media noted that each episode of gun violence in America is now getting deadlier than the previous one as the pro-gun lobby, which backed President Trump even as he warmed up to it, continues to prevail in the debate over gun control.
The carnage began shortly after 10pm local time when thousands of tourists and fans of country music were enjoying a performance by singer Jason Aldean at the Route 91 Harvest Festival outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino near the famous Las Vegas "Strip." Videos showed the rat-a-tat-a-tat of gunfire erupting during a song, but it appears it was initially mistaken for fireworks, and the song continued.
As realization dawned that it was gunfire and people were flailing and falling to bullets, the singer bolted from the stage and voices shouted ''get down! get down!'' For many, it was too late.
President Trump later tweeted his ''warmest condolences+ and sympathies to the victims and families'' even as a furious debate erupted yet again about the country's lax gun laws which allow people to own powerful automatic weapons that even law enforcement in many countries are not allowed to possess.
On Monday morning though Las Vegas was nursing the kind of hangover it had never experienced before.