Las Vegas attack leaves 58 deceased, local church responds

On Oct. 1st, 2017, at around 10 PM, Stephen Paddock opened fire into a crowd of around 22,000 people at a Jason Aldean concert at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. Paddock, a 64 year old accountant and local resident, shot from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel across the street for in between 5 and 15 minutes, killing 58, including himself, and injuring around 500 victims, making it the largest mass shooting in modern American history.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department arrived to the shooter’s location, the 31st floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, approximately seven minutes after they were first notified of the event. The police department stated that they heard shooting above them upon arrival. Later that night, they found Paddock’s body in the hotel room along with 17 firearms. Upon further investigation of the shooter, authorities learned that Paddock may have previously been plotting similar attacks to his original shooting. In August, a room was reserved in Paddock’s name at Blackstone, a high-rise Chicago hotel, in very close proximity to the music festival, Lollapalooza. However, no one stayed in the room. Similarly, in late September, during the Life Is Beautiful Music Festival, also located in Las Vegas, Paddock had a room reserved in a nearby condominium complex.

During the investigation, Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, was questioned by authorities who believed she could have been an accomplice. However, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo released a statement that Danley was thought not to be involved in the incident at the time. It was later revealed that Paddock bought an airplane ticket to the Philippines for Danley, and electronically sent her $100,000 to buy a house. While speaking to the FBI on Wednesday, October 4th, Danley said that “honestly [she] was worried it was a way for him to break up with [her.]”

A Las Vegas area hospital, Dignity Health- St. Rose Dominican waived the medical bills of the 71 victims they treated. The Valley Health system also announced that the 232 victims they treated would be eligible for the “Victims of Violent Crimes Program,” which covers full costs of treatment upon submission of an application. Furthermore, the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada is currently working with donors to help cover the costs that aren’t covered by insurance. University Medical Center primarily treated 104 patients, but received more from other hospitals because of the severity of wounds. The New York Times reported that donors outside of one blood donation site formed a line that “stretched three blocks.”

There has also been a response locally within the Poolesville community. On Tuesday, October 3rd, St. Peter’s Church “[joined] churches across the country and [tolled their] bells in mourning for the victims of the shooting.” Each bell represented one casualty in the shooting reported at that time.