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At Least 59 Dead, 500 Injured at Las Vegas Country Music Festival

Other artists scheduled for the weekend festival included Eric Church, Sam Hunt, Jake Owen, and Maren Morris

UPDATED: In the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, at least 59 people have died and more than 500 were injured after a gunman opened fire on attendees of the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival near the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

Police named Stephen Paddock, 64, as the gunman, and said that the Mesquite, Nev., resident was now dead by his own hand. A motive for the attack remains unclear.

FBI agent Aaron Rouse, who oversees Las Vegas for the bureau, dismissed a claim by the Islamic State terror group that Paddock was one of its operatives. “We have determined to this point no connection with an international terrorist group,” Rouse said. “We will continue to work with our partners to ensure that this is factually, thoroughly and absolutely investigated.”

According to local reports, the concertgoers were shot with a high-powered assault rifle from the 32nd floor of the hotel. Police responded to the incident about 10 p.m. local time. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Undersheriff Kevin McMahill told CNN that officers on the ground saw that the shots were coming from the hotel. A SWAT team then stormed the hotel room in which Paddock was holed up.

“We believe the individual killed himself prior to our entry,” Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said, adding that at least 10 guns were found in the room.

A Las Vegas hospital first reported that two people were killed in the attack, with 24 injured. But as the night wore on, the death toll was increased to 20, and then “in excess of 50.” Police said 515 people were wounded.

Lombardo told reporters that Paddock was believed to be “the sole aggressor” and that police had “no idea what his belief system was.” McMahill said that checks in Nevada and nationwide had yielded “no derogatory history” on Paddock. Investigators have taken items from Paddock’s residence and are expected to search other properties associated with him.

Police also said that Paddock’s traveling companion, Marilou Danley, whom they had sought as a “person of interest,” had been located. Danley is out of the country, Lombardo said, and is now not believed to be involved in the attack.

The shooting broke out at the end of a Jason Aldean set, with some witnesses reporting that they had heard possibly hundreds of shots and saw at least one officer down. Videos posted to Twitter show concertgoers sheltering in place as gunshots are heard ringing throughout the area.

Singer Jake Owen, who performed earlier and had joined Aldean on stage, told CNN: “This is not an exaggeration: This shooting was going on for at least 10 minutes. I mean, it was nonstop.”

Aldean called for prayers for the victims, saying on Instagram that “tonight has been beyond horrific….It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night.”

Other artists scheduled to play on the main stage of the festival, which spanned the weekend, include Eric Church, Sam Hunt, Maren Morris, the Brothers Osborne, Lee Brice and more.

“This is a day I wish that I had never had to see here in my 27 years in law enforcement,” Undersheriff McMahill said.

Flights in and out of McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas’ main air hub, were also temporarily grounded.

Thanking first responders, MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay Bay Hotel, said police had requested hotels in the vicinity be put on lockdown to ensure guest safety.

 

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Shooting at Route 91

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