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Tragedy in Las Vegas

Emma Ryan

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The recent tragedy in Las Vegas has touched the lives and hearts of many Americans, and an inordinate amount of sympathy and support has been extended to the victims of the attack and their families. Because this took place at a country music festival, the Nashville community has felt heavy-hearted and compassionate towards the victims in Las Vegas, knowing that this could’ve happened at any one of the various music festivals that Nashville hosts throughout the year. Nashville is also a hub for country music artists and hosts the world’s largest country music festival, CMA Fest, every year. The Nashville community and the Harpeth Hall community have struggled to understand and grasp what took place in Las Vegas on October 1st, and both feel a tremendous amount of sorrow and heartbreak for those affected by the attack.

When asking students about their reactions and feelings towards the attack, their responses were heavy-hearted and empathetic. One student described, “When I first heard about it, I felt overwhelmingly numb. Violence, specifically gun violence, happens too often.” Another student said, “When I heard about the Las Vegas shooting, I was devastated. Seeing such a large group of innocent Americans lose their lives within minutes was tragic.” The most passionate response from a student came from senior Audrey Overholt:

“I think this shooting is just another example of why we need better gun policies in the United States. Shootings keep happening and it seems like no reform is happening in government. Policy makers should keep party interests out of gun policy because we need to start being more adamant about prioritizing the safety of our citizens. I think this event makes it clear that no one should ever have easy access to semiautomatic weapons and that the second amendment has serious defects.”

It is clear that this event has had a profound impact on many of our students and that they are passionate about taking action to prevent something like this from happening in the future.

So what exactly happened on October 1st in Las Vegas?

At 10:05 pm, a round of gunshots was fired into the crowd of the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. Thousands of spectators were enjoying live music as country star Jason Aldean performed onstage when suddenly gunshots were fired and people ran to take cover. The shots came from an upper floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, about 400 yards from the stage. Many of the spectators thought the shots were fireworks, but as people started fleeing and falling to the ground, it soon became clear to everyone that the festival was under fire.

Everything turned to chaos, and people didn’t know whether to run or hide, knowing that they risked getting shot either way. Police officers helped direct the crowd, call in for backup and support, and get people to medical tents. Two police officers went into the hotel and made their way up to the 31st floor and discovered that the shots were being fired from directly one floor above them with an automatic weapon. The shooting lasted for a little over 10 minutes.

After the police identified which room and floor the gunman, Stephen Paddock, was on, they called in for backup from SWAT teams. After the SWAT teams broke into room 135 on the 32nd floor, they found Stephen Paddock dead on the floor from a self-inflicted gunshot wound with firearms laying next to him. Paddock killed 58 innocent people and wounded over 500 more.

The investigation into Paddock’s life and his motives is ongoing, but he apparently had been accumulating weapons for many years. He was a well-known “high-stakes gambler,”(someone who wagers large sums of money and receives benefits from casinos) invested in real-estate, had his pilot’s license, and owned two planes. Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, was in the Philippines at the time of the shooting and said she had no idea of her boyfriend’s plans. She also said that he was the one who had sent her away to the Philippines and wired money to her while she was there. Danley said that she never thought Paddock was capable of anything like this.

Paddock’s father was a well-known bankrobber in the 1970s and was on the F.B.I.’s most wanted list while Paddock and his three other brothers grew up with their mother. Two of Paddock’s brothers have interviewed with various media sources, both of them saying that they would’ve never expected this from him. Paddock also has no criminal record or affiliation with political, religious, or white supremacist groups. So why did he do it? Stephen Paddock’s decision remains unclear, but the investigation is continuing and will not stop until the police uncover why he decided to harm so many people and become the reason for the biggest massacre in modern U.S. history.

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Tragedy in Las Vegas