Las Vegas Resident Opens Fire On Concertgoers, Kills Dozens
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
We're following the events this morning in Las Vegas, the scene of the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history last night. Here's what we know at this point - at least 50 people were killed; more than 200 have been wounded. The shooter has been identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock. He has been described as a Las Vegas resident. Still a lot of questions to be answered about motive and whether the suspect was acting alone. President Trump has put out a statement on Twitter saying, quote, "my warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you." We also heard this morning from Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
JOSEPH LOMBARDO: Obviously, this is a tragic incident and one that we have never experienced in this valley.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Apparently never experienced anywhere now that we know that the death toll is around 50 dead. We don't know if it's going to go higher. Authorities are still trying to get their hands around the situation. Sheriff Lombardo has said that the suspect Stephen Paddock who was killed inside the Mandalay Bay Hotel was, quote, "a sole actor, a lone wolf." But as with the death toll, we need to note that all facts that we think are facts at this time, which we're passing on to you the best we can, may be subject to change. We may learn more as events develop.
Let's go now to Blake Apgar. He's a reporter with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He has been unsurprisingly up all night. He ran to the scene as soon as he heard of the shooting. And, Mr. Apgar, what did you do, where did you go and what did you see?
BLAKE APGAR: Well, I heard over the police scanner that there was a shooting at Mandalay Bay or an active shooter in the area. And as soon as you hear those words, that's the time that you just jump in the car and get down there. So I went straight to Mandalay Bay, parked in the parking garage. It was still a very frantic scene at that moment. As I went toward the casino area, police were - police and security were starting to usher people out of the building and into the ground floor of the parking garage.
INSKEEP: So you're inside the building and people are on their way out of the building. What happened then?
APGAR: That's right. So about 20 minutes after that I started walking around the building, walked outside of the parking garage, started walking towards the Las Vegas strip, and that's when I encountered a man who, I mean, he was panicked and told me, you know, get in the bushes, crouch down, there's a shooter up on - up on a high level. And he told me to just be quiet and sit down. A few minutes after that, two police officers carrying rifles came by. They checked in with us to make sure we were OK and told us to stay where we were.
INSKEEP: Now, as this situation developed, it appeared that the deadliest place to be was at the concert outside where we have seen videos of thousands of people outdoors, and suddenly you hear the rattling of gunfire, and you hear people beginning to move. Where did everyone - where did everyone go? Were people able to escape? Were there safe escape routes?
APGAR: It was such a chaotic moment, and I wasn't at the festival, so I don't have a firsthand account of this, but people that I have talked to about it, one man told me, you know, there were a few shots. No one thought much of it because they thought it was - they thought they were fireworks or something like that. There was a brief pause and then he heard a rapid succession of gunshots. He said up to 40, and that's when chaos ensued, and people started rushing toward the exit or rushing toward the side of the festival grounds.
INSKEEP: And for those just joining us, we'll mention that the sheriff in Clark County, Nev., has said that something upwards of 50 people are believed to be dead here, which makes it the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history in Las Vegas, Nev.
Now, Mr. Apgar, I want to ask you another question. There have been numerous mass shootings, very high-profile mass shootings in recent years. There have been terror attacks as well. People have had to think about the security of situations with large crowds. And Las Vegas from time to time has been mentioned as a potential target, a place that is vulnerable to somebody like this, a single shooter with a very powerful weapon or, according to our reporters, perhaps several rifles. Had people thought about this very much, thought about security on this trip, thought about what might go wrong?
APGAR: Yeah. Being a tourist town, that's at the top of everyone's mind is the safety and security of the people who come and visit our city. I can tell you that the police department, from what I know, they work hard with counterterrorism efforts. And I know they're saying that this was a lone wolf thing as far as they know.
INSKEEP: Well, Blake Apgar of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, thanks for your insights, glad you're safe.
APGAR: All right. Thank you.
INSKEEP: And let's bring another voice into the conversation now. NPR's Scott Detrow is with us as we begin - as we continue, rather, to bring in facts, the latest that we know about a shooting in Las Vegas that appears to have left something upwards of 50 people dead. The shooter also dead - 64-year-old Stephen Paddock. And, Scott, how are people responding to this across the country today?
SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: We've only had a brief statement from President Trump, and that was on Twitter just a few minutes ago saying that his warm condolences and sympathies are going to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. That's all we've heard from the White House, just that tweet; no official statements or any indications that his day is going to change and that he's going to give public remarks. Of course, that is something you typically do expect from a situation like this, and I imagine that will change as the day goes on.
GREENE: And people want - people want to hear something from the president of United States, any president of the United States, in a moment like this, some reassurance, some calm, some reaction.
DETROW: That's right. And on the flip side, though, we have seen an interesting trend over the last few shootings like this where members of Congress - as is happening right now - they say my thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this shooting. There's been a real backlash to that initial statement of solidarity in the last two years, especially from people who want to see more gun control, saying what will you do beyond that? Thoughts and prayers aren't enough. Yet we are seeing that from all sides Democrats and Republicans waking up to the news, reading it and tweeting that they're just horrified that yet again we're all having the same conversation that they - that this death toll is beyond what we've talked about before.
INSKEEP: And let's mention something that is going to be asked in the next hours and days that relates to gun control. We heard the video of the gunshots, very rapid bursts of gunfire, sounded to us - can't be sure but sounded to us like shots coming faster than you could pull a trigger, which would suggest an automatic weapon.
GREENE: Yeah, no gun expert but, I mean, it certainly sounded that way.
INSKEEP: And not a semiautomatic weapon - an automatic weapon. And if it were such a weapon, it would be an illegal weapon. They are more or less effectively banned by a couple of different laws in the United States. And so one question will be what kind of weapons did the shooter have? And another question may well be how did that shooter get those weapons? Again, around 50 people or more dead in Las Vegas. We'll bring more - bring you more as we learn it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.