At 10:00 P.M. (1:00 A.M. ET) on Sunday, October 2, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) responded to reports of a shooting at a country music festival.
More than 22,000 people were in the audience at the time as country music singer Jason Aldean was onstage.
According to NBC News, as the concertgoers heard a barrage of shots being fired off they began reacting; either crouching or laying flat on the ground or running for cover near side streets or buildings.
“We heard what sounded like firecrackers going off. Then all of a sudden we heard what sounded like a machine gun. People started screaming that they were hit…When we started running out, there were probably a couple hundred [people] on the ground,” witness Meghan Kearney told MSNBC.
A concertgoer named Brian Claypool told Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts that following the first round of shots; he ran down the aisle, urging others to get down on the ground and doing so himself.
Once he was able to, he ran to a production room within the venue where six young women were waiting, scared.
“The hardest part for me was—I saw six young women, they were maybe 20, 22. They were all crying on the ground. I was trying to be calm. […] We didn’t know where the shooter was. We thought he was going to jump the fence and come into this room and shoot us all.”
The shooter was identified as Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, a resident of Mesquite, Nevada. Paddock had reportedly checked into the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on September 28, according to CBS News.
According to NBC News, following the shooting, which lasted at least ten minutes; law enforcement officials found two broken windows from the 32nd floor of the resort. It is believed that Paddock had requested adjoining rooms or a suite to either shoot from several vantage points or to avoid return-fire.
Upon entry of his room, Paddock was found dead and with an “excess of 10 rifles,” according to LVMPD Sherriff Joseph Lombardo.
According to authorities, Paddock had no prior criminal record except for a citation he received several years ago. He had apparently bought multiple firearms in the past, several in California, according to CNN.
CNN also reports that one of the rifles used in the shooting was likely altered to function as an automatic weapon.
According to The New York Times, Paddock was divorced with no children and was living with a woman rumored to be his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, in a retiree community.
The BBC reported that Danley was located outside of the U.S. and had been interviewed but was “no longer being sought out as a person of interest.”
In fact, according to Las Vegas authorities, it was believed that Paddock had been “utilizing some of her identification”—having used her ID to check into the resort.
President Trump addressed the nation, thanking the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and first responders “for helping to save the lives of so many” and calling the shooting, “an act of pure evil.”
In his address, the president said that he would be going to Las Vegas on Wednesday. There, he will be meeting with Nevada’s governor, Brian Sandoval, the city’s mayor, Carolyn Goodman and Sherriff Lombardo.
The shooting is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history with 59 individuals dead and 527 individuals injured according to the LVMPD official Twitter page.
“I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness,” President Trump said. “The answers do not come easy.”