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11:49 am - Monday February 19, 2018

Gunman kills at least 58 people in Las Vegas

Agencies, Las Vegas

At least 58 people were killed and hundreds hurt when a 64-year-old gunman armed with more than 10 rifles opened fire on a Las Vegas country music festival on Sunday night, raining down bullets from a 32nd-floor window for several minutes before killing himself.

The death toll, which police emphasized was preliminary, would make the mass shooting the deadliest in U.S. history, eclipsing last year’s massacre of 49 people at an Orlando night club by a gunman who pledged allegiance to Islamic State militants.

About 22,000 people were in the crowd when a man police identified as Stephen Paddock opened fire from a room in the Mandalay Bay hotel, causing concertgoers to panic, some trampling on others as law enforcement officers scrambled to find the gunman. Shocked concertgoers, some with blood on their clothing, wandered the streets afterwards.

Police said they had no information about Paddock’s motive, that he had no criminal record and was not believed to be connected to any militant group. Paddock, of Mesquite, Nevada, killed himself before police entered the hotel room he was firing from, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters.

“We have no idea what his belief system was,” Lombardo said. Two senior U.S. government officials told Reuters that Paddock’s name was not on any database of suspected terrorists and that there was no evidence linking him to any international militant group. One of the two U.S. officials discounted a claim of responsibility that was made by Islamic State.

There was reason to believe that Paddock had a history of psychological problems, the official said. In its claim, Islamic State said that the gunman was a recent convert, according to the group’s news agency Amaq. Its claim did not include the gunman’s name and showed no proof. In the past, the group has also claimed responsibility for attacks without providing evidence.

Lombardo said there were more than 10 rifles in the room where Paddock killed himself. He had checked into the hotel on Thursday. Police found several weapons when they searched Paddock’s home, in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada, about 90 miles (145 km) northeast of Las Vegas, Mesquite police spokesman Quinn Averett told reporters.

The dead included one off-duty police officer, Lombardo said. Two on-duty officers were injured, including one who was in stable condition after surgery and one who sustained minor injuries, Lombardo said. Police warned the death toll may rise. U.S. President Donald Trump offered his condolences to the victims via a post on Twitter.

Posted in: Featured, World

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