Editorial: Carnage in Las Vegas: An act of pure evil

Americans were horrified and saddened by late Sunday night’s carnage in Las Vegas, where a gunman who was perched high on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas Strip casino unleashed a shower of bullets down on an outdoor country music festival below, killing at least 58 people and wounding more than 515.

 

Thousands of frantic concert-goers screamed and ran for their lives. Fortunately a number of brave first responders and other individuals stepped up and remained cool under fire, or the death toll could have been much worse. SWAT teams quickly descended on the concert and the casino, and officers used explosives to get into the hotel room where the suspect was inside.

The gunman was found dead at the scene and was identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, from Mesquite, Nevada. Investigators are still trying to discern Paddock’s motive. A SWAT team found Paddock dead with at least 10 rifles in his hotel room, where he had checked in several days earlier, suggesting the slaughter was a cold premeditated act.

It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Many Americans also are seeking answers and wondering why. But this is one of those acts that defy explanation. Only one answer seems to fit – evil.

President Trump was right to call the attack “an act of pure evil.” Federal investigators said they found no connection between the gunman and an international terrorist group, although ISIS tried to claim later Monday, without proof, that Paddock was acting on behalf of that group.

Thousands in the crowd fled as the bullets rained down. Hospital emergency rooms were jammed with victims delivered by ambulance. Others loaded the wounded into their cars and drove them to hospitals. Among those killed were two off-duty police officers who were attending the concert.

In addition to Paddock, police said they located a woman connected to Paddock. Marilou Danley, 62, was overseas at the time of the shooting and has spoken to authorities. Police said Danley was not believed to have been involved.

Hours after the shooting, country singer Jason Aldean posted on Instagram that he and his crew were safe and said the shooting was “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,” Mr. Aldean said. That’s what made this carnage so horrifying, senseless, and pure evil.

The shooting prompted reactions from politicians on both sides of the aisle in Washington and around the country. Typically, some called for greater gun control, as initial reports suggested that Paddock had obtained his firearms legally.

But leave it Mr. Trump to say the right things and to act presidential. He rightly urged the nation to stay unified, and that while people feel “great anger,” it is “our love that binds us today and always will.”

“In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one. And it always has,” Mr. Trump said Monday morning at the White House.

“Our unity cannot be shattered by evil” and “our bonds cannot be broken by violence.”

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise says he agrees with Mr. Trump that the shooting was “an act of pure evil.”

Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, returned to the Capitol last week after he was shot and critically wounded in June as he and fellow Republicans practiced for a congressional baseball game. Mr. Scalise said he prays for the victims of the shooting and that the whole nation grieves with their loved ones. All Americans should pray for the victims and their families and stand together in solidarity to support the Las Vegas community.

“In the face of unspeakable evil, our whole nation must respond with countless acts of kindness, warmth and generosity,” he said. As a victim of senseless violence, he should know.

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