12:08 PM CT UPDATE October 3:
We are learning more about Las Vegas mass shooter Stephen Paddock. First of all, the FBI believes that ISIS’ claim of responsibility was a lie, and Paddock had no connection with them.
So far, indications point more toward mental issues than any other motivation for the Vegas massacre, but it’s an ongoing investigation. It turns out that the killer lived by high stakes gambling, so one theory is that a big loss caused him to snap. But there’s no evidence of that as yet. Here is some more background, and the cliché once again surfaces of neighbors describing the perpetrator as a weirdly quiet loner who stayed to himself.
For those who are seeking genetic clues to the motivation of Vegas killer Stephen Paddock, it’s been revealed that in the ‘60s and ‘70s, his late father was on the FBI most-wanted list for a string of violent bank robberies and was considered armed, dangerous and “psychopathic” with possible suicidal tendencies. So the nut didn’t fall far from the tree.
It’s horrifying to contemplate, but the death toll in Las Vegas might’ve been even higher.
There were a number of stories of incredible heroism during the Las Vegas shooting, not only of police risking their lives to locate and neutralize the shooter, but of everyday concertgoers, caught in a life-threatening situation, but protecting others. Like Sonny Melton of Big Sandy, Tennessee: there to celebrate his one-year wedding anniversary, he died shielding his wife Heather from the bullets with his own body. Hospital workers said that many victims may have survived because instead of running away, strangers ripped up their shirts to make bandages for them or held their fingers in bullet holes to stop the bleeding.
At the link, the story of one young man who says that because of what happened to him and his sister, he went into the concert as an agnostic and came out as a firm believer in God.
2:03PM CT UPDATE:
Here is the latest update on the worst mass shooting in US history, last night at a country music festival in Las Vegas. The casualty numbers have risen to 58 people dead and more than 500 injured. It’s not clear how many were injured by bullets or in the stampede to escape. Police report that the shooter was 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a local retiree. He apparently killed himself before police could reach him. There was an unsubstantiated claim that he had recently converted to Islam and was inspired by ISIS, but his brother Eric denied that. He said the family is “dumbfounded,” that he had no political or religious affiliations, and that he was “just a guy” who “snapped, or something” and “this wasn’t a terrorist attack.”
This is a breaking story that’s being continually updated, so keep a close eye on the news for the latest developments. In the meantime, please join me in saying a prayer for the victims and their families. Sadly, some people already rushed to exploit this horrific tragedy to promote their political agendas, before the facts are even known. Now is not the time. This is a time to grieve and pray and offer comfort and support to those who need it. To those directly affected by this shocking attack, and to all the citizens of Las Vegas and the great people of Nashville who were heavily involved in the country music festival (and with whom I’ve been working closely on my upcoming TV show, so I've seen how this has shaken them), please know that you are in the hearts and prayers of millions of your fellow Americans.
Our prayers this morning are with the victims of what appears to be the worst mass shooting in US history, and with their families. Last night in Las Vegas, a sniper opened fire on the crowd at a country music festival outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel. At this writing, at least 50 people are believed dead and over 200 wounded. That makes the death toll even higher than last year’s attack in an Orlando nightclub that killed 49 people.
Las Vegas Police say the shooter was killed. He has been identified as local resident Stephen Paddock, 64. He’s not known to have connections to any radical group, and at this moment, his motivations are unknown. This is a breaking story. Keep watch on the news for more information as it comes in.