Washington – At least 58 people have been slain and more than 500 injured in the deadliest mass shooting in US history at a music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The motive of the killer remains a mystery after what US President Donald Trump called “an act of pure evil” that had left the country feeling “sadness, shock and grief.”
The shooter was identified as Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, and authorities said he had no criminal record and police had no prior knowledge of him.
He opened fire on a crowd of more than 22,000 concert-goers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, across the road from the festival venue.
He died soon afterwards of a suspected self-inflicted wound when officers blasted open the door of his room, Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo said.
Trump ordered flags to fly at half mast and held a moment of silence alongside Vice President Mike Pence and their wives outside the White House.
He will fly to Las Vegas on Wednesday to “grieve with the friends and family of the victims, to offer his support to those recovering from their wounds and to thank the courageous first responders,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, called for stricter gun control measures, but Sanders said it was not an appropriate time for political debate.
“Now is the time to unite as a country. Today is a day for consoling the survivors, and mourning those we lost.”
Las Vegas officers found more than 10 rifles in the room used by Paddock, Lombardo said.
Shots broke out at 10:08 pm Sunday (0508 Monday GMT) near the end of a performance by singer Jason Aldean at the close of a country music festival.
Witnesses said the hail of bullets continued for 15 minutes or longer.
A woman who was at the event told dpa she heard multiple gunshots before fleeing, and said she “crawled over dead people” as she tried to get away.
Videos posted online showed people crouching on the ground as automatic gunfire crackles in the background. Some people stood and pointed to the hotel in the distance, while others held up smartphones even as they crouched for cover.
Authorities called for people who captured video or other digital evidence of the shooting to provide the data to investigators.
Hospitals issued an appeal for blood donations because the massive number of casualties had drained blood supplies.
The Islamic State terrorist movement claimed responsibility for the shooting, offering however no evidence to back up the claim. The group’s statement said that Paddock had converted to Islam several months ago.
Aaron Rouse, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Las Vegas office, told reporters “We have determined to this point no connection with an international terrorist group.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “shocked and alarmed” by the shooting.
Paddock, a white male, was a resident of Mesquite, Nevada, about 140 kilometres north-east of Las Vegas.
His brother Eric Paddock said on CNN that his brother had “absolutely” had no mental problems or political motives that the family was aware of.
Aldean wrote on social media that he and his band and crew were safe. He called the night “beyond horrific” and offered condolences.