Concert Comes To An Abrupt Halt In Las Vegas When Shots Ring Out

Oct 2, 2017
Originally published on October 2, 2017 11:44 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We are continuing our coverage of what happened in Las Vegas last night. It appears to be the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. We are told by the authorities that more than 50 people were killed when a gunman on an upper floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel fired down at thousands and thousands of concertgoers who had come for a country music festival. The gunman is dead, found, we're told by police - found dead in his hotel room. And we're going to be following this investigation and the situation in Las Vegas throughout the morning. I want to turn now to Rachel Crosby. She is a reporter with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Hi there, Rachel.

RACHEL CROSBY: Hello.

GREENE: Where are you right now and who have you been speaking to?

CROSBY: Well, right now I'm actually pulled over on the side of the road. But I've, through the night, been in contact with the people at UMC, University Medical Center. Sorry. It's our largest hospital here in Nevada, our only level-one trauma center. I've also been in contact with Las Vegas Police. Our Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Joe Lombardo has been giving updates throughout the night, confirming information as we get it.

GREENE: You said you spent time at one of - at the trauma center at the hospital.

CROSBY: Yeah. I was not inside. I definitely tried to stay out of the way. But I started the night outside of that hospital. Several of my coworkers went out to the scene, of course. But while I was there, I showed up as police had already shut down the surrounding streets to clear the way for first responders. I saw several people in scrubs, staff members, you know, filing into the hospital quickly - obviously, a little chaotic over there. But I also saw some people gathering outside of the hospital. And the - a little - very shortly after this all started, some people wondering, looking for answers, obviously crying, yelling, just trying to get information on their loved ones.

GREENE: Are people getting that information? I mean, or are we still at a point where people might not know if their friends or loved ones were - made it through this?

CROSBY: Well, I obviously do not know personally. But judging by the amount - just the amount of people injured - I mean, the latest number that our sheriff gave us just shortly ago is more than 400 injured and, of course, more than 50 dead. So I don't know if people are getting the information they want. But I do know that Metro has - which is our local police department - has been very communicative to the community. They set up a phone line for people who are in town and can't make it to police headquarters or people who were out of town. Obviously, Las Vegas is a huge tourist destination. They've set up a phone line specific to people who cannot get a hold of their friends and loved ones so they can get information through that phone line. Also locally, like I said, police have asked that relatives and friends who cannot get a hold of their loved ones to come down to the police headquarters. They have opened their doors, you know, made it very easy for them to get - to shuffle them inside the building, you know, away from media. I just chose to seek some information, you know, away from where all this happened.

GREENE: You know, when you when you mention how Las Vegas is this tourist destination, I'm always remembered - and obviously, I don't have to tell you this. But so many people know Las Vegas as a tourist destination and know the strip and sometimes overlook the fact that this is a community where a lot of people live and care very deeply about their city. And I just can't imagine how an event like this shakes a community.

CROSBY: Right. I mean, I was raised here, so I'm still a little in shock, of course. I know that the country music festival - I knew some people personally that we there that thankfully are OK. But it was a huge crowd. The sheriff said, at least, 22,000 were in attendance or very close by. And this is - these are people of all age ranges, obviously at a country music festival expecting to have a good time...

GREENE: Yeah.

CROSBY: ...Not worry about tragic and terrible stuff like this.

GREENE: Rachel, I'm glad your friends are OK.

CROSBY: Yeah, me too. But there's a lot of people here that aren't so - just thinking of them.

GREENE: Rachel Crosby is a reporter with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. We really appreciate you coming on with us and updating us.

CROSBY: Of course.

GREENE: I want to turn now to my colleague Ryan Lucas who covers the Justice Department here at NPR. As this investigation goes forward, I presume that investigators in Washington, the federal government are going to be getting involved in some way. What do you know at this point?

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Well, the FBI, at this point, is providing assistance as part of what's known as a joint response with the Las Vegas Police Department. And actually, the sheriff for Clark County, Joseph Lombardo, a couple of minutes ago had a press conference in Las Vegas in which he said that the FBI special agent was actually there with him, which gives an indication of, you know, how the FBI is directly involved already. We don't know a whole lot more at this point. There are a lot of questions, questions about Paddock's motivation, where his weapons came from. The police have said that they found 10 weapons in the room where Paddock was. They're going to want to...

GREENE: It's the 64-year-old who they say carried this out and...

LUCAS: Right. Right.

GREENE: ...Was found dead. Yeah.

LUCAS: And so they're going to want to trace those weapons, figure out where they came from, how he acquired them. That's something that the Las Vegas PD will be doing, and presumably the FBI can chip in on that.

GREENE: Are there are - have you watched the FBI go through investigations of mass shootings like this - and anything we should be looking for, anything you've sort of learned?

LUCAS: Well, if you look back to the attack on the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando that was perpetrated by Omar Mateen - in that case, in the days - hours and then days that that followed, the FBI provided something called - it has this Office of Victim Assistance. And so what they did is, they were on the scene kind of helping people who were caught up in the shooting, as well as family members, to try to provide support immediately afterwards. And then they also brought to bear what's known as an evidence response team. And what this does is - a lot of the work at the crime scene with kind of a, you know, trajectory analysis mapping out the scene of the crime. This is very methodical time-intensive work. But this is something that the FBI can can help out with.

GREENE: OK. That is NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lewis. Ryan, thank you.

LUCAS: Thank you.

GREENE: And again, we'll be following this news all morning long in the city of Las Vegas where a gunman, we're told by the authorities, killed more than 50 people last night, injuring at least 200. It sounds like it could be many more injured. And we'll have the latest as the morning goes on. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.