Las Vegas Is Stunned After Dozens Of People Were Killed At Concert

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

And we are focused on the situation in Las Vegas this morning. A gunman in a hotel there opened fire last night on concertgoers below. This was right near the Vegas Strip. Police are saying that at least 50 people were killed and over 200 have been injured. We heard earlier from Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo.

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JOSEPH LOMBARDO: So it's a devastating time, and it's unfortunate. And you know, we have been talking about active shooters in the past. And it's unfortunate it did occur here. But we have responded to the scene, and we're doing the best we can to provide safety for the survivors. And right now we believe it's a sole actor.

GREENE: And the shooter who is dead has been identified a 64-year-old Stephen Paddock. I want to bring in Blake Apgar. He is a reporter with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He rushed to the scene as soon as news of this came this morning. Hi there, Blake.

BLAKE APGAR: Hi.

GREENE: I know it's been an incredibly busy and tough morning for you. Can you just tell me where you are?

APGAR: Yeah. Yeah. So I got to the scene - I got to Mandalay Bay just before 11 o'clock. Things were still pretty hectic down here. But - gone into the garage of - the parking garage of the hotel. They were starting to push people out of the casino.

GREENE: And just just to describe this for people, Mandalay Bay is, you know, one of the landmark hotels on the Strip right near the airport. And this concert was happening outside, kind of within view of the hotel, right? So someone could go up to an upper floor and do what sounds like this guy did.

APGAR: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. And he was shooting from a high floor, 32nd floor, so he would have had a clear view into this concert area.

GREENE: Where are you now, and who have you been talking to?

APGAR: Right now I am in the lobby of the Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil theater here at Mandalay Bay. They took all of the people that were around the property, ushered them into this lobby, into this theater. There were several hundred people here earlier. They began evacuating people to the Thomas & Mack Center, which is the arena on the U of LV campus. I've been here since about 2 o'clock this morning local time. And about an hour ago, we got an update from a police officer saying that, you know, we had an evacuation plan for you. That plan is now canceled. I just got an update a couple of minutes ago before calling in that they are now taking people, escorting them to the Excalibur and Luxor, which are two resort properties just north of here, to be able to catch cabs or rideshare.

GREENE: So it's - I mean, this is hours past when this happened, and there are still people trying to figure out how to get a way home. I mean, they've just been sort of carted from one place to another and told to stay here or stay there and just wait this out.

APGAR: Yeah. And there was a lot of confusion before we even got to the theater, you know, with officers saying, you can't be in this location. They move us to another. And then we get to that location. And we're not able to be there. So there was some confusion with that. But you know, most people here - it's interesting because most people were sleeping on the ground. Or many people were sleeping on the ground. And reps were calling in. Most of those people popped up. And now there's quite a crowd in front of the exit.

GREENE: What are people describing? What strikes you as people who were, you know, I gather, just at a country music concert with Jason Aldean and then, I mean, this happens?

APGAR: Yeah. I talked to one gentleman earlier who said he was at the show enjoying the concert from a suite. And he heard about six gunshots, didn't think much of it. He said it sounded like fireworks and that no one seemed to react. And then there was a brief pause. And right after that, he said he heard about 40 gunshots going in rapid succession. Then there's another brief pause and about 30 more gunshots going through. He said, at that point, it was just chaos. There were people who were, you know, running toward the exits. There were people who are running toward the edges of the festival - excuse me - pool grounds. And you know, emergency responders were carrying people in wheelbarrows to emergency response vehicles. It's been quite the scene here.

GREENE: I just wonder how - I mean, you describe people being carried in wheelbarrows to get to be treated. I mean, what is communication like? Have people been able to find family members, friends who were at the concert to find out if they're hospitalized or what happened to them?

APGAR: Yes. The police department does have a phone number set up. They said those lines are busy but to keep calling back if there's a - if people are trying to locate their family members.

GREENE: How long have you lived in Las Vegas, Blake?

APGAR: I've been here about nine months now. I'm moved here beginning of the year.

GREENE: Is this something people have been talking about as a danger that just might happen at some point?

APGAR: Yeah. It's something that the police department here takes very seriously. They have counterterrorism measures. And I know that that's on top of everyone's mind with this being a tourist destination - is making sure that the people who visit the city are safe.

GREENE: All right. Blake Apgar is a reporter with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Blake, thanks a lot. I appreciate it.

APGAR: All right. Thank you.

GREENE: I just want to bring in my colleague Scott Detrow, who's been following all of this from our studios here in Washington this morning. Apparently, the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history - that's where we are this morning with this one lone wolf, as police are describing.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: That's right. We know, according to officials, more than 50 people are dead. And that makes it worse than the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, which had previously held that that terrible record. And we should say the information we have from authorities is about a couple hours old at this point. We expect to hear from authorities sometime in the next hour or so. But this number has gone from two to 20 to 50 since we first started covering the story. And we knew at the last update, more than 200 people additionally had been wounded.

GREENE: Yeah. That plus is very important. Our colleague Leila Fadel who's in Las Vegas has been stressing that - that it's - the authorities are saying 50 plus dead, 200 plus injured. So this is obviously something we'll be following. Scott Detrow, thanks a lot.

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GREENE: And just to round up the news, a shooting last night near the Las Vegas Strip. A gunman went up to a hotel room on the upper floors at Mandalay Bay and apparently fired into a concert, a country music festival. The authorities at this point are telling us that more than 50 people have been killed and more than 200 people have been injured last night in Las Vegas. And we'll be following all these developments throughout the... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.