Mass Shooting Victims Inundate Las Vegas Hospitals

6 hours ago
Originally published on October 2, 2017 11:44 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And we're continuing to cover the aftermath of a deadly shooting last night in the city of Las Vegas. This was a mass shooting at an outdoor country music festival on the Strip. There are over 50 people dead, we are told by police, and more than 400 people hospitalized. Now, police believe the shooter, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, killed himself after opening fire from the 32 floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay Hotel. Pam Schneider (ph) from Bismarck, N.D., was at the country music festival with four of her friends. She told us that she stepped away to go use the restroom. And as soon as she left, the shooting started. She was hiding behind a bar cooler for much of the time until she gathered the courage to run across the street into a building.

PAM SCHNEIDER: What was scary is you didn't know if the shooter or shooters were right there in the venue. And people would be running and running - and just crowds of people. And so you'd be going with them. And then all of a sudden, it's like everybody would turn and run another direction because they were so confused not knowing where the gunfire was coming from.

GREENE: She said she did get good news about her friends that they were not injured, but she told us that she still feels in shock.

SCHNEIDER: It was terrifying because where I had gone, when I left my friends, was over in the area by the Mandalay Bay along the Strip. And I knew I had to get out of there and across the street to another hotel, someplace safe inside - and having to run across that street by myself and not knowing was I moving target or not.

GREENE: That's the voice of Pam Schneider (ph) from Bismarck, N.D. who had come to go to a country music concert last night in Las Vegas - again, at least 50 people killed, according to police - hundreds of others wounded.

We have Congressman Ruben Kihuen on the line. He's a Democrat in Congress who represents a district that includes some of the city of Las Vegas. Congressman, welcome to the program. Thank you for taking the time for us.

RUBEN KIHUEN: Thank you, Dave.

GREENE: There was one person describing just the utter panic at that concert. I understand that you've been visiting with some of the victims of the shooting at a local hospital. I'm wondering what - who you've talked to and what you've heard.

KIHUEN: Yeah. That's right. I'm actually right now at the Las Vegas Metro Police Central Command Center. But right before coming here, I visited the Sunrise Hospital, which was one of the main hospitals that was taking in some of the victims. And let me just tell you, I have never seen a scene like the one that I just saw this morning. There's about 190 people taking up, I mean, every single bed possible, every single room possible, every single hallway possible in the hospital. And every single nurse, every single doctor from all over the city came and are assisting a lot of these victims. And you know, I just want to say thank you to each and every one of those nurses and doctors and police officers and firefighters and all the first responders who are saving lives right now as we speak.

GREENE: I just worry about the scene you're describing - people taking up every bed, every open space. I mean, do you think hospitals in the city can can handle this? We've been told that at least 400 people have been taken to hospitals.

KIHUEN: That's correct. At this particular hospital, there was 190 victims - 93 of them included, you know, there were folks who didn't even have an I.D. And so we're also working on trying to find their family members. But multiple hospitals have taken in a lot of these victims. Everybody has stepped up here in the community. I mean, you know, the scene out there was just, you know, strangers helping strangers, you know, people lending their trucks and their cars, putting people in their car and taking them to the hospital - you know, other scenes where somebody's giving somebody else, you know, CPR. I mean, this is the best of humanity. And it's unfortunate that it took an incident like this for us to come together. But what I saw today is just something to be proud of. I'm very proud to be a Las Vegan and very proud to be in Nevada today.

GREENE: You're describing just, like, fellow concertgoers who might have known how to do CPR actually treating people out there and trying to help them in the moment?

KIHUEN: That is correct. I mean, I've seen so many, you know, videos and pictures of people helping each other out. And let me just tell you, I'm just so proud that all these folks - and many of them just didn't know each other - are just out there helping each other out. And I'm very proud of that. And also I'm very proud of the police officers who, you know, risked their lives, you know, while this person was on top of a hotel, you know, shooting down at people - at innocent people. These police officers were moving in on him, you know, going up the stairs and looking for this armed person. And I just want to say thank you to all the first responders, the police officers, again, the nurses for saving lives, the doctors for doing surgery as we speak. You know, it's just a very - unfortunately a very unfortunate incident. But again, I'm very proud that our community has come together, and we're seeing the best of humanity today.

GREENE: Congressman, before I let you go, my colleague who covers Congress, Scott Detrow, is in the studio. I think he wanted to ask you one question.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey, Congressman. We've seen so much of a reaction from your colleagues in the House and in the Senate saying what we typically hear after attacks like this - that they're horrified, they're sickened, their thoughts and prayers are with the victims. But the last few times there's been a mass shooting, there's been increasing pushback from people saying thoughts and prayers aren't enough from elected officials. What can you do to make sure we're not talking about the largest mass shooting in U.S. history every year and a half or so?

KIHUEN: Well, look. I mean, today's not a day to talk politics. I'm sure there's going to be many discussion of what needs to happen moving forward as far as, you know, keeping our American citizens safe. You know, today more importantly, we just want to lend moral support and any support possible to the victims, to the families who are suffering. I mean, we're hearing that, you know, as of right now over 50 people have passed. Over 400 people have been wounded. And again, right now we're just lending support to those families to make sure that we're there for them. We'll have a discussion I'm sure in the weeks and months to come and Congress, but right now we just want to be there for our constituents and for our fellow Americans.

GREENE: Congressman, President Trump is expected to speak shortly about this. What are you hoping to hear?

KIHUEN: Well, I mean, I certainly hope that, you know, the president shows some compassion, some sympathy for these families who are suffering right now. Today is not a day for politics. Today is not a day for Republicans or Democrats. Today's not a day to, you know, attack each other. Today is a day for our country to come together, pray for these victims and lend as much support as possible to our local and federal law enforcement to make sure that they have everything they need. You know, I know right now here in Las Vegas, there's many other victims who have not been identified because they didn't have I.D.'s. You know, if anybody's listening and they're looking for one of their family members or a loved one, they can call 1-866-535-5654. And I repeat, it's 1-866-535-5654. And they will help you identify your loved one.

GREENE: We appreciate you giving that number to our listeners who might be in your part of the country. Democratic Congressman Ruben Kihuen represents a district that includes some of the city of Las Vegas. Thanks your time, Congressman.

KIHUEN: Thank you so much.

GREENE: And I want to turn now to NPR's Leila Fadel who is on the line from Las Vegas. Leila, you've been following this all morning. What does that city feel like right now?

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Well, it's a city that has just dealt with a major tragedy overnight. And many people are just waking up to realize what happened in their city right now. It's early morning here in Las Vegas. So it feels tragic.

GREENE: And what do we know - I know it's not a lot - but about the shooter here and what might have motivated this?

FADEL: At this point, we don't know what motivated the shooter who's been identified as Stephen Paddock. Actually, his brother gave an interview to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and expressed total shock that his brother, a 64-year-old man, was involved in this shooting into a crowd of some 22,000 people and killing so many.

GREENE: And I guess a lot of the questions now focusing on what investigators will find - we're told that they found him dead in his hotel room. And what else do we know about what was there or what investigators do know right now?

FADEL: That's right. He was found in his hotel room dead from a - apparently a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Inside that hotel room, there were several firearms upwards of 10 rifles. Police are currently searching his residence in Mesquite, Nev., to see what they'll find there. They're searching through there looking for - also for firearms and other types of evidence. They were also looking for an associate of his who they thought might have been involved but are now saying that she is actually not involved. And she's out of the country. And he'd actually been using some of her identification and that's why - it was why they thought she might have been involved. She is not involved. They still believe that this shooter acted on his own yesterday night, opening fire into this crowd.

GREENE: All right. That's NPR's Leila Fadel in Las Vegas. Leila, thanks.

FADEL: Thank you.

GREENE: And again, the crowd she's talking about - they were - we're told 22,000 people who were there near Mandalay Bay near the Strip, outdoors at a country music festival. And we're told by police that 50 people, more than 50 people, have been killed. We're told that 400, more than 400, were taken to hospitals. And we're going to be following this story all morning. We are awaiting President Trump within minutes who is supposed to be making a statement about this shooting last night in Las Vegas. And we'll be following this story throughout the day. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.