Americans were still trying to understand Tuesday why a mysterious retiree, equipped with multiple assault rifles, strafed the thousands of spectators of an outdoor concert in Las Vegas on Sunday night, authorities rejecting a claim of the Islamic state group.
The death toll increased to 59 dead and 527 injured, setting a record disaster. Besides those hit by bullets or bullets, many injured themselves in their flight.
The US media began to talk about the identity of victims from all walks of life: a California teacher, a Tennessee nurse, a New Mexico secretary, and so on.
Perched on a high floor of a hotel overlooking the concert, the shooter was a 64-year-old white American, Stephen Craig Paddock, a wealthy retired accountant accustomed to casinos. He committed suicide before the police reached him.
He had prepared himself thoroughly. The police found 23 weapons of different calibres, including assault rifles, in his room, presumably transported in more than 10 suitcases, according to city sheriff Joseph Lombardo.
Some rifles were equipped with glasses. His vehicle contained ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that can be used to make explosives.
At his home in Mesquite, about 120 km from Las Vegas, an arsenal of 19 additional weapons, thousands of ammunition and explosives was discovered.
The FBI has rejected the trail of a jihadist attack, faced with a claim by the Islamic state organization that called the shooter “soldier”, converted a few months ago to Islam and named in their statement “Abu Abdelberr American. ”
“We have not established any links at this point with an international terrorist group,” said federal police special agent Aaron Rouse.
“Bodies on the ground”
The balance sheet exceeds that of the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where in June 2016, 49 people died under the bullets of a man who declared his allegiance to the IE.
On Monday, President Donald Trump, speaking in a serious tone, did not discuss the issue of firearms or terrorism.
“Our unity can not be broken by evil, our ties can not be defeated by violence, and although we feel anger at the insane assassination of our compatriots, it is love that defines us today, “he said soberly.
Donald Trump is expected Wednesday in Las Vegas.
A minute of silence was observed Monday at the White House, where the flags had been lowered at half-mast, as in Congress. As a sign of solidarity, the Empire State Building has been extinguished, as well as the Eiffel Tower and vigils of solidarity with the victims have instead in different places.
Stephen Paddock had settled with his arsenal on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, a massive facility with a clear view of the country music festival “Route 91 Harvest”, on the other side of the famous Las Vegas Boulevard.
More than 22,000 spectators listened to the singer Jason Aldean, when at 22:08 (local time), the first shots rang.
Long gusts are audible in the countless videos broadcast on social networks. People try to escape to cover themselves. Others lie down on their stomachs or protect their loved ones from their bodies.
“We did not know where the shots came from, so we ran without knowing where to go,” Ralph Rodriguez, a computer consultant from Los Angeles for the festival told AFP.
Joanice Green was staying at the Hotel Luxor, overlooking the concert. She also heard the gusts, thinking initially that it was fireworks. “Silence has fallen. And then there was a new burst (…) and I said “oh no, these are shots,” she told AFP, wiping her tears.
Investigators do not favor any trail. They did not find any text or manifest, explained the sheriff, who described the man as “lone wolf”.
His brother, Eric Paddock, claimed that he was “rich”, “had no religious or political affiliation” and “was not at all an amateur of arms”.
Stephen Paddock had never dealt with the police, which was not the case with his father, Patrick Benjamin Paddock, a bank robber among the FBI’s most wanted fugitives in the 1960s.
The killer arrived in his suite, consisting of two rooms, on September 28, without the staff of the hotel noticing his arms. He broke the windows to be able to shoot better, leaving two dark holes in the gilded façade of the building.
According to the police, the man committed suicide before the intervention units blew up the door of his room before midnight.
The shooter’s companion, a 62-year-old Australian named Marilou Danley, was on Monday in Tokyo, according to the sheriff. The police sought to interrogate him.
The Democrats demanded that Congress finally act to restrict access to firearms. But the White House replied that this debate on weapons was “premature” at this preliminary stage of the investigations.