Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Las Vegas Shooting
50 Dead After Gunman Opens Fire on Concert Crowd
Islamic State has claimed reponsibility for the deadliest mass shooting in US history. Police in Las Vegas, Nevada say a man opened fire on a country music concert late Sunday, killing at least 50 people and wounding more than 400 others.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police identified the shooter as 64-year-old white male Stephen Paddock from Mesquite, Nevada. The gunman attacked the crowd of over 22,000 from his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino, located across the street from the outdoor venue where videos showed concertgoers ducking for cover, screaming and running as the repeated shots rang out.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said SWAT officers breached the shooter’s hotel room and found him dead. He said it is believed that Paddock killed himself. Police also found at least 10 rifles in his room.
Islamic State Claim Paddock Converted to Islam
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the gunman was one of its “soldiers” and converted to Islam months ago, but did not provide any evidence. U.S. intelligence officials say they are aware of and tracking the claim.
“We don’t know what his belief system was at this time,” the sheriff said, adding that Paddock was not believed to be connected to any militant group.
According to Islamic State’s ‘news’ agency Amaq:
The Las Vegas attacker is a soldier of the Islamic State in response to calls to target coalition countries.
Search for Woman Linked to Shooter
Authorities had also searched for a woman described as Paddock’s roommate in order to get more information, but in a later statement said she was no longer a person of interest, and that Paddock was the “lone suspect”.
One off-duty police officer was among those killed, and another two on-duty officers were injured, Las Vegas Metropolitan police said in a statement.
As the situation at the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert unfolded, people sought safety in the many hotels that line the popular tourist district. The Las Vegas international airport is also in the area, and flights there were temporarily halted because of the shooting.
The US Department of Homeland Security has said that there is “no information to indicate a specific credible threat involving other public venues in the country”, but that additional security may be seen at events and public places.
Jason Aldean Onstage During Shooting
Country star Jason Aldean was on stage playing at the time of the shooting. Hours later he described it as “horrific.” Writing on Instagram, he said:
I still don’t know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that me and my crew are safe. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night.