“You always read about shootings and hear about it in the news, but you never think it will happen to you, in your home, in your own backyard,” Las Vegas native Melanie Dunn (21C) said.
In the deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history, at least 59 people were killed and 527 injured in Las Vegas, Sunday night, after a gunman opened fire on a music festival crowd from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, according to The New York Times.
The gunman, Stephen Paddock, fired on a crowd of thousands of people from the 32nd floor of the hotel, several hundred feet southwest of the concert grounds, according to the Times. Country music singer Jason Aldean was performing when the gunshots began, and the shots lasted for 10 to 15 minutes, according to the Times. Armed with at least 23 firearms, police found Paddock dead in his hotel room, the Times reported.
Dunn had previously attended the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival and knew attendees of this year’s event, one of them being her best friend.
“When gunfire sounded, everyone rushed toward the …. exit, which meant a lot of people were trampled,” Dunn said. “Bullets were ricocheting off the cement; many people had shrapnel in their lower bodies.”
Vegas is a small community, Dunn said. Some Emory students, such as Logan van Reken (21C), knew concertgoers who were injured in the attack. Two students from van Reken’s high school were shot.
“One of them didn’t have to get surgery — the bullet went straight through her,” van Reken said. “Her twin sister was shot in the back and in the leg, and she suffered a punctured lung. She had to undergo surgery.”
Van Reken said she was at first confused and horrified by the news and immediately called her mom. Similarly, Dunn said two high school seniors she knew were hospitalized because they were shot.
President Donald J. Trump called the shooting “an act of pure evil,” but he also issued words of optimism in face of the tragedy.
“[America’s] unity cannot be shattered by evil, our bonds cannot be broken by violence, and though we feel such great anger, at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today. And always will,” Trump said in a Monday morning speech.
Vegas native Quinn Iriye (21C) said she woke up to the news of the shooting and immediately thought, “Is everyone that I know OK?’”
“It’s weird when you see things like #PrayForParis, you never think it’ll happen in your hometown,” Iriye said. “This is a problem, and … we need to find a way to stop it.”
Both Dunn and van Reken said that the Emory community was supportive in wake of the tragedy.
“[Student Programming Council] SPC reached out for recommendations on events for Las Vegas, such as a candlelight vigil or any fundraising ideas,” van Reken said.
Vegas native Mackienzy Kahl’s (21C) said his mind raced to his uncle, who often works shows at the Mandalay Bay.
Kahl said he received an outpouring of support from the community.
“It’s amazing to be in a community where people know your home town and come together to support you,” Kahl said. “My RA, hall director, floormates and friends all reached out to me.”
Student Government Association (SGA) is hosting a vigil for Las Vegas Wednesday at 9 p.m. on Cox Bridge, according flyers posted across campus.
The SGA Committee on Diversity and Equity emailed a statement to all students Oct. 3 highlighting resources available to the Emory community including the Student Intervention Services (SIS) team and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).
“In a society where mass shootings have become desensitized, we ask that you continue to reflect on the gravity of the situation,” the statement read. “We realize that this is a grave tragedy and hope that we can all come together in support of those affected.”
Young Democrats of Emory wrote in an Oct. 2 Facebook post that the best way to honor those injured and killed in the Vegas shooting is stricter gun control.
“More guns in the ‘right hands’ won’t save people,” the group wrote.
The GoFundMe page started by Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak, “Las Vegas Victims’ Fund,” has raised more than $3.9 million as of Tuesday evening.
Dunn urged people to donate whatever they could to the effort, even if by voicing support.