1 year after Las Vegas massacre, gunman’s motive a mystery

Rafael Sarabia of Nevada holds an American flag as he rides his horse Red Sonja outside the Las Vegas Village across from Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino as a tribute to those killed in last year’s massacre at the site on October 1, 2018. (AFP pic)

LAS VEGAS: Fifty-eight shot dead. More than 400 wounded. More than 1,100 rounds fired.

One year after a heavily armed gunman embarked on the deadliest mass shooting in US history, raining automatic weapons fire from a hotel window down onto a country music concert, Las Vegas is no closer to knowing why.

The desert gambling capital on Monday marked the first anniversary of the massacre with a solemn sunrise ceremony commemorating the victims.

A choir sang the national anthem, a bagpipe band played, and 58 white doves flew skyward as relatives of those killed, survivors, and members of the community gathered.

Mynda Smith, whose sister Neysa Tonks was killed at the concert, spoke at the event.

“Our hearts are continually overflowing as we watch random acts of kindness performed on behalf of our 58 angels. It helps us know that they will never be forgotten and that their legacy will continue to carry on,” she said.

In Washington, President Donald Trump marked the anniversary.

“All of America is grieving for the lives lost and for the families they left behind. So to all of those families and to the people of Las Vegas, we love you. We are with you,” Trump said

As part of a day-long commemoration, on Monday evening the bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip will go dark in a moment of silence for the victims.

Yet one year later investigators still don’t understand why 64-year-old investor and gambler Stephen Paddock decided to kill so many people.

At just after 10 pm on a balmy Sunday Paddock opened fire from the window of his 32nd floor room in the Mandalay Bay Hotel, targeting the 22,000-strong crowd below listening to country singer Jason Aldean.

The shooting went on for 10 minutes, sending the crowd into a panic. Besides those killed and wounded, some 400 others were injured in the attempt to flee.

When police finally entered Paddock’s hotel room, he had shot himself dead. They were stunned to see dozens of high-powered semi-automatic weapons, some modified with “bump stocks” to behave like machine guns, and more than 5,000 more rounds stockpiled.

Paddock left no message behind, and his family and girlfriend could not offer any explanation for what later evidence shown was long in the planning.

“Reference the 1,965 investigated leads, 21,560 hours of video, 251,099 images obtained and 746 legal notices filed or sent, nothing was found to indicate motive on the part of Paddock or that he acted with anyone else,” Las Vegas police concluded in their report earlier this year.

For many, it was a stunning display of the dangers of the United States’ loosely regulated market for firearms. Since then, the government has moved to ban bump stocks.

Trump said Monday that a ban will come within weeks. “We are knocking out bump stocks,” he said.