#VegasShooting: the facts, people affected and ways to help

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Dani Jardine
A flag on the BYU campus was flown at half-mast on Oct. 2 to honor the victims of the Vegas shooting. (Dani Jardine)

A lone gunman killed 59 people while tens of thousands of concertgoers ran for their lives in terror Sunday night. Authorities say over 500 people were taken to the hospital on Monday after what was called the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The gunman was located on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas casino and unleashed a deadly torrent of bullets on a Jason Aldean country music concert below. More than 22,000 people were in attendance when the shooting started.

Kodiak Yazzie, 36, witnessed the bloodshed firsthand.

“It was the craziest stuff I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” Yazzie said. “You could hear that the noise was coming from west of us, from Mandalay Bay. You could see a flash, flash, flash, flash,” Yazzie told the Associated Press.

The first round of shots caused the performers to stop playing, and the crowed fell quiet, unsure of what had happened. Yazzie said the music started up gain for a moment before the next round of shots sent people running for cover. Some victims fell to the ground while others hid under parked cars.

SWAT teams stormed the gunman’s room to find he had killed himself after the shooting. Authorities say he had as many as 10 guns with him, including rifles. The gunman was identified as Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada. Authorities said he checked into the room on Thursday.

Local hospitals soon filled with victims. Roads, highways, and even airports were all shut down or delayed as the city erupted in panic.

“It’s a devastating time,” Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told the Associated Press.

Lombardo said authorities believe this was a “lone wolf” attack. The U.S. Homeland Security Department said there was no “specific credible threat” involving other public venues in the U.S.

Hours after the shooting, Aldean posted on Instagram that the shooting was “beyond horrific,” but that he and his crew were safe.

“It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night,” Aldean said.

President Donald Trump expressed his condolences in a tweet: “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!”

During an address from the White House Monday afternoon, Trump said he would be visiting Las Vegas on Wednesday. He and his wife, first lady Melania Trump, lead a moment of silence to honor victims of the mass shooting.

Although the shooting happened in Las Vegas, the devastation has still been felt here in Utah.

Provo resident and UVU student Aly Hardy had close friends who were victims of the shooting.

“There’s been a lot of prayer groups, going on and so many people are going down and donating blood. My mom said that the whole community is gathering together to lift each other up and help out those victims that are in the hospitals that have yet to be treated in a hospital,” Hardy said.

She included more information in a Facebook post Monday morning:

“Please please pray for Vegas at this time. That is the place I call home. My sweet friend was shot in the arm and is now in stable condition, but their amazing mother was shot in the chest and is in critical condition… We love you guys. You do not stand alone.”

Hardy identified her friend who was shot in the arm as Las Vegas resident Paige Melanson. Melanson and her sister own a dance studio in Las Vegas. Following the tragedy, they closed the studio until further notice. Friends of the sisters hosted a group prayer for those affected by the accident on Monday.

LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins expressed the LDS Church’s sincere feelings on the event.

“To all of those affected by the horrific events in Las Vegas, we offer our deepest condolences and heartfelt prayers. We pray for those who are mourning the loss of loved ones, and for those who are seeking to recover from the physical and emotional wounds they are suffering. May God bless them with the peace and comfort only He can provide in such tragic and heartbreaking moments,” Hawkins said.

Former BYU student Laura Larkin lives in Las Vegas just 15 miles away from where the shooting took place.

“My heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones and all those who were injured in this terrible incident. I am praying that everyone who has been affected by this terrible tragedy will find peace. I am grateful for the police and community leaders who are handling this situation so efficiently and effectively,” Larkin said.

As of Monday afternoon around 3 p.m. United Blood Services said the blood needs for victims have been met. However, they encourage people to donate blood over the following weeks.

Josh Frame, a team supervisor at the American Red Cross, confirmed that should the need in Las Vegas exceed the amount of blood held in reserve, it will need to be transported from surrounding areas.

Due to the likely increase of donations, those seeking to help are advised to make an appointment beforehand to help things go smoother.

BYU students wanting to donate blood can attend the Y-Serve Fall Blood drive in the WSC on Oct. 3—4 from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The blood drive will be in room 3228 of the Wilkinson Student Center on Tuesday, and in the Garden Court on Wednesday.

Monetary donations can be made to the American Red Cross. Other online pages have been created to receive monetary donations, such as this one by Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak.

Information about missing loved ones can be found by calling 866-535-5654.

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