Las Vegas still in shock as community deals with aftermath

Crisis centres set up by Mandalay Bay Hotel owners MGM as 12 remain critical in hospital

Mourners at a candlelight vigil at the University of Nevada Las Vegas  for the victims of Sunday night’s massacre in Las Vegas, in which 59 people were killed and more than 500 injured.  Photograph: Eugene Garcia/EPA

Mourners at a candlelight vigil at the University of Nevada Las Vegas for the victims of Sunday night’s massacre in Las Vegas, in which 59 people were killed and more than 500 injured. Photograph: Eugene Garcia/EPA

 

Anthony Luca was one of the lucky ones. The 30-year-old Las Vegas native was watching country music star Jason Aldean take the stage at the Harvest 91 music festival when he heard the shots ring out. “The first couple of shots were like teaser shots, and then the shooting started. I saw people getting hit near the front right hand of the stage go down. Everyone started screaming and running.”

He and his friends ran into one of the Coca-Cola VIP suites in the venue and lay on the ground, listening to bullets hitting the sides of the metal building. “I said to my friend, ‘We’ve got to keep moving,’” he recalls. They ran towards the exit and hit a fence where some people were climbing, clambering to get out, he says. “All of a sudden, there were hundreds of people, and the fence just toppled over. Then it was like letting cattle out. Everyone was running like crazy, thousands of people – they would run five or 10 yards and then take cover behind a car or a bollard. I’d never heard a gun like that before, it just kept going and going.”

Though Luca is lucky to be alive, many were not so fortunate.

Las Vegas’s University Medical Center is the only hospital with a level-one trauma centre in the state, meaning that it has a full team of surgeons and trauma nurses on site at all times. It admitted most of the dying and injured on Sunday night as they fled to emergency centres from the concert venue. Some of the wounded arrived in private vehicles having been helped by passersby who found themselves caught up in the chaos.

By Tuesday at least 12 people remained in a critical condition in the hospital. 

Life-altering injuries

While many of the victims of Sunday night’s gun rampage are likely to be left with life-altering injuries, the psychological scars left by the Mandalay Bay attack will also take time to heal.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing people being shot and falling in front of them as they desperately tried to escape the chaos on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday.

MGM, the entertainment group which owns the Mandalay Bay Hotel and the venue where the country music festival took place, set up crisis centres in its hotels across the city, offering counselling to guests and staff who were affected by the events.

Anthony Luca: “Everyone was running like crazy, thousands of people – they would run five or 10 yards and then take cover behind a car or a bollard.”
Anthony Luca: “Everyone was running like crazy, thousands of people – they would run five or 10 yards and then take cover behind a car or a bollard.”

The University of Nevada and the Clark County School District put on extra counselling support services for students who may have been affected by the attacks.

Across the community, people were trying to make sense of a tragedy that transformed Las Vegas, the symbol of American fun and joie de vivre, into a crime scene.

The fact that it was an American citizen with no known links to international terrorism was in ways particularly alarming. As Patrick Hughes, a Dublin man who runs the Fremont pedestrian area in the city, pointed out, the possibility of a terrorist threat was always to the forefront of many people’s minds in Las Vegas.

Visitor safety

Islamic State had previously threatened to target the Las Vegas strip in propaganda videos. As someone with responsibility for visitor safety, he was well aware of the potential risks – earlier this year he arranged for bollards to be placed at the entrance to Fremont Street to guard against any risk from a vehicle attack.

As people tried to come to terms with an attack by one of their own, hundreds of people gathered outside Las Vegas City Hall on Monday night to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the Mandalay Bay shooting and to give each other solace.

One Muslim man, a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, the oldest Muslim society in the United States, was among those in attendance, holding a banner that read: “Love for all. Hatred for None.” He travelled from Wisconsin to show his solidarity with those who had been affected by the tragedy. 

“We’re here to offer solidarity and support to our fellow Americans. There are many different ways to respond, but choosing to stand in support of our fellow Americans is one of those ways,” he said , over the music and song that emanated from the gathering. “The loss of life is something we should all stand against.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.