By Madeline Purdue and Karolina Rivas
Members of the Reno community gathered at the Reno City Plaza on Monday, Oct. 2, for a vigil in honor of the 59 people killed and more than 500 people injured during a mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday.
City council members and religious figures of the community spoke to the crowd in order to provide words of sympathy and condolences to those affected.
Nicholas Uy is from Las Vegas and attended the vigil to show his support of those affected.
“I have a mix of emotions about the tragedy that happened,” Uy said. “Really, I just want to show my support, however I can. Whether it’s donating blood or coming here, I just wanted to show my support to the families and victims. It really hits home for me, […] I’m just thankful that none of my friends and family were hurt but it’s just crazy.”
Organizers of the event included the Nevada Interfaith Coalition for Equality, NICE, and other community leaders.
“I think it’s important for us to come together to remember that we need to support each other,” Sean Savoy, Director and Founder of NiCE said. “This particular event has affected us in Nevada since our sister city in Las Vegas has been traumatized by this horrible occurrence that happened last night during that festival. It’s important for us to come together in peace and for us to come together in non-violence and it’s important for us to come together in the American way which is to gather despite our tragedies to look forward to a brighter tomorrow.”
The Nevada Gun Safety Coalition also attended the vigil to raise awareness to gun control in Nevada. Reno resident Greta Anderson feels strongly toward making a change to the legislation for the safety of others.
“I’m here tonight because I am so firm in believing that […] we cannot simply any longer say that we are sending out our thoughts and prayers to the victims and to those that have been left behind,” Anderson said. “Rather it is the time that we make critical changes in our legislation and to say that that is not politicizing the issue. […] When we talk about gun rights, what about human life rights. […] Let’s think what is humanitarian, humane and reasonable.”
After the speeches concluded, vigil candles were lit, and people joined together in singing the infamous Beatles song “Let It Be” together before holding a moment of silence.
Monday night the city of Reno honored those affected by having the downtown Reno arch sign go dark.
The attack began around 10:00 p.m. Sunday night when gunfire rained down on a sea of 22,000 concertgoers attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival, an annual three-day country concert held in Las Vegas.
Headlining performer Jason Aldean was about 20 minutes into his set when the gunfire started. Aldean was pulled off stage and people at the concert fled the scene or laid on the ground to avoid being shot.
“Every time we heard shots, we’d hit the ground and just stay there until they would stop for about 30 to 45 seconds,” said concertgoer Shelly Mallory to CNN. “And then we would run as fast as we could. … I thought the shooting would never end.”
The shooter—Stephen Paddock, a resident of Mesquite, Nevada—had busted the windows of his hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the 32nd floor and shot into the concert crowd across the street. Reports show that Paddock had checked into the hotel room on Thursday.
First responders entered Paddock’s hotel room about an hour after receiving initial reports of the shooting. Paddock turned the gun on himself and died of a self-inflicted wound.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Joe Lombardo briefed the media first around 12:45 a.m. Monday. Lombardo refused to release the name of the shooter. He confirmed that two people were dead and dozens were injured. However, that number grew as media briefings continued on Monday. As of print time, 59 people were confirmed dead and 527 people injured, making it the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is assisting with the investigation. Authorities found more than 30 weapons at Paddock’s hotel room and residences in Mesquite and Reno.
Cell phone footage distributed to different national media shows concertgoers carrying wounded people out of the concert venue and trying to find alternative ways to get to hospitals. The injured were brought to the University Medical Center, the only Level I trauma center in Las Vegas. As UMC filled, ambulances and patients were diverted to other hospitals in the valley.
The Las Vegas Strip was under lockdown for several hours after the shooting, leaving many visitors displaced and unable to access to their hotel rooms. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, opened the doors of their Thomas and Mack Center, which can hold up to 19,500 people. The last restriction on hotels was lifted around 7 a.m. and visitors at the Mandalay Bay were able to access their rooms.
LVMPD set up a hotline number where friends and family could call to try and locate missing loved ones. The number is 1-866-535-5654. LVMPD requests that people only call for information on missing people, not other information.
The country responded to the tragedy through social media, statements and press conferences.
President Marc Johnson sent a statement to the university on Monday offering his condolences to the students and faculty with connections to Las Vegas.
“Our campus has numerous connections with Las Vegas, from students who proudly call Las Vegas their home to colleagues, friends and alumni who live and work there. Our campus is deeply saddened by what has happened. Our condolences and prayers go out to all of the victims, their families and their friends,” said the statement.
Clark County declared a state of emergency on Monday in wake of the shooting.
UNR will host a vigil in front of the Joe Crowley Student Union on Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m.
Madeline Purdue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.