Pence stresses unity as police probe Las Vegas shooting

Policemen singing the national anthem with American football players at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas last Saturday night in honour of victims of the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
Policemen singing the national anthem with American football players at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas last Saturday night in honour of victims of the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LAS VEGAS • United States Vice-President Mike Pence visited Las Vegas last Saturday, stressing unity and offering solace as the police appealed to the public for help in uncovering a wealthy retiree's motive for killing 58 people at an outdoor concert earlier last week.

"We are united in our grief, in our support for those who have suffered and united in our resolve to end such evil in our time," Mr Pence said, joining Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and other local leaders at a City Hall commemoration for victims of the shooting.

Participants trod 11km along four separate paths to the event amid tight security. President Donald Trump had paid a visit to Las Vegas earlier last week.

Las Vegas' Democratic Congressman Dina Titus was the only speaker who touched on the subject of gun violence and politics, saying: "Let us also pray for those who have power that they will have the wisdom, the courage and the resolve to find ways to end the gun violence that plagues our nation."

The commemoration came as Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said investigators remain largely in the dark about what drove retired real estate investor and high-stakes gambler Stephen Paddock to carry out the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

"We have looked at everything, literally, to include the suspect's personal life, any political affiliation, his social behaviours, economic situation, any potential radicalisation," Undersheriff McMahill said last Friday. "We have been down each and every single one of these paths, trying to determine why, to determine who else may have known of these plans."

He said investigators had uncovered "no nexus" between the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and Paddock, even though the militant group had repeatedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

A piece of paper found in Paddock's suite at the Mandalay Bay Hotel appeared to calculate the distance and height from his window to target victims below, the CBS News show 60 Minutes said last Saturday, ahead of a broadcast yesterday of interviews with Clark County Sheriff's officers, including one who said he saw the paper.

Investigators have stressed that no suicide note had been found.

In an unusual bid to cast a wider net for tips, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and police have arranged with communications company Clear Channel to post billboards around Las Vegas urging citizens to come forward with any information that might help.

The billboards will bear the slogan, "If you know something, say something", and carry a toll-free number to an FBI hot line.

Paddock, 64, unleashed a torrent of gunfire onto an outdoor music festival from the windows of his 32nd-floor hotel suite overlooking the concert on the night of Oct 1, then shot himself dead before police stormed the room. In addition to the 58 people who died, nearly 500 were injured.

Paddock left behind no suicide note, no manifesto, no recordings and no messages on social media pointing to his intent, said police.

In a new disclosure, the authorities said two bullets Paddock fired struck a large jet fuel storage tank at the edge of the city's main airport, about a block from the concert grounds, indicating an apparent attempt by the gunman to create even greater havoc.

There was no explosion or fire from the two rounds, one of which penetrated the tank, as jet fuel in storage is almost impossible to ignite with gunshots, airport officials said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2017, with the headline 'Pence stresses unity as police probe Las Vegas shooting'. Print Edition | Subscribe