The attacker who opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas has been identified as Stephen Paddock. There has been no information about his motive yet.

People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was heard on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was heard on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AFP)

A 64-year-old man armed with more than 10 rifles rained down gunfire on a Las Vegas country music festival on Sunday, slaughtering at least 59 people in the largest mass shooting in US history before killing himself.

The barrage from a 32nd-floor window in the Mandalay Bay hotel into a crowd of 22,000 people lasted several minutes, causing panic. Some fleeing fans trampled each other as police scrambled to find the gunman. More than 500 people were injured.

On Monday, police identified the gunman as Stephen Paddock, who lived in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada, and said they did not know why he attacked the concertgoers.

The preliminary death toll, which officials said could rise, eclipsed last year's massacre of 49 people at an Orlando nightclub.

TRT World's Harry Horton has this report.

Shocked concertgoers, some with blood on their clothing, wandered streets, where the flashing lights of the city's gaudy casinos blended with those of emergency vehicles.

Police said they had no information about Paddock's motive, that he had no criminal record and was not believed to be connected to any militant group. Paddock killed himself before police entered the hotel room he was firing from, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters.

"We have no idea what his belief system was," Lombardo said. "I can't get into the mind of a psychopath."

Weapons Cache

Lombardo said there were more than 10 rifles in the room where Paddock killed himself. His arsenal included one or more machine guns, according to a law enforcement official.

US law prohibits possession of newly manufactured machine guns but allows the transfer of the weapons owned before May 1986 if approved by the government.

Police found several more weapons at Paddock's home in Mesquite, about 90 miles (145 km) northeast of Las Vegas, Mesquite police spokesman Quinn Averett told reporters.

The dead in Las Vegas included one off-duty police officer, Lombardo said.

"He brutally murdered more than 50 people and wounded hundreds more. It was an act of pure evil," US President Donald Trump said in a White House address. He ordered flags lowered to half-staff in a national gesture of mourning and said he would visit Las Vegas on Wednesday.

Trump planned to lead a moment of silence to mourn the dead at the White House at 2:45 pm ET (18:45 GMT).

Despite an outcry from some lawmakers about the pervasiveness of guns in the United States, the massacre, like previous mass shootings, was unlikely to prompt action in Congress.

Nevada has some of the most permissive gun laws in the United States. It does not require firearm owners to obtain licenses or register their guns.

The Second Amendment of the US Constitution protects the right to bear arms, and gun-rights advocates staunchly defend that provision. US President Donald Trump, a Republican, has been outspoken about his support of the Second Amendment.

"It's time for Congress to get off its ass and do something," said US Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, where 26 children and educators were killed in an attack on a school in 2012.

Former US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt, also gave a joint statement with her husband calling for more gun controls.

Efforts to pass federal legislation after that attack failed. Gun rights advocates argued that restrictions on legal gun sales would leave law-abiding citizens more vulnerable to attacks by criminals.

TRT World spoke to correspondent Harry Horton, who said the latest massacre has left President Trump with some points he needs to address.

'Just kept going on'

Video of the attack showed panicked crowds fleeing as sustained rapid gunfire ripped through the area.

"People were just dropping to the ground. It just kept going on," said Steve Smith, a 45-year-old visitor from Phoenix, Arizona. He said the gunfire went on for an extended period of time.

"Probably 100 shots at a time," Smith said. "It would sound like it was reloading and then it would go again."

Las Vegas's casinos, nightclubs and shopping draw some 3.5 million visitors from around the world each year and the area was packed with visitors when the shooting broke out shortly after 10 pm local time (04:00 GMT).

Shares of MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay Bay, fell almost 5 percent on Monday.

Mike McGarry, a financial adviser from Philadelphia, was at the concert when he heard hundreds of shots ring out.

"It was crazy - I laid on top of the kids. They're 20. I'm 53. I lived a good life," McGarry said. The back of his shirt bore footmarks, after people ran over him in the panicked crowd.

The shooting broke out on the final night of the three-day Route 91 Harvest festival, a sold-out event featuring top acts such as Eric Church, Sam Hunt and Jason Aldean.

The suspected shooter's brother, Eric Paddock, said the family was stunned by the news.

"We have no idea. We're horrified. We're bewildered and our condolences go out to the victims," Eric Paddock said in a phone interview, his voice trembling. "We have no idea in the world."

Settling into retirement

At first glance, it seemed Stephen Paddock, 64, was set for a quiet life in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada, where he had bought a new home in 2015 near his beloved casinos.

From there, it was only an hour's drive to Las Vegas, where he embarked on the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history before killing himself on Sunday.

His brother, Eric Paddock, said he was a peaceful man who moved back to the red desert hills of Nevada partly because gambling is legal in the state and he loathed Central Florida's humidity.

"He was a wealthy guy and he liked to play video poker and he liked to go on cruises," Paddock said from his doorstep in Orlando, Florida. "He's never drawn his gun, it makes no sense." His brother had a couple of handguns he kept in a safe, perhaps a long rifle, "but no automatic weapons."

The two were last in touch last month, texting about power outages after Hurricane Irma slammed into Florida.

"He had nothing to do with any political organization and religious organizations" as far as he was aware, Eric Paddock said.

Their father was Patrick Benjamin Paddock, a violent bank robber who was on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Most Wanted list in the 1960s. The shooter himself had no criminal record beyond a traffic violation, police in Las Vegas said.

"We didn't know him," Eric Paddock said of their father.

In recent weeks, Paddock made gambling transactions worth tens of thousands of dollars, though it was unclear whether they were wins or losses, NBC News reported, citing unnamed law enforcement officials.

'Nothing out of the ordinary'

Public records point to an itinerant existence across the American West and Southeast: A few years in California, a few years in other parts of Nevada.

Paddock had a hunting license in Texas, where he lived for a while. He got his pilot license, and had at least one single-engine aircraft registered in his name.

In early 2015, he bought a modest two-story home in a new housing development for retirees on the dusty edge of Mesquite, a small desert town popular with golfers and gamblers that straddles Nevada's border with Arizona.

"It's a nice, clean home and nothing out of the ordinary," Quinn Averett, a Mesquite police department spokesman, told reporters on Monday. Some guns and ammunition were found inside, though nothing remarkable in a region where gun ownership is high.

Before moving to Mesquite, Nevada, he lived in another town called Mesquite in Texas, where he worked as the manager of an apartment complex called Central Park.

Records as recent as 2015 list Paddock as single, though it appears he may have married while living in California in the 1980s. Police and public records said he lived with Marilou Danley in the Nevada retirement community. Police said she had no connection with the attack.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies