Fear grips Vegas strip; toll rises to 59

IS claims responsibility, does not provide evidence
Report by: 
Agencies
Las Vegas/Cairo
3 Oct 2017

The rapid-fire popping sounded like firecrackers at first, and many in the crowd of 22,000 country music fans didn't understand what was happening when the band stopped playing and singer Jason Aldean hustled off stage.

"That's gunshots," a man could be heard saying emphatically on a cellphone video in the nearly half-minute of silence and confusion that followed. A woman pleaded with others: "Get down! Get down! Stay down!" Then the pop-pop-pop noise resumed. And pure terror set in. "People start screaming and yelling and we start running," said Andrew Akiyoshi, who provided the cellphone video to The Associated Press. "You could feel the panic. You could feel like the bullets were flying above us. Everybody's ducking down, running low to the ground."

While some concertgoers hit the ground Sunday night, others pushed for the crowded exits, shoving through narrow gates and climbing over fences as 40- to 50-round bursts of fire rained down on them from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino hotel. By Monday afternoon, 59 victims were dead and 527 injured in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. Meanwhile, reports have surfaced that Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock's "regular companion" was an Australian woman who moved to the United States 20 years ago to work on the casino strip, the government confirmed today.

Marilou Danley, 62, was initially said to be a "person of interest" but has since been cleared of any involvement in the shocking shooting that left 59 dead and more than 500 injured. Meanwhile, without providing any evidence to support the claim, the Islamic State group has said the gunman in the mass shooting in Las Vegas was "a soldier" from its ranks who had converted to Islam months ago. Authorities have yet to identify a motive for the shooting, and said initially there was no evidence of any connection to international terrorism. The extremist group has a history of exaggerated or false claims, including earlier this year, when it claimed an attack on a casino in the Philippines that turned out to have been a botched robbery carried out by a heavily indebted gambling addict.