Pence praises US re­solve to find hope af­ter hor­ror

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, ac­com­pa­nied his wife, Karen, speaks in Las Ve­gas, fol­low­ing a unity prayer walk hon­or­ing the vic­tims of last week­end’s mas­sacre.

LAS VE­GAS — Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence praised the heroic re­sponse by po­lice and the re­solve of the Amer­i­can peo­ple at a prayer ser­vice in Las Ve­gas, while fed­eral agents hauled away be­long­ings left be­hind by ter­ri­fied con­cert­go­ers try­ing to es­cape rain­ing bul­lets from a gun­man who was shoot­ing from his high-rise ho­tel suite.

“It was a tragedy of unimag­in­able pro­por­tions,” Pence said as he ad­dressed nearly 300 peo­ple at Las Ve­gas City Hall Satur­day af­ter­noon. “Those we lost were taken be­fore their time, but their names and their sto­ries will for­ever be etched into the hearts of the Amer­i­can peo­ple.”

At the same time, fed­eral agents started re­mov­ing piles of back­packs, baby strollers and lawn chairs still strewn about the site of a coun­try mu­sic fes­ti­val that Stephen Pad­dock fired upon last Sun­day night. In­ves­ti­ga­tors re­main stumped about why the reclu­sive 64- year- old high- stakes video poker player would shoot at the crowd from his 32nd-floor Man­dalay Bay ho­tel room, killing 58 and wound­ing hun­dreds be­fore killing him­self.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve a note found on a night­stand in Pad­dock’s ho­tel room con­tained a se­ries of num­bers that helped him cal­cu­late a more pre­cise aim, ac­count­ing for the tra­jec­tory of shots be­ing fired from that height and the dis­tance be­tween his room and the con­cert, a law en­force­ment of­fi­cial said Satur­day. The of­fi­cial wasn’t au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the de­tails of the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion pub­licly and spoke to The As­so­ci­ated Press on con­di­tion of anonymity.

The unity ser­vice came af­ter dozens of peo­ple — many wear­ing shirts that said “Ve­gas Strong” — marched from Man­dalay Bay to City Hall. Af­ter speeches from Pence and other politi­cians, 58 doves were re­leased into the air, fly­ing in a wide arc and then dis­ap­pear­ing into the dis­tance as some­one shouted, “God bless Amer­ica!”

Las Ve­gas Mayor Carolyn Good­man told the au­di­ence that the fo­cus needs to re­main on the vic­tims, not “that hor­rific sense­less an­i­mal.”

Lisa Rhoads- Shook, whose brother-in-law was in­side the Man­dalay Bay when the shoot­ing broke out, said she wanted to at­tend the unity ser­vice to be part of the con­ver­sa­tion about change.

“I’m so sad and it’s not fair, re­ally, for us to ex­pe­ri­ence an­other avoid­able tragedy. We have to ac­knowl­edge that there is no bet­ter time to talk about gun con­trol,” she said. “I don’t think the Found­ing Fa­thers wanted the right to bear arms to be­come the right to build an ar­se­nal in your home.”

I nves­ti­ga­tors have chased 1,000 leads and ex­am­ined Pad­dock’s pol­i­tics, fi­nances, any pos­si­ble rad­i­cal­iza­tion and his so­cial be­hav­ior — typ­i­cal in­ves­tiga­tive av­enues that have helped un­cover the mo­tive in past shoot­ings. But Clark County Un­der­sh­er­iff Kevin McMahill said there’s still no clear mo­tive.

What of­fi­cers have found is that Pad­dock planned his at­tack metic­u­lously.

He re­quested an up­per­floor room over­look­ing the fes­ti­val, stock­piled 23 guns, a dozen of them mod­i­fied to fire con­tin­u­ously like an au­to­matic weapon, and set up cam­eras in­side and out­side his room to watch for ap­proach­ing of­fi­cers.

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