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58 killed and over 500 hospitalised in Las Vegas gun attack

The death toll makes it the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history.

Police officers stand at the scene of the shooting
Police officers stand at the scene of the shooting
Image: John Locher/PA

Updated at 4.50pm 

58 PEOPLE HAVE been killed and over 515 hospitalised following a mass shooting in Las Vegas.

The so-called Islamic State group has claimed responsibility, without providing evidence – although investigators say no link with international terror has been determined.

A gunman, who was on an upper floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, opened fire on a large crowd at an open-air music festival in the city shortly after 10pm local time (6am Irish time).

Police believe the gunman killed himself before he was confronted by police on the 32nd floor of the hotel.

The incident is believed to be the worst mass shooting in US history. Authorities confirmed shortly before 5pm Irish time that 515 people had been hospitalised following the attack.

The gunman has been named as Stephen Craig Paddock, 64-year-old man from the Mesquite area of rural Nevada. Police said they believe this was a ‘lone wolf’ attack.

Paddock checked into the hotel as a guest, and had been staying there since last Thursday.

At least ten guns were found in the 32nd floor hotel room from which the gunman opened fire at concertgoers.

He is not believed to have come to the attention of police for any reason in advance of this attack, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the mass shooting this afternoon, saying that the perpetrator was “a soldier” who had converted to Islam months ago, but without providing any evidence to support those claims.

It did not name the suspected shooter, but said he had “executed the operation in response to calls to target countries of the coalition” batting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

IS often claims attacks by individuals inspired by its message but with no known links to the group.

In the briefing shortly before 5pm, investigators said that that as yet no link with any international terrorist group had been determined.

Eric Paddock, a brother of the attacker, told reporters today that the gunman had no religious or political affiliation. He said he was at a loss to explain what had happened.

Authorities swarmed the Las Vegas strip after they received initial reports of an active shooter near the Route 91 Harvest country music festival.

Concert-goers reported seeing muzzle flashes from the upper floors of the hotel and the sound of what they described as automatic gun fire.

There was mass panic as concert-goers fled the scene of the attack. Videos from the incident show people running and cowering in fear as what sounds like machine gun fire is heard.

Las Vegas police confirmed this afternoon that an off-duty officer was killed during the attack. Two on-duty officers were also injured – one of whom has since been upgraded from critical to stable condition. The other officer sustained life-threatening wounds.

Clark County’s sheriff said officers confronted the suspect on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino across the street from the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival.

Police have determined that a woman they were seeking is no longer considered a “person of interest” in the investigation.

Officers say they don’t believe 62-year-old Marilou Danley was involved in the shooting, having initially said they were seeking the woman, and that she may have been the roommate of the shooter.

Las Vegas Shooting A police officer runs along a sidewalk near a shooting near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Source: John Locher/AP/Press Association Images

MGM Resorts International – which runs the hotel where the shooting took place – released a statement saying that its hotels would remain on lock down until further notice.

US president Donald Trump this morning expressed his condolences with the victims and families of the victims.

“My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!” the president tweeted.

‘People were running and crying’

Tipperary native Martin Fogarty – who has been living in the US for 11 years – is staying in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and was in the nearby MGM when the shooting broke out.

“I was heading back to the hotel when my boss called me saying, ‘I’m not trying to freak you out but you need to stay where you are’,” Fogarty told TheJournal.ie.

She said they were hearing what sounded like gunfire everywhere.

Fogarty left MGM and went into the Tropicana, where people were told to stay while the incident was ongoing.

“After a while people just started streaming in. They were running, they were crying. A couple of people had minor injuries,” he said.

Fogarty said that everyone was ordered to shelter in place at the hotel and that they were being moved down to a convention area.

He said regular announcements over the intercom were advising people to remain safe and that the hotel they were sheltering in was secure.

The Irish Consulate in the US said that it was aware of the situation and advised citizens to follow the directions of the police.

Foreign Affairs Minister simon Coveney issued a statement condemning the attack and offering condolences to the families of the victims.

“I strongly condemn the attack at the route 91 Harvest country music festival,” Coveney said.

“This was a savage and brutal attack targeting innocent festival-goers.

I wish to express my heartfelt condolences and those of the Irish people to the families of the victims, those who were injured and to the people and the authorities of the United States on this tragic day.

Las Vegas Shooting Source: Chase Stevens/AP/Press Association Images

“Beyond horrific”

Country music star Jason Aldean – who was performing onstage when the shooting broke out – posted on Instagram following the incident.

“Tonight has been beyond horrific,” he said.

“I still don’t know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that Me and my Crew are safe.

My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night.

Multiple videos from the festival show large crowds fleeing the area following bursts of what sounds like rapid gunfire.

Tweet by @Natasha Fatah 🏹 Source: Natasha Fatah 🏹/Twitter

(If you can’t view the video click here)

Witnesses said they saw multiple victims and dozens of ambulances near the concert venue. Some attendees later huddled in the basement of the nearby Tropicana hotel-casino.

Officers carrying assault rifles ran into the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.

Authorities shut down part of the Las Vegas Strip and Interstate 15. Flights were temporarily halted at McCarran International Airport because of the shooting, the airport said on its verified Twitter account.

Home search 

Heavily armed police have been searching the Mesquite, Nevada retirement-community home of Stephen Paddock.

In an update this afternoon, local police said they had found guns and ammunition at the address, but said any further details of that find would be provided by the lead investigators at Las Vegas police.

A local officer who briefed media said there was “nothing out of the ordinary” about the home, and described it as a “regular neighbourhood”.

A number of neighbours were evacuated from their homes in advance of the planned search, he said.

Paddock had never come to the attention of police in the area for any reason, the officer told reporters.

Separately, Las Vegas police said this afternoon that the process of identifying all the injured and dead would take time, and asked the public for patience.

An appeal was also made for blood donations.

With reporting from Associated Press, Christine Bohan and Daragh Brophy. 

Read: Islamic State claim responsibility for Marseilles knife attack

Read: Two women accused of assassinating North Korean leader’s half brother plead not guilty at start of trial

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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