It’s been a year since Jason McMillan was shot at the Route 91 Harvest Festival while shielding his girlfriend from the gunfire raining from a nearby high-rise. Since the shooting, the father of two got engaged, bought a home and got a puppy. (Sept. 27)
The marquees along the iconic Las Vegas Strip will go dark Monday night to mark the first anniversary of a gunman’s rampage that killed 58 people at an open-air country music festival.
The solemn event is one of several scheduled to mark the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history that saw more than 400 other people wounded by bullets fired from a high-rise hotel room. Hundreds more were injured while fleeing the chaotic scene.
“A lot of people have probably put it out of their minds,” said Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who led a fund drive that raised millions for victims. “The anniversary is going to bring up a lot of feelings, good and bad.”
Thousands of music fans were gathered on the Strip for the Route 91 Harvest Festival, listening to Jason Aldean wrapping up the night’s show. Stephen Paddock was holed up in a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino complex.
At 10:05 p.m. Paddock began firing down on the crowd. The next 10 minutes were a blur of fear and panic as victims tumbled while survivors scrambled to elude the onslaught.
The shooting stopped at 10:15. More than 1,000 rounds of ammunition had been fired. It would be more than an hour later that officers swarmed the room, finding Paddock dead on the floor of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, following a 10-month investigation, announced that authorities could not determine a motive for the carnage. The FBI is still trying to find one.
“A lot of the feeling among people is more, ‘Let’s move on,’” community activist Pauline Ng Lee said. “We don’t have a lot of long traditions here. You can see it with buildings. Casinos come up, casinos get knocked down. People tend to look forward, not back.”
But for now the city is looking back. The police department is hosting a sunrise remembrance ceremony Monday, and a few hours later a prayer vigil is set for City Hall. On Monday evening a new remembrance wall will be dedicated. Later, the Strip will go dark at 10:01 p.m., and other areas of the city are expected to turn out their lights as well.
At 10:05, a somber reading of the names of victims will take place at the Community Healing Garden, a memorial site downtown.
Gov. Brian Sandoval ordered flags across the state to fly at half staff on Monday.
“The people of Nevada will never forget this tragic day, and hold the victims of the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in their thoughts and prayers,” Sandoval said.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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