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 a few hundred people at the 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 read "Vegas Strong" — marched from Mandalay Bay to City Hall. After remarks from Pence and other politicians, 58 doves were released into the air, flying in a wide arc and then disappearing into the distance as a spectator 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.
Investigators 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; 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 upper-floor 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. Notes found in his room suggest that he used his knowledge of mathematics and geometry to calculate the trajectory of the rounds that he was firing.
Media outlets and investigators alike are baffled by such questions as motive, as well as why his Malaysian girlfriend, Marilous Danley, who had an Australian citizenship, had two American social security numbers and was married to two men.
Daesh has also claimed responsibility for the attack but so far no evidence has surfaced suggesting that Paddock, in his 60s, had converted to Islam or been radicalized. There also appears to be no links between his girlfriend and radicalization. Claims that Paddock was a deranged White Supremacist also don't add up, as his girlfriend was of Malaysian origin. Explosive materials, Ammonium Nitrate and Tannerite, were also found in the shooter's car, however their intended use remains publicly unknown.
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