On Oct. 1, a mass shooting occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. It has been declared as the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, with 59 people dead and 527 people injured. The shooter has been identified as Stephen Paddock, who shot from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. In his hotel suite alone, he had 23 guns. After shooting at the crowd, Paddock killed himself. One of the weapons he used was an AK-47 type rifle, equipped with a stand used for steady mass firing.
Paddock was not a suspected mass murderer. His record was clean with no ties to any extremist groups. There was no clear motive to identify why Paddock caused this horrific event. The ambiguity of Paddock’s motives is one of the most puzzling aspects of the mass murder. CNN states that in most cases, after 24 hours, the police are aware of motives behind a mass shooting. But in this case, CNN asserted that it seemed like Paddock specifically concealed his motives. However, Paddock showed some telling quirks in his personality in the past. In 2013, he filed a civil lawsuit against the Cosmopolitan hotel after he slipped and fell in the hotel. During his testimony for this lawsuit, he stated that he “gambled $1 million in a single night.” Clearly, Paddock was interested in gambling.
His other identified interest was weaponry, as he had been purchasing guns for 20 years before the event. In Oct. 2016 alone he purchased 33 firearms, mainly rifles. But when purchasing these guns, he passed all background checks and raised no red flags with authorities. No mental instabilities or unfit traits were discovered in the procedures.
Before the shooting occurred, Paddock checked into the Mandalay Bay hotel with a dozen firearms in 10 suitcases. He also gambled in the night leading up to the event.
This event has sparked debates on many fronts, most specifically regarding the political conversation around gun control. But the effects of this event transcend politics. In the Pinewood community, the students felt the weight of the event. Senior Keenan Peery explained his feelings about the event and how it affected the atmosphere at school.
“As a whole, the community was in shock. When things like this happen, we react with grief. But overall, I wasn’t surprised or thrown off at this point, based off of how society is. I almost expect these kinds of things. It’s incredibly upsetting and it’s a tragedy,” said Peery.
In some cases, the shooting affected some in the Pinewood community directly. Office manager Joan Eble had a personal connection to the tragedy. Her daughter attended the music festival where the shooting occurred, but was fortunately unharmed. Regardless, the emotional strain placed on both Eble and her family is palpable.
“I think when these kinds of things happen, you think the event only affects the people that were there. There were 22,000 people, and each one of those people has family behind them. It is traumatizing for all of those people. My daughter still can’t talk about it, and this event will affect her the rest of her life. She can’t go to concerts or incredibly public places because she has panic attacks. This affects the whole family because we hate to see her feel like that,” Eble said.
The Pinewood community has stepped up to create a supportive system for Eble in the wake of this traumatic experience.
“We have a great Pinewood community, and everyone has been incredibly supportive. Luckily, my daughter has a strong support group where she lives as well,” Eble said.