Still senseless: Las Vegas shooting haunts San Diego locals

Bodies still lay on Las Vegas Boulevard the day after the shooting, as seen from the 31st floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, a single floor below where Stephen Paddock killed and injured hundreds last month during the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Photo used with permission from Albert Garzon

Bodies still lay on Las Vegas Boulevard the day after the shooting, as seen from the 31st floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, a single floor below where Stephen Paddock killed and injured hundreds last month during the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Angelina Hicks, Copy Editor

He didn’t hear the gunfire right away.

Shortly after, he noticed two men dragging a girl — who had passed away just minutes before from a headshot wound — to a police vehicle.

“She had to be 18,” said Mark Medford, a southern California resident who survived the Las Vegas shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival last month. “Being a dad of a 16-year-old girl, I ran over, pissed off, and asked why they were dragging her. I picked her up and carried her, realizing she was shot in the head. Her blood was running down my arms, onto my clothes, and down my legs.

“I knew she was dead.”

Medford, who attended the music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada with his wife last month, expected the night to be full of fun and music. Unexpectedly, the night ended with the 49-year-old man carrying the deceased girl to a waiting police cruiser.

The assault is now considered the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in U.S. history with 58 people dead and 489 injured. The astounding casualties inflicted by Stephen Craig Paddock, a 64-year-old man staying in a hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, created havoc on the Las Vegas Strip when he rained bullets onto thousands of people from 10:05 to 10:15 p.m. on Oct. 1.

During their fourth consecutive experience at the three-day music festival, Medford and his wife were elected to upgrade their seating area on Sunday during the weekend-long event, Medford said.

However, their experience at the festival was vastly different than the previous three years they had attended. Bullets plummeted onto the concert crowd of approximately 22,000 during the last hour of the last night.

“[Me and my wife] noticed the commotion in the center of where everybody was standing in the middle of the audience,” Medford said. “People started running, and we didn’t know why. My first thought was somebody threw fireworks in the crowd. Then I saw people on the ground not moving. Then we heard the repetition of gunfire.”

Many people, including Medford, were confused as to where the shooter was firing his weapon. Everyone in attendance, blind-sided by the traumatic event, was thrown into a frenzy.

“Still in disbelief on what was happening, I really wasn’t scared until the bullets hit in front of me where I felt debris hitting me from the bullets,” Medford said. “[I heard] the bullets hitting the metal railing in front of me. [There was] a lot of screaming and yelling. I did not see any police officers, and I was curious why.

“I still didn’t know where the shooter was.”

Many people, heartbroken by the event, expressed sorrow towards all affected, including the event’s headliner, Jason Aldean.

“Tonight has been beyond horrific,” Aldean said via social media. “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.”

Aldean was performing the closing numbers of the event when the gunshots began.

Paddock, allegedly dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, was found in his hotel room an hour later, along with 23 firearms legally purchased from Nevada, California, Texas, and Utah.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to the injured and the deceased and their loved ones,” a representative of the Route 91 Harvest Festival said in a statement on its website. “Senseless violence has claimed the souls of our fans, and we have little in the way of answers.”

President Donald Trump referred to Paddock as “a very very sick individual” and “a demented man with a lot of problems” as he left the University Medical Center in Las Vegas days after the incident.

In a mere 10 minutes, Paddock killed dozens and injured hundreds, a feat some people claim was accomplished by the bump stocks he had equipped onto 12 of the semi-automatic weapons found in his hotel room, according to reports.

Bump stocks are gun accessories that fit over the stock and grip of a semi-automatic rifle, causing the weapon to fire continuously, contrary to the federal law that has banned automatic weapons since 1986.

However, the law banning automatic firearms specifies firearms that fire multiple rounds with a singular pull of the trigger. Bump stocks “bump” the shooter’s finger into the trigger, causing it to fire much more quickly than one could manage manually, but not classifying them as automatic weapons.

Because of this, bump stocks, a powerful and deadly gun accessory, are considered legal in the United States.

Although legal, bump stocks tend to be unpopular, as they cause the firearm to jerk about, losing accuracy in order to fire 400-800 rounds per minute.

“They’re dismissed as silly gadgets that really inhibit the accuracy of a firearm,” Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law and author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America told reporters. “If these bump stocks were super popular among gun owners, we’d see a very different position from the National Rifle Association.”

The legal use of bump stocks brings up a heavy question: will the effects of the Las Vegas attack change gun laws in the United States?

The answer is still up in the air, but many people are working toward a ban on bump stocks and similar devices, while other people believe gun law reforms are not necessary.

“They aren’t useful for self-defense, and they pose a tremendous hazard,” Winkler said in a recent interview. “We’ve effectively banned machine guns for decades, and the bump stocks are an obvious end-run around the law.”

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California proposed legislation that would ban the use of bump stocks.

“The only reason to modify a gun is to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible,” Sen. Feinstein told reporters.

Many of today’s prominent public figures have spoken out about the need for greater severity regarding current gun laws.

“When someone with a beard attacks us, we tap phones, we invoke travel bans, we build walls,” Jimmy Kimmel, the host of The Tonight Show, and Las Vegas native said. “But when an American buys a gun and kills other Americans then there’s nothing we can do about that [because of] the second amendment.

“Our forefathers wanted us to have AK-47s is the argument, I assume.”

In contrast, many Americans remain steadfast in their beliefs concerning gun laws.

“Overall, my opinion on guns is that they are harmless,” Medford said. “It is the people that are dangerous. Even if you took guns away, there will still be lunatics.”

To no one’s surprise, the NRA remains steadfast in its support of gun rights.

“Unfortunately, the first response from some politicians has been to call for more gun control,” the NRA said in response to the legality of bump stocks. “Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks.”

Either way, Americans can all agree this act of violence is one of great terror that impacted many people’s lives, if not taking them.

“Mentally, everybody is still dealing with what they saw and felt,” Medford said. “Post traumatic stress disorder is real. I can tell you that. Sleeping has been a problem. Some people were hiding still as we were walking back to the hotel. There were people jumping in vehicles. A lot of people [were crying].”