MSU students react to Las Vegas shooting
A sense of horror and mourning fills the streets of Las Vegas as the city just experienced the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history, with a current total of 59 people killed and at least 527 injured in a mass shooting at a concert Sunday night.
The lone gunman, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, took siege in a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino located across the street from a Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. A non-stop barrage of gunfire poured down upon the crowd of more than 22,000 concert goers, leaving people frantically flooding into the streets in search of cover.
Country music singer Jake Owen, who was on stage when the shooting began, told CNN on Monday the “shooting was going on for at least 10 minutes."
According to Las Vegas police, 20 rifles were found in the hotel room occupied by Paddock and police believed the gunman killed himself prior to SWAT units reaching the scene.
Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said police had no prior knowledge of Paddock, and the gunman reportedly had no criminal history prior to the incident.
This shooting currently has no known connection to any international terrorist group, according to officials.
Students waking up to the tragic news Monday morning are sympathizing with the victims while trying to wrap their heads around why and how something like this could have happened.
“I was on twitter and all the celebrities and all my friends were talking about it and were saying things like ‘my thoughts and prayers are with Las Vegas,’” Sophomore Danielle Coluccy said. “I had no idea what was going on but as I kept scrolling down people were talking about how there had been a shooting.”
“I’m just frustrated and devastated because this kind of stuff just keeps happening and I’m tired of hearing about all this tragedy,” she added.
Media and information senior Gabrielle Mundy also found out about the shooting through social media and was saddened that a mass shooting occurred in a city that attracts so many outside visitors.
“It’s getting out of hand,” Mundy said. "Las Vegas is supposed the city people go to relax and get everything off their chest, and now that it has reached over there, you can tell that the world is getting bad.”
While eating breakfast in a café on campus Monday morning, human biology sophomore Connor Hosey discovered the news of the shooting by watching CNN in the cafeteria, and was in pure disbelief over what took place.
“I was kind of blown away at the fact that a man was able to get to a concert venue and just open fire on that many people,” Hosey said.
An Act of Terrorism?
Although U.S. officials have said that there is no evidence that directly links Paddock to an international terrorist group and Sheriff Lombardo stating that the attacker was a “lone wolf”, ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Las Vegas shooting, according to reports.
The U.S. has been heavily affected by both international and domestic terrorism in recent years; these attacks include the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 and the Pulse night club shooting in Orlando last year. These attacks were two of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, killing 26 people and 50 people respectively.
Despite the debunked assertion by U.S. officials that the Las Vegas shooting is related to an international extremists group, some students at MSU believe the attack was still an act of terror.
“Any time you open fire in such a large well-known area and it’s inspired by hate I can assume that it’s an act of terror,” Kyra Porties, a senior service center representative said.
While Porties believes an act of terrorism was displayed, she disagrees with the notion that the attack was a part of an elaborate scheme and carried out by an extremist group such as ISIS.
“I don’t think that it was a setup from al-Qaida or ISIS or something like that,” Porties added. “I just think it was one person who had hate in his heart.”
Colucci also thinks the shooting was an act of terror due to the gunman’s malicious intentions.
“I believe so, because he intentionally wanted to hurt people, and he did,” Colucci said.
With Paddock having no criminal history prior to this incident, his brother, Eric Paddock, said he is “completely dumbfounded” as to what drove Paddock to committing this heinous act in a statement he made to the police. Lombardo said the shooter’s motives were unclear and that he wasn’t going to try and figure out what his motives were or “get into the mind of a psychopath”
MSU senior Bailey Dykema agreed with Lombardo’s sentiment.
“I’m not going to say what a guy’s motives are for doing something that crazy,” Dykema said. “Whenever they figure it out, I’ll figure it out.”
As the nation continues to mourn over the victims lost in the shooting, the question now is, what’s next?
Along with a feeling of shock and sorrow, the Las Vegas attack has left students at MSU feeling concerned, and with good reason. From the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 that left 32 people dead, to the Ohio State stabbing incident last year that left 11 victims hospitalized, there have been a vast number of violent assault sprees carried out on college campuses across the U.S. over the last decade.
Agribusiness student Jorge Cisneros said that as a college student on a public campus that’s accessible to anyone, his initial reaction to the news of the shooting was fear for his safety as well as that of his peers at MSU.
“It’s kind of scary for me knowing that it could happen anywhere,” Cisneros said. “That kind of scares me knowing the amount of students we have here.”
Colucci and Porties said along with their fears of a similar incident happening at MSU, their concerns now spread to other aspects of their lives due to the prevailing problem of mass shootings and assaults in the U.S.
“I’m concerned just being out in public because you never know when something like this is going to happen anymore,” Colucci said.
“It just makes me nervous because you just never know, you could literally be doing anything like walking your kids to school, walking to the park,” Porties said. “When you drop your kids off at school you expect them to be safe, and from Sandy Hook we can see that even schools aren’t safe, so that makes me nervous.”
The deadly mass shooting Las Vegas has reignited the debate on gun control, as the state of Nevada has some of the most lenient gun laws in the country.
In Nevada, firearm owners are not required to have licenses or register their weapons; nor are they limited to the amount of firearms they can possess. Also, the state does not prohibit the transfer or possession of assault weapons, 50-caliber rifles or large-capacity ammunition magazines.
Hosey expressed his concern over the easy access people have to guns.
“I feel like our country makes guns too easily, it's too accessible,” Hosey said. “I think that there should be more regulations on it.”
John Collins, a former director of forensic science for MSUPD and was involved with an Obama administration initiative to prevent these kinds of incidents following the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, said mass shootings of the sort are both a gun issue and mental health issue, and are perpetrated by mentally unstable individuals having access to destructive weapons.
“I think that we have a situation where we have mentally ill people can access firearms and other weapons of destruction,” Collins said. “When they’re wanting to make a name for themselves by committing this kind of a crime, then it is a danger for all of us.”
As MSU students and other people throughout the country potentially impacted by the tragic incident continue to emotionally recover from the horrific shooting, Collins said that while you can’t change what took place in Las Vegas, you can console those who have been affected by it.
“You can’t undo it,” Collins said. “The way that you comfort them is to just be there for them.”