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UPDATE 6 – At least 58 dead in shooting attack at Las Vegas music festival

A gunman has opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 500 others at a nearby music festival, local officials say. It is the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States.

The attack began at 10:08 p.m. PT on Sunday when gunfire erupted at the end of a performance by country music star Jason Aldean, who was performing at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in front of 22,000 people. Witnesses said hundreds of bullets were fired and the gunshots appeared to be coming from a higher altitude.

Police said the gunman was firing from a hotel room on the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay, where the suspect was later found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The gunman was identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a man who lived at a retirement community in the city of Mesquite.

Investigators said Paddock was in possession of more than 10 rifles and had been staying at the hotel since Thursday, but his possible motive was not immediately known. The FBI said there were no known links to international terrorism, rejecting a claim of responsibility from the Islamic State group (ISIS).

In the hours after the attack, police identified 62-year-old Marilou Danley as a person of interest in connection with the shooting. But investigators later determined that Danley, who lives with Paddock, was not at the hotel when the attack took place. She has since been ruled out as a suspect.

Hospitals near the scene of the attack were overwhelmed by the large number of casualties, some of whom were rushed to hospital by citizens in private vehicles. The large number of victims forced several hospitals to turn away patients who were not seriously injured.

Police chief Joe Lombardo confirmed that at least 58 people had been killed in the shooting, including an off-duty Las Vegas police officer. At least 515 others were being treated at hospitals across the region, though there was no information about the severity of their injuries. An unknown number of people remain in critical condition.

With at least 58 dead and more than 500 injured, it is the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Singer Jason Aldean said that he and his crew were not among those injured. "Tonight has been beyond horrific," he said in a post on Instagram. "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."

Several off-duty police officers were among those injured, including 2 Las Vegas police officers, 2 members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, 1 officer from the Los Angeles Police Department, and 1 officer from the Bakersfield Police Department. One officer from Las Vegas and one deputy from Los Angeles were critically injured, but the condition of the officer from Las Vegas was later said to be stable.

McCarran International Airport, which is close to the scene of the shooting, was shut down as a precaution as police officers were searching for the gunman. Nearly two dozen flights were diverted to other airports and dozens more were delayed, but flight traffic gradually resumed on early Monday morning.

President Donald Trump condemned Sunday's attack in a televised statement from the White House. "We are joined together today in sadness, shock, and grief," he said. [The gunman] brutally murdered more than 50 people and wounded hundreds more. It was an act of pure evil."

The president thanked first responders for their "courageous efforts" in helping to save the lives of many. "The speed with which they acted is miraculous and prevented further loss of life. To have found the shooter so quickly after the first shots were fired is something for which we will always be thankful and grateful," he said.

Trump added: "Hundreds of our fellow citizens are now mourning the sudden loss of a loved one - a parent, a child, a brother or sister. We cannot fathom their pain. We cannot imagine their loss. To the families of the victims: We are praying for you and we are here for you, and we ask God to help see you through this very dark period."

Trump said he will travel to Las Vegas on Wednesday to meet with first responders and families of the victims. He also ordered the flag of the United States to be flown at half staff at all public buildings, military posts, naval stations, naval vessels, and embassies.

"A tragic and heinous act of violence has shaken the Nevada family. Our prayers are with the victims and all affected by this act of cowardice," Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman thanked first responders, writing on Twitter: "Pray for Las Vegas."

Former U.S. President Barack Obama also responded to the deadly shooting. "Michelle and I are praying for the victims in Las Vegas. Our thoughts are with their families and everyone enduring another senseless tragedy," he said in a statement.

(Copyright 2017 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

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