America has experienced “yet another night filled with unspeakable terror” and “we need to pray and to take care of those who are suffering,” the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has said.
In Las Vegas, a gunman now identified by law enforcement officials as Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, unleashed a shower of bullets on an outdoor country music festival. The crowd at the event numbered more than 22,000.
He killed at least 50 people and wounded more than 400, making it by all accounts “the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, said.
“My heart and my prayers, and those of my brother bishops and all the members of the church, go out to the victims of this tragedy and to the city of Las Vegas,” he said.
“At this time, we need to pray and to take care of those who are suffering,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “In the end, the only response is to do good — for no matter what the darkness, it will never overcome the light. May the Lord of all gentleness surround all those who are suffering from this evil, and for those who have been killed we pray, eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.”
In a telegram to Las Vegas Bishop Joseph Pepe, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said Pope Francis was “deeply saddened to learn of the shooting in Las Vegas” and “sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all those affected by this senseless tragedy.”
“He commends the efforts of the police and emergency service personnel, and offers the promise of his prayers for the injured and for all who have died, entrusting them to the merciful love of Almighty God,” the cardinal said.
The barrage of shots came from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino complex on the Las Vegas Strip. Once police officers determined where the gunshots were coming from, they stormed the room. Reports differ as to whether the gunman was killed by police or shot himself.
The suspect later identified as Paddock was from Mesquite, Nevada, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. USA Today reported police had blocked off the road to Paddock’s home, which they planned to search.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, describing Paddock as one of their “soldiers”.