“My fellow Americans, we are joined together today in sadness, shock and grief,” President Donald Trump said this morning, hours after the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s history.
“Last night a gunman opened fire on a large crowd at country music concert…He brutally murdered more than 50 people and wounded hundreds more,” Trump said somberly in an internationally televised statement from the Diplomatic Reception Room inside the White House.
The number of confirmed dead has climbed to 58, with 515 people injured.
Trump called it “an act of pure evil” but stopped short of labeling it domestic terrorism, as he has been prone to do. He announced that “in memory of the fallen” he has directed the American flag to be flown at half staff at government buildings and will visit Vegas on Wednesday to meet with first responders and families of some of the victims.
Trump singled out for thanks the Las Vegas police “and all the first responders for their courageous effort and helping save lives of so many,” calling the speed with which they acted “miraculous and prevented further loss of life.”
“To have found the shooter so quickly after first shots were fired is something for which we will always be thankful and grateful. It shows what true professionalism is all about,” Trump said.
Stephen Paddock fired hundreds of rounds out of two windows on the 32nd floor of a hotel building across the street from the open-air concert, using automatic weapons for maximum carnage. Las Vegas police now say more than 500 people were injured in the chaos and the death toll will rise. His room number was ascertained using the building’ smoke detector; authorities say he took his own life as a SWAT team stormed the room.
“Hundreds of our fellow citizens are now mourning sudden loss of a loved one,” Trump said in his address. “We cannot fathom their pain; we cannot imagine their loss… To the families of the victims: We are praying for you and we ask god to help see you through this very dark period.” POTUS pledged the country’s full support to those recovering from their wounds.
In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one, and it always has,” Trump insisted.
The punch-back president called “upon the bonds that unite us, our faith, our family, and our shared values,” insisting “our bonds cannot be broken by violence.” Though “we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our citizens it is our love that defines us today and always will, forever,” Trump insisted.
“Melania and I are praying for every American who has been hurt, wounded or lost they love so dearly in this terrible, terrible attack. We pray for entire nation to find unity and peace..And we pray for day when evil is banished and the innocent are safe from hatred and fear.”
In the wake of today’s historic level of violence, Trump’s participation has been cancelled in today’s meeting with governors from around the country, at which he would have highlighted the administration’s scrubbing of Obama-era regulations.Vice President Mike Pence will fill in for POTUS at that event.
Earlier this morning, Trump tweeted: “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!”
Paddock had checked in to the hotel Thursday night. He waited until the performance of the headline act in the sold-out three-day Route 91 Harvest concert, to insure maximum attendance. Police said they are still seeking a motive.