tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC October 2, 2017 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT
holt. jacqueline and i will see you tonight again at 11:00. breaking news tonight. the deadliest mass shooting in modern american history. at least 59 dead, over 500 wounded as a sniper opens fire from a smashed-out hotel window high above a country music festival, unleashing a massacre on the vegas strip. first responders on a frantic mission to find the gunman. survivors describing scenes of sheer terror. >> bullets flying everywhere. everybody running. it was really, really bad. >> tonight a baffling mystery. why did he do it? what we've learned about the gunman and his massive arsenal. we have it all covered including extraordinary acts of heroism in a field of horror. "nightly news" begins right now.
las vegas mass shooting. this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt reporting tonight from las vegas. good evening. the hearts of our nation ache tonight with a sickening familiarity. another mass murder, another taking of innocent lives on an uj imaginable scale. last night's attack here along the vegas strip is the worst u.s. shooting in modern history. as of right now at least 59 dead, hundreds injured about. as we come on the air a broken-out window on the upper floor of the mandalay bay hotel behind me points to where hell was unleashed. a guest room turned sniper's nest for a 64-year-old man armed with more than a dozen weapons launched his withering rapid-fire gun attack, turning an open-air evening concert on the grounds just over my shoulder into an you are bab ki -- urban killing field. we have a team assembled to cover all angles of this developing story. we start with nbc's joe fryer.
>> reporter: in a matter of seconds, a country music festival turned tragic as a strm of gunfire raining down upon an innocent crowd. >> he was shooting everybody. and there was dead people everywhere. and i don't even know what was happening. there was just -- it was just shooting randomly. >> reporter: it started at 10:08 p.m. first reports of shots fired as singer jason aldean performed. initially there was confusion. many wondering if the sounds were part of the show. >> it's fireworks. stop. it's fireworks. >> reporter: but they quickly realized what was happening. >> we have an active shooter! pe have an active shooter inside the fairgrounds! >> reporter: a gunman perched on the 32nd floor of the mandalay bay resort had opened fire on 22,000 concert goers. >> we got about 40 to 50 people were pinned against this wall. >> reporter: all of them scrambling to find shelter wherever they could.
>> and then one after the other. we were laying down on the floor. i didn't know to get up, to run, just to stay, to duck. >> reporter: at 11:20, 1 hour and 12 minutes after the shooting gan, the s.w.a.t. team busted into the shooter's hotel room. >> all units on the 32nd floor, s.w.a.t. is there. move back. >> breach, breach, breach. >> reporter: inside they found stephen paddock dead. authorities say he killed himself. they looked for marilou danley but she was out of the country. >> right now we believe he's the sole aggressor at this point and the scene is static. >> reporter: law enforcement officials believe paddock fired out of two adjoining rooms using a device similar to a hammer to smash the windows. authorities say they found more than a dozen weapons inside those rooms. as the chaos unfolded our team was actually staying in the mandalay bay tower under lockdown.
>> there are flashing red and blue lights everywhere as this area has been flooded by police and emergency responders. >> reporter: we were six floors above the gunman who was on the 32nd floor of the hotel firing across las vegas boulevard toward the concert. the stage 400 yards from the hotel with the crowd gathered in front. many then fleeing to the festival's main entrance. >> it was very scary at the time. and i got my wife up. as i got her up, two guys came running by that were carrying a girl or somebody that was all bloody, and it looked like they'd been shot. >> reporter: in the end, a massive loss of life and hundreds injured in the worst mass shooting in modern american history. during that lockdown, our team was told to stay inside of our rooms for a total of ten hours before we got the all-clear. in that time on two occasions looking through the peephole, we could see police going down the hallway one of those times with guns drawn.
then lester, on a third occasion police returned knocking on all the doors checking to make sure all the guests were okay. >> joe, thank you. meantime, police and federal agents are digging into the gunman's recent past trying to figure out what set him off, what could possibly have led him to carry out such an atrocity. the more details we learn the deeper this mystery gets. nbc news justice correspondent pete williams has the latest. >> this we understand is the house that was owned by paddock. >> reporter: less than an hour after the shooting stopped -- >> they do have a large crew out here. >> reporter: police and federal agents descended on the home of stephen paddock in mesquite, nevada. a search turned up 19 more guns, ammunition and explosives but no clues about what drove him to commit mass murder. he lived there with his girlfriend marilou danley. >> we have not had any contacts with these people in the past. we haven't had any traffic stops, we haven't had any law enforcement contacts, no arrests or nothing.
>> reporter: a younger brother eric paddock says the family never saw it comes. >> just like an asteroid fell out of the sky. there's no -- there was nothing that would say he would do this kind of thing. there's no affiliations. there's no church, there's no religion, there's no politics, there's no anything. >> reporter: he says paddock recently texted to ask how his 90-year-old mother was doing after hurricane irma and texted again about attending a family wedding. their father, benjamin hoskins paddock, was once on the fbi's ten most wanted list after escaping from prison in 1968 while serving time for bank robbery. the fbi described the father as psychopathic with suicidal tendencies. but the son, stephen paddock, had no brushes with the law. he was a retired accountant after living for a time in texas and florida, a multimillionaire real estate developer, his brother says. investigators say in the past few weeks he gambled heavily at las vegas hotels and
casinos, placing tens of thousands of dollars in bets. federal officials and gun store owners say he has legally purchased rifles and handguns over the past several months in nevada. more than a dozen assault-type rifles like this were found in his hotel room, federal officials say, along with some sniper rifles with scopes and tripods. but they haven't yet determined what made them automatic, capable of shooting continuously and rapidly, whether they were bought illegally that way or later modified. police say he checked into the mandalay bay hotel last thursday and brought in all the guns and ammunition himself along with his luggage, keeping it hidden from the housekeeping staff. but investigators say they don't know why paddock came to the hotel to kill and why he targeted a country music concert. so far they say they found no notes, no e-mails, no social media postings indicating how long ago he developed this plan, but they say they do not believe that he had any help. lester? >> pete williams,
thank you. it is hard to watch that smartphone video of the attack without imagining yourself in such a situation. what would i do? how would i react? those videos made us all witnesses to the shooting. only those who lived through it can speak to the hard choice of survival in a place where it appeared there were no good choices. the images are hard to shake. a night out turning into a nightmare. split second decisions. do you run or do you take cover? mike croft was ten feet from the stage when the shots began. >> i knew they came from the hotel. i'm like we're screaming at people to get down on the ground so you're not a target. >> reporter: his friend rob mcintosh had been shot. your instinct was get down, not run. >> yes. oh, yeah, my buddy was hit. i'm not leaving him. >> reporter: where was he hit? >> three times in the chest. >> reporter: did he remain conscious? >> yes, the whole time. he had his finger in the bullet hole. leave your finger in. >> reporter: a that moment backstage more critical decisions. buzz brainard working
with sirius/xm there with his 19-year-old son hank. >> just everybody i saw dove underneath the tour buses. my son was there. i was on top of him. we're on the ground underneath. bullets were hitting the dirt, so you could feel the dirt -- >> reporter: you're feeling then ko cushion of the bullets. >> hitting your face, the dirt is. >> reporter: believing the only way to get out was to run across the stage that jason aldean just fled. >> i grabbed my son by the hand. he's 19 years old, but he was my little boy there. >> reporter: yeah, yeah. >> and we sprinted across the stage. by the time we merged with the crowd that was here, so then it just -- it became chaos. >> reporter: a bit of a stampede. >> it was exactly a stampede. what do you do? i mean, there was really nowhere to hide. >> reporter: meanwhile, mike crock had been trying to get his friend help. >> we actually loaded four wounded people up in the back of a pickup truck and tried to get to the hospital. finally we ran into an ambulance. and so you know, they started triaging and
we got my bud ne the ambulance. and one of the young men that was in the back of the truck as i was carrying him, he passed away. so that young man, somebody's son, you know, passed away right there. it was not by himself. he was always with somebody. >> reporter: but late today, the moment mike had been waiting for. >> you're one of the lucky ones. >> reporter: reunited in the hospital with a friend he had helped save. >> you did good. thanks for staying with me. >> reporter: one glimmer of hope tonight. so many desperate for more. mike crock's friend rob is facing more surgery but is expected to recover. and mike told us he's planning to donate blood for the injured. now to those who didn't make it out. the country music festival that came under attack here had brought in tens of thousands of fans from far and wide. among those killed, a newlywed protecting his wife. a special education teacher. a single mom. police officers. and so many more. nbc's stephanie gosk with more now on the victims.
>> reporter: as bullets started raining down on sunday, sonny's instinct was to protect his wife of just over a year, heather. he grabbed her and started running when he was shot in the back. heather says he saved my life and lost his. at this point i can barely breathe. melton was a registered nurse in tennessee. his wife is a surgeon. they met at the hospital and fell in love. >> he was a very kind, loving person that everybody liked a lot. >> reporter: bryce jordan lined up to donate blood just hours after learning his cousin quinton robins was killed. robins attended the university of nevada las vegas. in his free time he coached his little brother's flag football team. >> i loved quinton. he was a very popular kid around school and around town. >> reporter: at least two manhattan beach, california, residents died. including rachel parker. and special education teacher sandy casey. her partner
christopher said she lived life to the fullest and made me the happiest man in the world. secretary lisa romero and office manager susan smith also among the victims. 28-year-old single mother jessica clemchuck was visiting las vegas with her fiance. you are heaven sent. you are my one and only she wrote to him last week. she leaves behind children. las vegas officer charleston hart fd. >> one of my officers wa was off duty attending the concert and lost his life. >> reporter: one witness said off-duty officers in the crowd were injured when they acted as human shields. >> they laid over top of us every time a round was fired. >> reporter: mechanic jordan mckilleden was a big fan of las vegas. he crossed paths with heather gooze. i'm with a young man who died in my arms, she wrote on facebook. so many still searching for loved ones and answers.
families are being directed here to this convention center. with so many casualties, the identification process will be complicated. they may go days without knowing for sure what happened to their loved ones. lester? >> all right, stephanie gosk, thank you. the emergency response in the city was overwhelming. victims pouring into hospitals any way they could for hours. some clinging to life, others walking wounded. our national correspondent miguel almaguer has more on the men and women on the frontlines in the rush to save lives. >> reporter: as chaos turned to carnage, thousands ran for exits while those in uniform poured in to help. >> we're getting shot at. we're getting shot at. >> reporter: first responders risking their own lives to save others. >> we're taking gunfire. it's going right over our heads. >> reporter: wearing kevlar helmets and vests, they tended to the wounded any way they could. >> we're making tourniquets out of blankets, but i'm
running out of blankets here. >> reporter: the seriously injured were everywhere, carried on stretchers and wheelbarrows. those that could help did. >> right now, we need your truck. we just need to get people over to the hospital, okay? >> there were trucks that had eight people in the back of them. >> reporter: trauma supervisor tony mullen has never seen anything like it before. >> we put gurneys outside. we had wheelchairs outside waiting for the people to be brought in. >> reporter: for hours ambulances ferried in those clinging to life. overwhelming five hospitals. >> umc is at capacity for victims unless it's life threatening. >> reporter: all emergency personnel called in to help. today hundreds waited for hours to donate much-needed blood to help victims like nick rabon, shot in the chest. his brother a paramedic, saved his life, then those of strangers. >> just combined effort of bystanders just helping people. it was one of the most beautiful craziest
things i've ever seen inside of a tragedy. >> reporter: the worst of times bringing out the best inside. so many saved among so much loss. at the two largest trauma centers in las vegas, including this one, at least a dozen remain in critical condition. 50 more face serious surgeries and while so many lives were saved, it's important to remember tonight many are still fighting for their lives. lester? >> all right, miguel almaguer, part of our team on the ground here in las vegas. in honor of the victims president trump led a moment of silence at the white house this afternoon. he also condemned this attack as, quote, an act of pure evil and ordered flags to fly at half-staff. the president said he'll visit las vegas on wednesday after his trip to hurricane-ravaged puerto rico tomorrow. there's much more still ahead as we continue tonight from las vegas including the shooter's guns. inside the arsenal he used to carry out his rampage. police say some may have been fully automatic. how did he ge i was wondering if an electric toothbrush really cleans...
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tonight law enforcement sources tell nbc news the gunman here in las vegas may have been using semiautomatic weapons converted to fire to full automatic mode. semiautomatic weapons are legal in the u.s., but for three decades new sales of automatic weapons have been illegal. the question is how may the shooter have gotten his hands on what were essentially military grade machine
guns? here's nbc's tom costello. >> get down. get down. >> reporter: veteran cops could tell from the sound of the gunfire that fully automatic weapons were likely involved. among the armory of guns, ammunition, tripods and scopes recovered from the hotel room were 0.223 caliber and 0.308 caliber rifles possibly illegally turned into automatic machine guns used by the military. >> it goes down the barrel with high velocity. that's why it's so deadly. it will go through a policeman's vest through him, out the back and into the next person. >> reporter: federal law has outlawed the sale of new machine guns, semiautomatic eps with are legal in most if not all states. some gun enthusiasts and criminals use $50 kits available online to convert them into automatic guns. youtube clips show how
it's done. police say the number of fully converted military guns has risen sharply. firing off hundreds of rounds per minute. >> my view is they have no place in our society. they are weapons of law. >> reporter: in nerve dar ner nevada, there's no limit. and shooting one doesn't require much skill. >> he's just emptying the whole magazine into the crowd. mass murder on a vulgar scale. >> reporter: tonight at least two nevada gun dealerships say the suspect legally purchased weapons there, but what's not clear is how he got his hands on so many powerful weapons of war. tom costello, nbc news, washington. we're back in a moment with more on this massacre and the long line of mass liberty mutual saved us almost eight hundred dollars when we switched our auto and home insurance. with liberty, we could afford a real babysitter instead of your brother. hey. oh. that's my robe. is it? you could save seven hundred eighty two dollars when liberty stands with you.
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in this country we have witnessed events like these far too often, but it all seems that the worst of types often bring out the best in humanity. here's nbc's cynthia mcfadden. >> reporter: it's become painfully common. >> it's happened again. a mass shooting at an american school in suburban denver. >> what unfolded just a few steps from here last night is almost too much to bear. >> our collective sense of security was shattered again today by terror. >> reporter: another mass shooting in america. at 10:08 p.m. in las vegas a grim new record is about to be set. the most deadly mass shooting ever. america itself has a grim distinction, with 5% of the world's population, it endures more than 30% of the mass shootings. the slaughter in las vegas now added to a tragic timeline. 50 years ago 16 dead in texas, 13 at columbine, 32 die at virginia tech, at
sandy hook elementary, 26 dead. in orlando, 49. but there is another list, too. not of the massacres but of the heroes. the people who helped. the sandy hook teacher ka ka katelynn who saved students. and the doctor who worked hours straight sabing the nightclub victims. and in oregon, 30-year-old chris mintz, a u.s. army vet, who was shot five times after directly confronting a heavily armed gunman who had already killed nine people. it's too early to know all the names of those who helped others last night, but in the coming days and weeks, we will. and when we do, perhaps a new timeline is in order. a timeline of the heroes. cynthia mcfadden, nbc
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las vegas mass shooting. this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. reporting tonight from las vegas. >> we're glad you could stay with us. we're back from las vegas with more of our continuing coverage of the deadly rampage here. now the worst mass shooting in modern american history. at least 59 people were killed, more than 500 have been injured. all after a gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of the mandalay bay hotel and casino on to a country music festival below where more than 20,000 had gathered for what they thought would be a night of gun along the famed vegas strip. by the time police had stormed the shooter's room, they say he had taken his own life, surrounded by an