At least 58 people have been killed in the deadliest mass shooting in US history after a gunman opened fire on an open-air music festival from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino on the Las Vegas strip.
A further 515 people were injured, the Clark County sheriff, Joe Lombardo, said in a briefing in the early hours of Monday morning. The death toll surpasses the Orlando shooting at the Pulse nightclub in June 2016, when 49 people died.
The suspected gunman was killed by police in the Mandalay Bay hotel, across the Las Vegas Boulevard from the festival site. He was named as Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old local man.
“We have no idea what his belief system was,” Lombardo said. “Right now, we believe he was the sole aggressor and the scene is static.”
Paddock’s companion, 62-year-old Marilou Danley, was named by police as a person of interest. Lombardo said authorities were “confident but not 100% sure” that she had been located.
The attack took place during the final performances of the three-day Route 91 Harvest country music festival on Sunday night. Two off-duty officers were among the dead, and the overall toll may rise, said Lombardo.
Witnesses who fled the scene described seeing muzzle flashes from the upper floors of the Mandalay Bay and hearing what they described as sustained automatic gunfire.
“It was very obvious it was gunfire coming down into the crowd,” said Jackie Hoffing, who lives in Las Vegas. “It was hysteria. There were people trampled … I was with my husband. He stayed with me. We jumped walls, climbed cars, ran for our lives. I’ve never run that hard or been that scared in my whole life.”
Desiree Price, visiting the city from San Diego, had blood on her shirt and trousers. “We heard shots like firecrackers,” she said. “I helped someone who was bleeding. Two girls hid behind a car with us right outside the concert. One girl was shot in her leg, the other in her shoulder. It didn’t stop so we all ran – we kept going.”
The shooting began during a performance by country music star Jason Aldean. As the 40,000 people in the crowd began to flee, the music stopped temporarily and started up again before another round of gunshots sent the performers ducking for cover and fleeing the stage, a witness told the Associated Press.
Jake Owen, a country music star who played the set before Jason Aldean’s, wrote on Twitter that “gun shots were ringing off of the stage rigging and road cases”. He suggested that the gunman was aiming at the stage at times. “No one knew where to go,” he added.
Many of those who ran from the festival site sought refuge in nearby motels, parking garages and apartment complexes. At a gas station across the street, survivors reunited with friends. Some were teary eyed, still shaking with fear.
Kevin Kropf, from Orange County, California said: “I stayed in the venue for a long time until there was nobody else there. I saw a Swat team go in and a Swat team go out. I didn’t want to get up because I didn’t want to get mistaken for a bad guy and get shot. So I was just huddling behind a table.
“I saw a couple people on the street covered up with sheets and them loading one girl into the back of a truck. She was definitely dead … Whoever she was with was in the back of the truck too. He was a mess.”
An injured person is carried from the scene at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. Photograph: David Becker/Getty Images
Some flights resumed at the city’s McCarran international airport on Monday morning after all planes were temporarily grounded on Sunday evening.
The White House said Donald Trump was being briefed about the situation. “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting,” the US president tweeted.
Las Vegas city hall said it was a “very sad night for Las Vegas” and warned members of the public to stay away from the south end of the Vegas strip, where the Mandalay Bay is located. The music festival has been held for the past four years on a 15-acre lot across the strip from the hotel and casino. The Guardian UK