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Crow, who is releasing a song dedicated to Newtown victims, says country musicians are afraid of speaking about gun laws and losing their audience

Money and fear have kept country music artists from speaking out about gun laws, the nine-time Grammy Award-winner Sheryl Crow said, even after thousands of country fans were targeted in October in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.


You would think after Vegas we would see some leadership from our country community, Crow told the Guardian. But all I can say about that is if theres money involved, and fear, these conversations come to a screeching halt.

Theres no one that I know of in the popular country world that is willing to step out and really to take a stand on this, and thats really unfortunate.

I hope there will be people who find a way out of their fear, who stick up for humanity as opposed to sticking with their fanbase or the money that can come along with having those large crowds.

Crows new song, The Dreaming Kind, released on Monday, is a tribute to the 20 young children and six adults who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut five years ago.

Proceeds from downloads of the song will benefit Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit founded by several family members of the shooting victims that has trained more than 2.5 million students and adults to identify signs of at-risk behavior before it leads to violence.

The song was inspired by Crows real sense of helplessness after the Las Vegas shooting, her frustration with Americas toxic gun debate and her struggle with how to tell her two sons, aged 10 and seven, about mass shootings that targeted kids like them as well as music lovers like their mother and her fans.

Its a horrible feeling for my kids to not even be able to know what happened at Sandy Hook, Crow said, for fear theyll walk into school and think theyre not in a safe place, or that mom will go to work and theres a chance she may not come home if theres somebody in the audience with a gun.

She tried to protect her two sons as much as possible from seeing news about the Las Vegas shooting on 1 October, she said, an effort made easier by the fact that her two boys are young enough not to have their own phones.

Three days before her Sandy Hook tribute song was slated to debut on ABCs Good Morning America, she told the Guardian, she still had not sat down with her children to explain what had happened at the elementary school in Newtown. Even contemplating that conversation left her shaken.

I think they wont understand, she said. Im not even able to fathom that.

After the Las Vegas shooting, Caleb Keeter, a guitarist who played at the Route 91 concert which was targeted, shared a viral post explaining how the experience had profoundly changed his opinion on gun rights.

We need gun control, he wrote, RIGHT. NOW.

Roseanne Cash wrote an op-ed challenging country artists to speak out against the National Rifle Association and to break the cozy relationship between country artists and the gun rights group.

There is no other way to say this, Cash wrote. The NRA funds domestic terrorism.

But mainstream stars have not come forward to start a conversation on how to strike a better balance between gun rights and the right to go to a concert or a movie theater without the fear of being targeted, Crow said.

I think its fear-based, this fear of losing your audience, this fear of pissing off your audience, she said.

Crow said she knows that speaking out about gun violence and gun laws will spark a new round of online harassment and vitriol.

My stance on it is very unpopular, she said. Im a person just like everyone else is, and Im not above being really hurt. But, she said, I want to see us do better, I want to see us as the country we were meant to be.

A mourner lights a candle for those who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. Photograph: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The emotional terrorism that is being wielded from the White House down has everyone so on edge that its robbed us of our ability to have reasonable conversations, where we sit in a room and were able to discuss these very important topics with people we dont necessarily agree with.

As artists, I feel like we really have to show up in this, in all the areas that are hard for us. We need to write songs that talk about these issues. We need to write songs about whats happening in our communities the injustices, the people who feel left out.

Outside of Bruce Springsteen, who writes for these people?

Too many artists are putting out the same song over and over, because its paying for the big houses, Crow said. Our fans need to know that we care about them.

Crows new song is more grieving than confrontational. She said she saw writing a benefit song for a Sandy Hook nonprofit as an opportunity to be proactive in a way thats completely non-political, thats completely compassion based.

For the Sandy Hook parents and family members who listen to the song she said, she hopes that perhaps theres a little bit of comfort in it. Perhaps theres just a moment of being transported away from the experience, and feeling there is something larger at play.

Nicole Hockley, a co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise, lost her six-year-old son Dylan at Sandy Hook. She has become a full-time advocate for violence prevention. She said she cried the first time she listened to Crows song, and that it is constantly, constantly in my head now.

When I wake up in the morning its the first thing I listen to, she said.

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After mass shootings, survivors and victims families face a second round of attacks online and fighting back is like trying to kill roaches with a fly swatter

Mike Cronk was sitting half-naked on a street corner, hands covered in blood, when the TV news reporter approached. The 48-year-old, who had used his shirt to try to plug a bullet wound in his friends chest, recounted in a live interview how a young man he did not know had just died in his arms.

Cronks story of surviving the worst mass shooting in modern US history went viral, but many people online werent calling him a hero. On YouTube, dozens of videos, viewed by hundreds of thousands of people, claimed Cronk was an actor hired to play the part of a victim in the Las Vegas mass shooting on 1 October.

break the cycle

Conspiracy theorists harassed him on Facebook, sending messages like How much did they pay you? and How does it feel to be part of a hoax? The claims multiplied and soon YouTubes algorithm began actively promoting the conspiracy theory.

Two months later, Cronks online reputation appears damaged beyond repair. Type Mike Cronk into Google and YouTube, and the sites automatically suggest searches for actor and fake, leading to popular videos claiming he and his wounded friend were performers and that the Mandalay Bay tragedy that killed 58 people never happened.

YouTube search results offer conspiracy theories about Mike Cronk. Photograph: YouTube/Screengrab

Its awful that we have to go through what we did and then you have a whole new level of attacks on you and who you are, said Cronk, a retired teacher. I dont want negative stuff associated with my name, but how do we stop that?

As record-breaking mass shootings have become a ritual of life in the US, survivors and victims families across the country have increasingly faced an onslaught of social media abuse and viral slander. Bullying from the ugliest corners of the internet overwhelms the grief-stricken as they struggle to cope with the greatest horror theyve ever experienced.

The cycles of hoaxer harassment are now as predictable as mass shootings. And yet those with the most power to stop the spread of conspiracy theories have done little to address victims cries for help.

Like a swarm of locusts

The reporter Alison Parker was shot during a live broadcast. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Alison Parker was a television reporter who was shot dead by a disturbed former colleague during a routine morning broadcast.

Her father, Andy Parker, first encountered the conspiracy theorists who believed her murder was a hoax on his YouTube page. Before the shooting, he had uploaded a selection of videos appropriate for a 62-year-old Virginia dad: kayaking footage, recordings of Alisons dance recital, old commercials in which he appeared as a young actor in New York.

Afterwards, strangers online had seized on his decades-old acting career as proof that his daughters August 2015 shooting had been staged and that Andy Parker had supposedly been hired to act the role of a grieving father.

Commenters said he was part of a plot to trick the public into supporting gun control. It was like a swarm of locusts, he recalled.

Andy quickly made his page private but the hoax theorists did not go away.

This spring, nearly two years after Alisons death, as Andys wife, Barbara, was searching online for something related to the foundation they had set up to honor their daughters memory, she found something else. The second thing that opened up on Google was a YouTube video that the foundation is just a scam for Andy Parker to make money, a complete hoax.

I dont care what they say about me, Andy said, but leave the foundation alone. Leave my daughter alone.

It didnt take much searching for the father to find other YouTube videos. There were pages, endless pages of stuff. Posts about Alisons murder that analyzed footage and photographs, asking why there was no visible blood from her being shot. Others claimed Alison was still alive, that she had had plastic surgery to change her appearance and was now living in Israel.

Hoaxers said Andys acting in TV interviews was subpar. One video of the choked-up father talking about Alison had a caption floating above his forehead: No tears!

More recently, Cori Langdon, a Las Vegas taxi driver who picked up survivors of the October massacre, became one of the prime targets for conspiracy theorists after she posted video from the scene. Her footage was stolen and republished across the internet and used as proof of a number of debunked claims, including the rumor that there was a second shooter.

Violent threats quickly filled Langdons inbox and populated the comment sections on YouTube and Facebook. People called her queen of cunts and one of the dumbest fucking idiots.

Others said she was braindead, FAKE AS FUCK and fucking stupid!, with one writing: They should bring this cab driver in for questioning.

I was a basket case, it was so overwhelming, she said, recounting the first week after the shooting.

One conspiracy theory surrounding Langdon was that she had been killed after the massacre as part of a cover-up. She tried to make light of it, hoping that if the trolls believed she were dead, they would leave her alone. But she recalled one friend telling her: Somebody might try to kill you, Cori, so they can prove their conspiracy theories.

Meanwhile, Braden Matejka, who survived a gunshot to the head in Vegas, received such a high volume of online attacks and death threats from people calling him an actor that he had to close his Facebook account. One message said: I hope someone truly shoots you.

Lenny Pozner with his son Noah, who died at Sandy Hook elementary school. Photograph: courtesy Lenny Pozner

Lenny Pozner, whose six-year-old son, Noah, was killed in the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in December 2012, has faced some of the most vicious abuse and threats. This year, a woman was sentenced to prison for sending him violent threats, telling him on multiple occasions that death was coming real soon.

Rob McIntosh, who survived a gunshot to the chest in Las Vegas, said he could not figure out the motives of anonymous users online accusing victims like him of lying: I dont know what the driving force behind people being like that is. I dont understand.

Why people believe

There is no easy way to change the mind of a conspiracy theorist.

Colleen Seifert, a University of Michigan psychology professor, said people were inclined to trust content they viewed on YouTube and might be drawn to mass shooting conspiracy theories simply because the tragedies were so implausible and frightening to them.

The idea that you could be innocently going to a concert and could be shot you dont want to believe thats true. Youre protecting your own feeling of security and safety.

Its unclear how much belief in conspiracy theories has changed over time. A study based on reader letters sent to two major newspapers between 1890 and 2010 found the percentage stayed flat. But in recent years, conspiracy theories have begun to spread at much faster rates online, and many different kinds of people believe them, said Jan-Willem van Prooijen, a psychologist at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

It was always assumed that this is just a small group of lunatics, he said. We now know, because of representative samples in various countries, that this is really very widespread.

One recent survey suggested that more than half of Americans believe 9/11 conspiracy theories and that more than 40% support theories about alien encounters, global warming and John F Kennedys assassination. There is little research on the prevalence of the crisis actor theory a belief that the government or other conspirators stage mass shootings but the hoaxes now reliably populate social media within the first 24 hours of many shooting tragedies.

Its typically very hard to discredit a conspiracy theory, Van Prooijen said. Anything people say that goes against a conspiracy theory can be seen as a sign that you are a part of the conspiracy theory.

When Langdon, the Vegas taxi driver, briefly took down her viral video from Facebook so she could remove identifying information about her passengers, some conspiracy theorists said it was proof that the FBI was trying to silence her and cover up the truth.

Im a mainstream media gal. I dont think the government is after me, she said. It just makes me sick.

It can be particularly upsetting to victims of conspiracy theories to discover that intelligent people and even their own friends believe hoaxes.

Cori Langdon. Photograph: Jacob Kepler for the Guardian

Langdon said she learned that a mutual friend was duped by the fake news that she was murdered: It made me realize, even in my own circle of friends and people I work with, there are people with some crazy imaginations.

Van Prooijen, a widely cited scholar on the subject, said one of his best friends was a conspiracy theorist. The professor hasnt been able to change his views.

Another reason it is so hard to challenge conspiracy theories is the threats and bullying that now arise from simply speaking up. One shooting victim who was subjected to an aggressive harassment campaign did not want to do an interview for fear of inviting further abuse. Journalists and academics are often spammed with hundreds of messages when they write about the subject.

Some conspiracy theorists, however, change their tone when they are no longer writing to strangers on the internet.

Amy Hallas, a 44-year-old Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, woman, sent dozens of Facebook messages to the family of Braden Matejka, the Vegas victim who survived a gunshot in the head, accusing them of being liars and demanding proof of his injuries. Criticizing a GoFundMe page the family promoted to help raise funds for Matejka during his recovery, she called the family beyond fake, saying the victim was guilty of the worst acting she had ever seen.

In a phone call weeks later, Hallas claimed to the Guardian that she had never attacked the family and said she was just searching for answers.

Reminded that she had posted a meme on the Facebook page of Matejkas brother that called the shooting victim a lying cunt, she said she didnt remember and must have been caught up in the moment.

I do feel bad. They are people, just like everybody else. Who am I to be calling anybody any kind of names? she said. Asked if she regrets the attacks, she said: I 100% do, and if I could apologize to them, I would.

The burden shouldnt be on us

Andy Parker, whose daughter was murdered on live television, said he was not interested in understanding the psychology of those claiming a hoax. He said he just wanted the videos off of YouTube. His first step was calling a customer service hotline for Google, which owns YouTube. A young man from Manila, he remembered, explained how he could flag the videos to be taken down.

Parker began the work, but after marking about 10 videos, he said, he had to stop. There was footage of his daughter being killed all over the internet, but Parker had never wanted to see it himself. He had changed his YouTube settings so the videos would not automatically play, but even looking at their thumbnail images was too much. I just couldnt do it.

The situation made him angry. Couldnt a company as powerful as Google, he thought, provide a better way to combat conspiracy theorist harassment than asking the father of a murdered journalist to clean up YouTube himself?

The internet as we know it is founded on a simple legal principle: companies like YouTube and Twitter are not legally responsible for the content shared on their websites. But the tech corporations have been forced over the years to craft their own ethical standards, defining what kind of material is prohibited.

Still, the companies have not shifted far from their core objectives of maximizing engagement prompting users to share and consume high volumes of content and enabling the instantaneous purchasing of ads without scrutiny.

The resulting algorithms are a perfect match for conspiracy theorists.

Some grieving parents have turned the grim task of tracking down hoax theory videos into a daily job. In 2014, Pozner, whose child was killed in the Sandy Hook massacre, founded the Honr Network, an organization dedicated to holding conspiracy theorists accountable. Hundreds of volunteers now help monitor the offensive content online.

With YouTube, Pozner uses different tools to argue that videos should be taken down: invasion of privacy, harassment and, in some cases, copyright infringement.

Often, it feels like hes arguing with a robot one that makes arbitrary decisions. Sometimes, the flagging process gets results. Other times the videos remain. The whole system, Pozner said, was frustratingly opaque.

If Ill report something for privacy, theyll [sometimes] say: Weve decided not to take any action on this. Who do you appeal to, who do you contact, who do you pick up the phone and call?

Parker talked to Pozner about his work, and Honr began flagging the Alison Parker hoax videos. But the conversation only reinforced Parkers frustration with Google.

Andy Parker, Alisons father, calls for action on gun control. YouTube was not acting like a human company, he said. Photograph: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

I am so grateful to these folks that are doing this but the problem is, to me, we shouldnt have to be doing this piecemeal, Parker said. Its like trying to kill roaches with a fly swatter. You kill a couple and a bunch of them come back. What were doing is demanding that they be responsible corporate citizens.

Parker said YouTube should pay a team of humans to proactively remove content: The burden shouldnt be on us to prove that this content is bad Theyre not acting like a human company.

Parker finally had a call with Google executives in October to discuss the problem, and he said he was now more optimistic that the company would work closely with the Honr network to address harassment.

Its true that it might not be a huge expense for Google to hire one person to deal with Sandy Hook and similar hoax theory videos, said David Karger, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer scientist, who researches online harassment. But, he said, would they need to hire someone else to handle all the white supremacist harassment, and someone else to handle all the gender harassment? Its an issue of scale.

YouTube, however, has no policy against conspiracy or hoax theory videos in general. In the wake of concerns from Parker and Pozner earlier this year, it clarified internally that hoax theory videos that targeted the victims or family members of public acts of violence would count as harassment, and could be taken down.

Our hearts go out to the families who have suffered these incredibly tragic losses, a YouTube spokesperson said in an email. We recognize the challenging issues raised by the victims families, and that is why we updated the application of our harassment policy last summer. As a result, we have removed hundreds of these videos as they have been flagged to us and we will continue to do so.

Struggling to move on

Cronk, the Vegas survivor and target of crisis actor hoaxes, said he tried to ignore the slander and attacks and focus on moving forward. He said he felt an obligation to live his life to the fullest, considering how lucky he was to survive.

Im not going to let it define who I am, he said.

YouTube and Google, however, appear to have other plans for him. After the Guardian sent a number of videos targeting Cronk to company spokespeople, several were removed. Some of the worst ones, however, remained on the site.

They are a business. In my mind, if people can slander people and they are allowing this kind of stuff there they should absolutely be held responsible, Cronk said.

One video that YouTube did not remove picks apart every comment and expression in one of his first television interviews as signs of his bad acting skills. In the video, titled Las Vegas Hero Eyewitness or Actor???, the narrator viciously mocks Cronk for appearing to smile in the interview.

Yeah, Mike Cronk, and Im totally sure thats your real name too, wink wink. It was so horrific, so horrific that you had to smirk and smile on camera as you duped us with delight, the narrator shouts. Huh, silly boy!

Despite multiple inquiries from the Guardian over several weeks, YouTube still suggests that Mike Cronk is a crisis actor in its search bar. The Eyewitness or Actor? video, viewed by more than 15,000 people, continues to be one of the top search results.

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Those who lived to describe the mass shooting face flood of abuse on social media accusing them of being actors, as hoax claims flourish on YouTube

Braden Matejka survived a bullet to the head in the Las Vegas massacre. Then, the death threats started coming.

You are a lying piece of shit and I hope someone truly shoots you in the head, a commenter wrote to Matejka on Facebook, one week after a gunman killed 58 people and injured hundreds more. Your soul is disgusting and dark! You will pay for the consequences! said another. A Facebook meme quickly spread with a photo of him after the shooting, captioned: Im a lying cunt!

The 30-year-old victim who narrowly escaped death in the worst mass shooting in modern US history has faced a torrent of online abuse and harassment, forcing him to shut down his social media accounts and disappear from the internet. The bullying, taunting and graphic threats have also spread to his family and friends.

Abusive comments have attacked Matejka on Facebook. Photograph: Facebook/Screengrab

There are all these families dealing with likely the most horrific thing theyll ever experience, and they are also met with hate and anger and are being attacked online about being a part of some conspiracy, said Taylor Matejka, Bradens brother, who shared with the Guardian dozens of screenshots of the abuse. Its madness. I cant imagine the thought process of these people. Do they know that we are actual people?

Conspiracy theorists some of whom claim that the government staged the shooting on 1 October or that the tragedy was a hoax have targeted survivors and victims loved ones, spamming every social media platform with misinformation and abuse. On Facebook and YouTube in particular, users have published viral posts and videos calling people like Braden crisis actors, alleging they were hired to pose as victims.

While fringe conspiracies have often emerged after national tragedies and major historical events, social media has dramatically expanded the scope and scale of the problem, making it easy for false claims to reach massive audiences and giving trolls easy access to targets online.

It makes you angry, said Rob McIntosh, 52, who was shot in the chest and arm in Las Vegas and has since been accused of being an actor who faked his injuries. Youve already been through something thats traumatic and terrible, and you have someone who is attacking your honesty. You dont even have the opportunity to respond.

I hope someone comes after you

Braden Matejka, from British Columbia, Canada, traveled to Las Vegas with his girlfriend, Amanda Homulos, to celebrate his 30th birthday at a country music festival. Police say the gunman, Stephen Paddock, whose motives remain unknown, fired into the crowd of people at the outdoor concert from a 32nd-floor room of the Mandalay Bay hotel.

As the couple was fleeing, Braden was knocked down by a bullet in the back of his head, landing on his face. He was covered in blood, but remained responsive, and he and his girlfriend, who was not hit, quickly made it inside the car of another concertgoer, who drove them to a hospital.

The wound to his skull was not life-threatening, and days later, the couple gave an emotional interview on camera to the Associated Press about their escape.

Im just so grateful that were still here, and I cant even express how sorry I am for people that didnt make it out, Homulos said through sobs. In another video interview, published by the Guardian and other news organizations, Braden explained that the bullet was very close to killing him: If it was an inch over it wouldve been in my brain, and I wouldve been gone.

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‘If it was an inch over I would have been gone’: Las Vegas survivor recounts being shot video

His brother Taylor and others began promoting on Facebook a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for Braden, who was suffering from bleeding and swelling in his brain and blurred vision. The heavy-duty mechanic and welder also had to take time off work.

Friends and relatives posted messages of love and support in response. But soon, the nasty messages began to arrive, with strangers sending comments at such a rapid rate that it was hard for the family to keep up.

Obviously a TERRIBLE CRISIS ACTOR, wrote a Facebook user named Samantha. HES SCAMMING THE PUBLIC This was a government set up.


Youll pay on the other side, said a user named Mach. Others called Braden a LYING BASTARD, scumbag govt actor and fuckin FRAUD, while one user named Josh wrote: I hope someone comes after you and literally beats the living fuck outa you.

Taylor, 28, recalled: I was just blown away by what these people were saying.

One woman posted 26 consecutive messages under Taylors request for donations for his brother, saying she had been a nurse for more than two decades and that she was certain Braden was a liar and con artist.

Chased off the internet

Brothers Taylor (left) and Braden Matejka. Photograph: Courtesy of Taylor Matejka

Braden tried to defend himself, but eventually gave up and deleted his Facebook and Instagram accounts. Some said the decision was further evidence that he was part of a government-organized hoax a staged fake shooting meant to help push gun control policies.

Taylor said he tried to respond to the conspiracy theorists, but nothing seemed to work: Id be happy to talk to these people, but it seems theres no reasoning. A really sad part of this is that a lot of these people think theyre fighting the good fight and exposing truth.

By some measures, YouTube seems to be making the problem worse. This week, a search for Braden Matejka on the Google-owned video platform suggested a video titled How To Spot Crisis Actors & Fakest News Ever as one of the top results. Thats despite the fact that YouTube said it was immediately changing its algorithm to better promote legitimate sources after Las Vegas victims criticized the site for spreading conspiracies.

Mike Cronk, another Las Vegas survivor, was also widely targeted by conspiracy theorists after he did interviews with ABC and NBC news stations. So many users on YouTube have published videos calling him a fake that a search for his name autocompleted to Mike Cronk crisis actor and Mike Cronk fake. The top three search results for Mike Cronk Las Vegas were conspiracy videos, promoted higher than the ABC News segment.

YouTube search results for Mike Cronk primarily suggest conspiracy theories. Photograph: YouTube/Screengrab

McIntosh, Cronks friend who is slowly recovering from his bullet wounds, said the websites bore some responsibility. If theyre putting it online and promoting it, they should be accountable for that. They are providing a service they need to police it.

Taylor said he recognized that it was difficult for social media sites to monitor and censor content, but that at the least, they should should prioritize verified news sources above false content: People should be able to discover the truth first.

After the Guardian inquired about specific videos attacking survivors, YouTube took down one of them targeting Braden Matejka for violating its harassment and bullying policy, but did not remove the others.

We work to quickly remove videos violating our policies when they are flagged, a spokesperson said in an email.

Taylor Matejka said he tried to laugh off the conspiracy theorists targeting his family, but given the killings in Las Vegas, it was hard to ignore the death threats.

If you want to spend your whole life searching conspiracies on the internet, youre free to do that, he said, but it shouldnt come at a cost to the victims wellbeing.

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Comics including Jimmy Kimmel discussed Trump in Puerto Rico, and the coverage of the Las Vegas attack, the deadliest mass shooting in US history

Late-night hosts on Tuesday addressed Donald Trumps trip to Puerto Rico to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, as well as calls from Fox News hosts not to politicize the deadly shooting in Las Vegas.

Thirteen days after Hurricane Maria, yet another disaster struck Puerto Rico, Stephen Colbert began. Donald Trump visited the island. But before the president left for San Juan, he gave this objective assessment of his administrations disaster relief effort.

Colbert, showing footage of the president grading his administrations performance in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico an A+, responded: You know you cant give yourself an A+. Thats not how grades work.

Trump addressed the devastation this hurricane caused to him, Colbert continued, showing Trump, speaking before the press in Puerto Rico, saying that the damage caused by Maria has thrown our budget out of whack.

The budget is out of whack? Colbert said. Thats like a fireman rescuing you from a burning building and saying, You understand what our water bill is going to be, right?

Of course, Trump didnt just go to Puerto Rico to talk, he also handed out much-needed supplies in the Trumpiest way possible.

The host showed clips of the president nonchalantly tossing paper towel rolls to a crowd of Puerto Ricans awaiting disaster relief.

After that he went to a hospital and distributed antibiotics with a T-shirt cannon.

Jimmy Kimmel also discussed Trumps visit to Puerto Rico. The president was in Puerto Rico today to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, Kimmel began. He likes to bring Melania to these kind of things in case he encounters situations that require showing concern for other human beings. That becomes her job.

He continued: Trump has said some not-so-nice things about Puerto Rico over the past week, including a tweet where he said Puerto Ricans want everything to be done for them. Says the guy whos never carried a piece of luggage in his entire life. But at a news conference this morning, he regaled those who still dont have power on 95% of their island with hilarity like this.

Kimmel then showed the now-infamous clip of Trump claiming relief efforts for Puerto Rico have messed with the federal budget.

Next time you allow a storm to ravage your island, think about the cost, Kimmel joked. He really puts the ass in compassion, doesnt he?

The president didnt just pitch in to help with his words, he also took some time at a relief center, where this actually happened, Kimmel continued, showing Trump throwing paper towels as if shooting a basketball. What is he doing? Who does that? What planet is this man from?

Kimmel went on: Trump also had an uncomfortable meeting with the mayor of San Juan who he criticized via tweet. While the president has been very critical of some in Puerto Rico, theres one person he had very nice things to say about.

The host then showed, like Colbert, footage of Trump claiming hed received good marks, done a great job and made tremendous strides on his efforts in Puerto Rico.

Its amazing how hes able to get those tiny hands around his back to pat it, Kimmel concluded.

Finally, Trevor Noah of Comedy Centrals The Daily Show addressed the coverage of the Las Vegas shooting on the Fox News Network, where calls not to politicize the tragedy have mounted as hosts try to deflect from growing concerns about lax gun control laws.

Today, we learned more details about the shooter, Noah began. He was a 64-year-old man from Florida with no criminal record and he owned 42 guns. And apparently he was a multimillionaire, which means right now he doesnt fit any profile of any mass shooter. And you know whos having a hard time processing all of that information? The good people at Fox News.

Noah then showed a clip of Fox News host Brian Kilmeade claiming we dont know enough about him to hate him yet.

How do you hate someone who killed 59 people?, Noah responded. Because hes not Muslim. He wasnt known to be mentally ill. He doesnt kneel for the anthem. Hes just a rich white guy who shot people at a country music concert.

Trevor Noah on the shooting in Las Vegas

Since Sundays shootings didnt fit any of Fox News established narratives, they couldnt politicize it, the host continued, showing clips from the network of hosts taking offense at the suggestion that the Las Vegas shooting should lead to conversations about gun control. And if they couldnt politicize it, then I guess neither should anyone else.

I like how Fox News says, Please dont politicize this today, as if theres any time theyd be willing to talk about gun control, Noah said. What kind of terrible people would push a political agenda the day after a mass shooting, a shooting like Orlando?

Noah then showed clips from the networks coverage of last summers massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, after which Fox anchors and pundits fervently called for more immigration reform and referred to radical Islamic terrorism.

So, clearly Foxs whole dont politicize it is BS, or maybe just a way to buy time while theyre figuring out how to politicize it, Noah said, showing Fox host Jesse Waters claiming that NFL players kneeling were disrespecting the police officers who defend us from mass shooters like Stephen Paddock.

Wow, did this guy just find a way to use a mass shooting to pivot back to the NFL argument?

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Some may accuse Genghis Cohen of hypocrisy, given he offers access to full or semi-automatic rifles, but hes speaking out in the wake of the mass shooting

The owner of Machine Gun Vegas, a shooting range that gives customers the real feel of what its like to clear a room with just a pull of the trigger, was on hand to personally explain to some Chinese customers why they were still not open on Tuesday, 48 hours after the citys mass shooting.

We just dont think its appropriate, said Genghis Cohen, whose shooting range is typically open to children as young as 10, and also arranges trips where clients fly across the desert in a helicopter shooting out of an M60 belt-fed machine gun.

What constitutes appropriate is, of course, a matter of opinion, and Cohen said the company has been targeted with fuck you hate mail from seething gun enthusiasts who do not believe he should have closed for two days.

He is, however, undeterred, and has been moved by Sundays massacre to cross a rubicon and enter territory rarely touched by owners of gun ranges: actively calling for gun control.

One guy, he said, sat in a hotel room with 23 guns and managed to kill or injure 600 people. They say he was using 60- to 100-round magazines. Why does a 64-year-old man, who is not in the military or in the police department, why does he need a gun that can basically fire fully automatically?

Some might accuse Cohen of hypocrisy, given his company offers clients access to more than a dozen different types of full or semi-automatic rifles, several of which are similar to those used by Paddock to kill 58 people and injure more than 500.

Genghis Cohen. Photograph: Courtesy of Machine Gun Vegas

But in an interview with the Guardian, Cohen, a longtime Las Vegas resident who looked visibly shaken by the ordeal of recent days, said he felt he was doing the right thing in the aftermath of the attack, which has affected several people he knows.

Among them, a friends daughter was was shot in the leg and is recovering from surgery, and an employee whose friend from high school was killed. Many of Sundays deaths and injuries, he said, would have been avoidable with stricter rules regulating access to firearms. If we can change laws to make people safer, then why would we not do that?

Other shooting ranges offering automatic firearms experiences in the vicinity of the Mandalay Bay casino and hotel, the complex Paddock used to fire at thousands of country music fans at a venue below, were open on Tuesday.

Bullets and Burgers, a company that picks up Las Vegas tourists from hotels and ferries them to the same shooting range in the Arizona desert where, three years ago, a nine-year-old girl lost control of an Uzi machine gun and shot dead her instructor, said it was offering its usual packages (which costs $199, and includes a complimentary beer, fries and soda).

A makeshift memorial on Las Vegas Boulevard near the Mandalay Bay hotel. Photograph: Otto/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

The closest range to the Mandalay resort, the Range 702, which sells a machine gun adrenaline rush for $599.50, was open for business, as was Battlefield Vegas, where an employee at the desk explained the process was straightforward. Like a restaurant: come in, order what you want, we give you the gun, go shoot, he said.

Cohen said he was aware his rivals were open, but said it was right to close for longer than just 24 hours and talk frankly about gun legislation. Someones got to say something because if we dont we end up looking like a bunch of cockroaches scurrying for cover, he said.

The 47-year-old former nightclub owner said his opinions about gun control were not new, and were born in part from his upbringing in New Zealand, a country with safer gun rules. He said he had also been affected by late-night host Jimmy Kimmels impassioned broadcast about the failure to enact gun restrictions.

But he said it was Sundays shooting that had done most to move him to be more outspoken about Americas gun laws, the shortcomings of the NRA and what he argues is the widely misunderstood second amendment.

Cohen disputed that his company, which offers gun-shooting packages with names like The Femme Fatale and Seal Team 6 to experience the pulse-pounding thrills of modern machine guns and bad-ass assault rifles, glorifies the kinds of weapons of mass murder used by Paddock.

We dont sensationalize guns, he said. Society sensationalizes guns.

Have you ever watched a movie with guns and violence in it? he continued. Have you ever played Call of Duty, or any video game where there is shooting involved? I havent heard one person who said no.

His business opened six years ago as a destination that marketed itself as a gun range where customers could be taught by stunning gun girls. But Cohen said the business strategy has evolved since then and the company now primarily markets its access to high-caliber weapons they cannot shoot elsewhere.

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He stressed that his range, which has some 26,000 customers a year, does not buy or sell weapons or ammunition. We are strictly, 100%, a tourist attraction, he said.

For less than $60, clients can stop by the range and fire an Uzi or AK-47. Children aged 10 and over are permitted to fire weapons but Cohen said instructors select smaller firearms.

Cohen said he believed Americans should be entitled to own firearms, but said there should be far more difficult tests and exams for licenses, and owners should be subject to regular testing and repeated, annual, background checks.

He also advocated closing the controversial loophole that allows people to buy weapons at some gun shows without background checks, and said there should be prohibitions on some firearms. Do I think a regular civilian needs to own an assault rifle, with accessories that make it practically automatic, with [60- to 100-]round capacity? No.

Nevada state laws that enable him and others to carry concealed handguns after a basic course were, he said, insane and way too lax.

While Cohen admires the work the National Rifle Association does to promote gun safety, he compared its lobbyists to witches around a cauldron and who respond to even basic gun reform with hysteria.

Their argument is that if we give up some of our rights, it opens the door to losing all of our rights, he said, adding: If the government doesnt regulate the industry, then we need to regulate ourselves.

After his comments were published, Cohen contacted the Guardian to say he had been subjected to further hate mail and he wished to clarify some of his remarks. He believes the industry may need to regulate itself, he said, because of the risk of dramatic over-regulation by government. He also said the additional tests and checks he advocated would relate specifically to concealed-carry license holders and not, for example, owners of hunting rifles.

In his original interview, Cohen, who is planning on opening a second gun range in Orlando, the city where the second-worst shooting on modern US history occurred earlier this year, denied that he was taking advantage of the very same lax gun laws he takes issue with.

Asked why he carries a handgun with him, he replied that America is a very dangerous place and added: If the government got rid of all the bad guys with guns, Id give my gun in tomorrow.

  • In an earlier version of this article, Cohen was quoted referring to 50-round capacity rifles. There are no 50-round magazines, and Cohen says he meant to say 60- to 100-round magazines.

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When I see my wife fighting for her life with a gunshot wound to her chest and my daughter was also shot, its pretty conclusive evidence that it did happen

YouTube is promoting conspiracy theory videos claiming that the Las Vegas mass shooting was a hoax, outraging survivors and victims families, in the latest case of tech companies spreading offensive propaganda.

Its only been days since a gunman inside the Mandalay Bay hotel opened fire on a music festival, killing 58 people and injuring nearly 500. But videos questioning whether the shooting really happened and claiming that the government has lied about basic facts have already garnered millions of views on YouTube and are continuing to run rampant.

It appears YouTube is actively helping these videos reach wide audiences. Searching for Las Vegas shooting videos immediately leads to a wide range of viral videos suggesting that law enforcement and others have purposefully deceived the public. Some label the tragedy a false flag, a term conspiracy theorists typically use to refer to mass shootings they say are staged by the government to advance gun control.

Stephen Melanson, whose wife and daughter were both shot in the attack, told the Guardian he believed YouTube should take down videos suggesting the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history had been faked.

When I see my wife fighting for her life with a gunshot wound to her chest, and my daughter was also shot, its pretty conclusive evidence that it did happen, said Melanson, whose wife, two daughters and two friends escaped alive from the Route 91 Harvest festival on Sunday night. My daughter texted me There is a shooting right in front of us and another text said, Mom is shot.

One video on the first page of results on the Google-owned video platform Wednesday morning was called Las Vegas Shooting Did It Actually Happen? and questioned whether the attack was fake and if victims were actors. It had more than 250,000 views after one day on the site.

YouTube told the Guardian that this footage and other specific conspiracy videos that appeared after a generic search did not violate its standards.

Complaints about YouTube enabling fake news follow reports that within hours of the tragedy, both Facebook and Google were actively promoting rightwing blogs and conspiracy sites, some misidentifying the shooter and claiming he was a Democrat who opposed Donald Trump. The proliferation of politicized propaganda comes as Silicon Valley corporations are facing increased scrutiny over their role in allowing false news to reach millions on their platforms, possibly assisting Russias efforts to interfere in US politics.

Conspiracy theories about mass shootings are nothing new in America, but some fear YouTubes popularity and algorithms are exacerbating the problem. In addition to automatically suggesting Las Vegas conspiracy footage to people with basic search requests, YouTube has promoted a wide variety of fake related content to people who watch a single propaganda video.

That means for some, YouTube is not suggesting reputable media sources and instead is exposing them to dozens of videos painting a picture of a vast conspiracy.

A scroll through YouTube results brought up a number of clips featuring conspiracy theories. Photograph: YouTube

After the Guardian watched one questionable video highlighted on the main Las Vegas shooting search page (from a gun rights advocate suggesting the facts didnt add up), YouTube promoted: Government Staged Las Vegas Mass Shooting (215,000 views), PROOF: MEDIA & LAW ENFORCEMENT ARE LYING ABOUT THE VEGAS SHOOTING (660,000 views) and PROOF Las Vegas shooting FALSE FLAG hoax (70,000 views). The site automatically played a Las Vegas HOAX Exposed video (150,000 views).

YouTube declined to comment on whether it has since removed footage, and its unclear if the site has taken any measures to slow the spread of Las Vegas fake news.

Its not a conspiracy. Its not a joke. It did happen. I was there, said Krista Metz, a witness and survivor who said she was standing close to the stage when the gunshots began. The 45-year-old California woman and her cousin were nearly trampled and ended up running for miles to escape, she said. We literally thought we were going to die.

Metz said she was frustrated with wild speculation online and in traditional news coverage: People are so crazy with their social media. Theyll believe everything they read Its horrible.

Even if YouTube and other sites remove the content, many have already viewed the videos and many more will continue to publish similar messages, Metz noted. There are so many people that post so many random things. How could they monitor it?

I just want the facts, she added.

YouTube released a short statement touting its ability to promote thousands of news publishers that present a variety of viewpoints, adding, When a major news event happens, these sources are presented on the YouTube homepage under Breaking News and featured in search results, with the label Top News.

False flag claims online can have devastating consequences for shooting survivors and families. The outspoken father of one of the children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting has faced frequent harassment and death threats from conspiracy theorists who believe the massacre was faked. One hoaxer who targeted him was recently sentenced to prison.

A woman who was badly injured in the Aurora theater shooting in Colorado also faced vicious online attacks and harassment, with critics trying to hack into her email account and accusing her of being a pawn in a gun control conspiracy.

Melanson whose family was rescued by a retired firefighter and whose wife remains in the hospital following a second surgery said he feared the propaganda on YouTube could impede law enforcement: Its hindering the investigation. They are creating false information that the authorities will still have to investigate. It really slows down the process.

The videos also hurt victims and survivors already struggling to cope with trauma, he added: Its not fair to all the family members who have been going through this.

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Just 48 hours before the devastating shooting that killed 58 and injured more than 500 people in Las Vegas, Eric Church jumped from the stage into the crowd at the country music festival, shaking hands and thanking fans for coming.

“Forty-eight hours later, those places that I stood was carnage,” said Church, who was a headliner at the festival. “Those were my people. Those were my fans.”

During his performance Wednesday at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, the country music singer gave an emotional tribute and dedicated a new song he wrote, “Why Not Me,” to the victims of the shooting.

“I didn’t want to be here tonight,” Church said, choking back tears. “I didn’t want to play guitar, and I didn’t want to walk on stage. But last night somebody sent me a video of Heather Melton.”

Melton appeared on CNN earlier this week to talk about her husband Sonny, who died in the shooting. During the interview, Melton wore one of Church’s tour t-shirts and said she and her husband went to Las Vegas to see Church. She also said they had planned to see Church at the Grand Ole Opry.

“If you’re there, if you’re in Row F, there’s some empty seats. That’s their seats,” Church said. “The reason I’m here tonight is because of Heather Melton, her husband Sunny, who died, and every person that was there.”

Church recalled seeing his fans in Las Vegas, holding their hands in the air and raising their cowboy boots during his song “These Boots.”

“What I saw, that moment in time is frozen,” Church said. “There’s no amount of bullets that can take that away.”

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Key information about the attack that left at least 58 dead and scores injured at a festival near the Mandalay Bay casino

  • At least 59 people have been killed and at least 527 injured in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. A gunman fired on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas from an overlooking hotel.
  • Police have named the suspect as Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old local man. They believe he shot and killed himself on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino.
  • At least 17 guns were found in his hotel room, according to official statements from law enforcement officials.

Broken windows on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay. Photograph: John Locher/AP

  • An additional 18 firearms, explosives and several thousands of rounds of ammunition were found at the suspects home in Mesquite, Nevada, officials said after authorities executed a search warrant early on Monday morning. Police are preparing to raid another property of the suspect in Reno, Nevada.
  • The FBI says Paddock had no known links to any international terror groups, and was believed to have acted alone.
  • Marilou Danley, a 62-year-old Australian woman identified as Paddocks room-mate and elsewhere as his girlfriend, was initially named as a person of interest, but police later said she was out of the country at the time of the attack and cleared her of any involvement.
  • Paddocks brother said Stephen had no background with weapons. No religious affiliation, no political affiliation, he just hung out, he told television networks. Hes just a guy who lived in a house in Mesquite, drove down and gambled in Las Vegas.
  • Concertgoers reported seeing muzzle flashes from the upper floors of the Mandalay Bay hotel and videos of the aftermath show hundreds of people fleeing in panic as the gunfire continued. About 22,000 people were attending the festival.
  • Jason Aldean, the country music singer who was performing when the shooting took place, described the scene as beyond horrific. He said he and his crew were safe, but added: It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night.
  • Some flights have resumed at the citys McCarran airport after all planes were temporarily grounded on Sunday evening.
  • Donald Trump addressed the shootings from the White House Monday morning:

My fellow Americans. we are joined together today in sadness, shock and grief. Last night a gunman opened fire on a large crowd at a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada. He brutally murdered more than 50 people and wounded hundreds more. It was an act of pure evil. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are working closely with local authorities to assist with the investigation and they will provide updates as to the investigation and how it develops.

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We must start talking openly about how to solve the gun violence, crisis writes Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

After the largest and deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, it was inevitable: pundits and politicians are saying its too soon to talk about the causes of gun violence. But for the hundreds of people shot at a country music concert last night in Las Vegas, its not too soon its too late.

After a plane crash, no one says we cant talk about how to make planes safer. After a massive building fire, no one says we cant talk about ways to prevent fires. Yet after 59 Americans are shot and killed and over 500 are hospitalized at what should have been a safe and fun event, its too soon, according to the chattering class, to talk about why.

Not for me not any more. Im going to scream and kick and shout until Congress acts to make Americans safer. Because when guns are available to anyone, anywhere, our families are unsafe everywhere. In fact, Las Vegas was at least the eighth mass shooting (killing four or more people) in the United States this year, and the 162nd since 2009.

And even though most Americans agree with me 90% support multiple commonsense gun safety policies our laws reflect the extreme positions of well-financed gun industry lobbyists. Thats why the open carry of firearms is legal in Nevada. Thats why 93 Americans are killed with guns every day. And thats why Americas gun homicide rate is 25 times higher than the average of other developed nations.

The National Rifle Association opposes commonsense gun safety laws, even though they are remarkably effective at preventing shooting deaths. Across the board, stronger gun laws correlate with lower rates of gun deaths, even after adjusting for sociological and demographic factors, according to a Harvard medical school research. In other words: when we pass real gun reform, fewer people die from gun violence.

Gun laws work, and they are worth fighting for. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the organization I founded, has millions of supporters in chapters in all 50 states, linking arms to protect our children and communities. While the National Rifle Association is a powerful foe, experience shows that grassroots activism can counter their deep pockets.

Our volunteers fight and we win. Last month in Rhode Island, for example, our local activists helped pass legislation to keep guns away from domestic abusers, adding to the half dozen other states that have enacted similar laws. We can continue to win victories like this across this country if everyone gets off the sidelines and joins us.

Heres how Americans can act today.

First, Congress is considering legislation that would gut silencer safety laws and make it easy for convicted felons and domestic abusers to buy gun silencers which distort the sound of a gun and make it harder for law enforcement officers to stop a shooter without a background check.

In Las Vegas, being able to hear gunshots helped first responders recognize the shooters location and end the incident before he could hurt even more people. Its no surprise, then, that many of the nations top law enforcement organizations oppose efforts to roll back silencer safety laws.

The gun lobby is also gearing up for their concealed carry reciprocity campaign, in support of legislation that would force each state to recognize concealed-carry standards from every other state, even though states have dramatically varied standards.

Countless people would be able to carry hidden, loaded guns in all 50 states, with no background check or gun safety training. These extreme measures would defy the pleas of millions of Americans crying out for sanity and safety. Its important for Americans to call their members of Congress now and tell them to reject these bills.

Our country is at a defining moment: do we want to keep experiencing these horrific shooting tragedies because the gun lobby has convinced Congress that we should allow guns for anyone, anywhere, any time no questions asked? Or will we demand safety in our daily lives at church, school, concerts and movie theaters? Because we do have a choice, and I urge every person who is as disgusted and horrified by this routine violence to make their voice heard.

As we grieve the horrific tragedy in Las Vegas, we must start talking openly and honestly about how to solve our nations gun violence crisis. For Congress, that means demanding they reject National Rifle Association leaders radical and deadly agenda. In Nevada, that means elected officials enforcing the law their constituents enacted last November.

Doing what weve been doing for decades essentially letting the gun lobby write our countrys gun laws has led to America having the highest rate of gun homicides of any developed nation. Clearly its time to do exactly the opposite of what gun lobbyists have instructed us to do: use our voices and votes to save lives. We cant be silent anymore.

  • Shannon Watts is the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and a mom of five kids. She lives in Colorado

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Gunman Stephen Paddock, 64, found dead after police stormed hotel room, where they recovered more than 10 guns

At least 59 people were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history on Sunday night, when 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 527 people were injured, Las Vegas police said, as casualty figures continued to rise. The death toll surpassed the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in June 2016, when 49 people were killed.

The suspected gunman was identified as Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old local man who police believe booked into the Mandalay Bay on 28 September. He was found dead after officers stormed his room, where they recovered 17 guns.

A brother of the suspect living in central Florida, Eric Paddock, said he was dumbfounded. Hes not an avid gun guy at all, the brother said. The fact that he had those kind of weapons is just he has no military background or anything like that.

Speaking at the White House, Donald Trump called the attack an act of pure evil. He did not discuss possible motives for the attack, saying federal and local authorities would provide updates. Nor did he call for new gun control measures or other government action to confront the US epidemic of mass shootings.

America comes together as one and it always has, Trump said. We call upon the bonds that unite us: our faith, our family and our shared values.

Trump said he would visit Las Vegas on Wednesday and directed that flags outside government buildings be flown at half-staff. He still planned to visit hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico on Tuesday.

The FBI said it had found no connection with an international terrorist group. The Clark County sheriff, Joe Lombardo, said police had found nothing to suggest a motive for the attack.

Weve checked all the federal databases and Nevada databases and we have no knowledge of this individual, he said. I cant get into the mind of a psychopath at this point.

The Mandalay Bay hotel sits across Las Vegas Boulevard from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival site, where people were watching the final performances on Sunday night when the attack began. Two off-duty officers were among the dead, and the overall toll could rise, Lombardo said.

Quick-response police teams found the gunmans room when a smoke detector was activated by the gunfire, police said. The suspect had used a hammer or similar device to break hotel room windows to clear his line of fire, Lombardo said. Police said the suspect killed himself before they entered the room.

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. Ive never run that hard or been that scared in my whole life.

Desiree Price, who was visiting 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 didnt stop so we all ran we kept going.

Las Vegas map

Marilou Danley, a 62-year-old Australian woman identified as Paddocks room-mate and elsewhere as his girlfriend, was initially named as a person of interest, but police later said she was out of the country at the time of the attack and cleared her of any involvement.

Local officials urged residents to make blood donations. We need blood, so if anybody could contribute blood, anybody in the Las Vegas area or locally could do that, said Nevadas governor, Brian Sandoval. Guests at the hotel were allowed to return to their rooms late on Monday morning after being sheltered overnight in a large arena nearby.

The shooting began during a performance by the country music star Jason Aldean. As the 22,000 people in the crowd began to run, 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 Aldeans, 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 said.

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 and still shaking with fear.

An injured person is carried from the scene. Photograph: David Becker/Getty Images

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 didnt want to get up because I didnt want to get mistaken for a bad guy and get shot. So I was just huddling behind a table.

I saw a couple [of] 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.

Flights resumed at the citys McCarran international airport on Monday morning after all planes were temporarily grounded on Sunday evening.

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.

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