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At least 58 people were killed and more than 500 others injured after a gunman opened fire Sunday night at a country music festival across the street from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, authorities said.

What you need to know:

  • The mystery of Stephen Paddock -- gambler, real estate investor, mass killer
  • Who were the victims? A special education teacher. An off-duty police officer. 'The best dad.'
  • How a Las Vegas concert went from melody to mayhem

Trump calls for unity and prayer in the face of 'pure evil'

 (Carolyn Kaster / AP)
(Carolyn Kaster / AP)

President Trump called for prayer and unity in the face of "an act of pure evil" in a somber address from the White House Monday, hours after a mass shooting at a Las Vegas concert that killed dozens of people.

The shooter “brutally murdered more than 50 people and wounded hundreds more. It was an act of pure evil," he said.

Trump praised first responders, saying “the speed with which they acted was miraculous and prevented further loss of life.”

He spoke specifically to the victims and their families suffering the loss of “a parent, a child, a brother or sister.”

“We cannot fathom their pain," he said. "We cannot imagine their loss.”

He said he would travel to Las Vegas on Wednesday.

The comments came after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, with more than 50 dead, and one of the biggest tests for Trump during a period of national concern and grief.

During such tragedies, which have visited every modern presidency, Americans typically expect a period of unity as the president seeks to provide comfort.

Trump, reading from a teleprompter in the Diplomatic Reception Room, appeared downcast as he read. He said many Americans would be feeling anger and conceded that "the answers do not come easily." But he urged resiliency. 

“Our unity cannot be shattered by evil. Our bonds cannot be broken by violence,” he said. “It is our love that defines us today and always will forever.”

The president quoted scripture, Psalm 34:18: "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

The tone was a far different one than Americans are used to seeing from Trump, who tends toward provocation in even the most dire tragedies. 

Trump was a candidate during the June 2016 Pulse night club shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people. At the time, he tweeted extensively, criticizing President Obama and Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival.

"What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning," Trump tweeted following Orlando. "Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban. Must be tough."

He also used the event to vindicate his false assertion that Muslims in New Jersey held mass celebrations following the Sept. 11 attacks. "I was right," he tweeted after Orlando.

By contrast, after the school shooting at Newtown, Ct., in December 2012, Trump initially praised the response by Obama, putting aside his political differences.

"President Obama spoke for me and every American in his remarks in #Newtown Connecticut," Trump tweeted at the time.

8:18 a.m.: This post was updated with additional quotes from President Trump and additional background.

 

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