Vice President Mike Pence in Las Vegas: ‘We are united in our grief’
The day was meant for prayer, reflection, and most of all, slowly continuing to heal.
On Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence visited Las Vegas, offering prayers and encouragement for a community reeling days after a gunman went on a killing rampage at an outdoor country music festival along the Strip.
Pence, flanked by several local elected officials, including Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, spoke from a lectern inside City Hall, where he emphasized that the country stands united with the Las Vegas community.
“No evil — no act of violence — will ever diminish the strength and goodness of the American people,” said Pence, whose visit came days after President Trump arrived here to meet with victims and first responders. “We are united as one nation, as one people, with one voice — united in our grief, united in our support for those who have suffered, and united in our resolve to end such evil in our time.”
He added, “when one part of America cries out for help we always come together to answer the call.… Today we are all Vegas strong.”
The vice president’s remarks came at the conclusion of a unity prayer walk among local elected officials and residents in memory of the 58 people killed and nearly 500 injured on Oct. 1 at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. The gunman, Stephen Paddock, 64, fired hundreds of rounds at the crowd from his 32nd-floor Mandalay Bay hotel room.
Amid the prayers, tears and strides toward healing, local and federal law enforcement officials pressed ahead Saturday with their investigation.
Authorities continued to look for a motive as to why Paddock, known as a professional gambler who frequented casinos here and in Mesquite, Nev., about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, carried out one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. Billboards have been placed around the city asking residents to contact authorities if they have any information about the shooting.
At the site of the shooting — a parcel of land along Las Vegas Boulevard — federal authorities began to haul away piles of backpacks, purses and lawn chairs that were left behind as thousands of concertgoers fled the area amid a torrent of gunfire.
For many, Saturday was a day to reflect, move ahead and celebrate Las Vegas, a global hub for tourism which last year saw a record 43 million visitors.
A short drive from the site of the shooting, 58 white crosses bearing the names of those killed were placed near the renowned “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. Locals and tourists alike laid flowers and teddy bears in honor of the victims, 36 women and 22 men.
Goodman, who has served as mayor since 2011, said her city would not be “defined by hate and violence.”
“We will not be defined by anger and we will not be defined by fear,” she added. “We will be defined by our humanity. We will be defined by our unity, our compassion for each other.”
Others who joined Pence and Goodman at City Hall included Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) and Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, and Dean Heller, a Republican.
Last week, Titus, whose district spans the Strip, announced legislation that would ban possession of bump stocks, a device that makes semiautomatic firearms behave like a fully automatic ones. Authorities have said Paddock used the device during the shooting. In recent days, Democrats and Republicans alike have signaled support for banning these devices, and even the National Rifle Assn. has said more regulation is needed for bump stocks.
Titus said Saturday that more action must take place on the part of elected officials to prevent future mass shootings like the one in her district.
“Over the past week our eyes have brimmed with tears, but our chests has also swelled with pride,” she said. “Let us pray for those who are in power that they will have the wisdom, power and resolve to come together — end the gun violence that plagues our nation.”
Montero reported from Las Vegas and Lee from Los Angeles.
5:35 p.m.: This article was updated to with more information about the investigation.
1:55 p.m.: This article was updated to with remarks from Vice President Mike Pence in Las Vegas.
12:55 p.m.: This article was updated with Pence’s arrival in Las Vegas.
This article was originally published at 10:25 a.m.
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