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Newsletter: Today: ‘It Was Like a War Zone’

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA -- MONDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2017: Police cordon off the crime scene area where a mass sh
Police cordon off the area where a mass shooting at a concert killed 59 and injured more than 500 in Las Vegas.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Stories of horror and heroism emerged in Las Vegas after the deadliest U.S. mass shooting in nearly a century, while the search for a motive continues.

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‘It Was Like a War Zone’

When the shooting began, Travis Phippen, an off-duty emergency medical technician who was attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert, knew what to do: Check on the victims, and bind their wounds with clothing. Then he came upon his father. Phippen tried to plug the bullet hole in his father’s back with a finger as he carried him. It would not save his life. In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting that killed 59 people and hurt 527, witnesses described scenes of panic, bloodshed and heroics. As the injured were taken to the area’s only Level 1 trauma center, surgeons tried to repair complex wounds from high-velocity rifle rounds. “You had people with lung contusions, liver and spleen contusions, broken bones,” Dr. Jay Coates said. “It was like a war zone.” Here is the latest.

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Why Did This Happen?

Those who knew the 64-year-old shooter say he showed no signs of mental illness, extreme political views or an unhealthy interest in guns. He liked to gamble and seemed to have plenty of money. Though his father was a notorious bank robber, the son had grown up to hold jobs such as a mail carrier and an accountant. Yet authorities say they found 23 weapons in his Las Vegas hotel room, at least one of which had been modified to make it tantamount to an automatic weapon, and 19 more guns in his house in Mesquite, Nev. In his car were chemicals that can be used to manufacture an explosive device. As to his motive, it remained a mystery.

Portraits of the Fallen

Sandy Casey was a special education teacher at Manhattan Beach Middle School. Charleston Hartfield was an off-duty Las Vegas police officer. Thomas Day Jr. “was the best dad,” accompanied by his four children, all in their 20s and 30s, at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. These are the stories of those who were killed and have been publicly identified.

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A lone vase of flowers left on Las Vegas Boulevard and Reno Avenue for the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

More About the Shooting

-- President Trump spoke somberly to the nation about the violence, but the angry and partisan disagreement over guns continues, as Cathleen Decker writes.

-- Some say the nation could look to California, a state where previous mass shootings have sparked laws to combat gun violence, for guidance.

-- Las Vegas, the mecca of fantasy, got a grotesque reminder that no place in America is safe from guns, says columnist Robin Abcarian.

-- Facebook and Google pledged to stop fake news. So why did they promote Las Vegas-shooting hoaxes?

The State (and Non-State) of Puerto Rico

President Trump is traveling to Puerto Rico today to meet with officials and survey the post-Hurricane Maria damage. For many Puerto Ricans, the slow arrival of federal assistance has led not only to desperate pleas for help but also has revived a long-standing debate over the territory’s relationship to the rest of the U.S. and what could be done to address the inequalities. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello says he plans to raise that issue with Trump, even though a path to statehood isn’t clear.

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King of the Heartbreakers

Tom Petty was one of rock’s most beloved figures, respected by peers and fans alike. With his long blond hair and nasal voice, Petty had a “a seemingly bottomless bag of tunes that felt as though he’d written them to soundtrack the specifics of your life,” pop music critic Mikael Wood writes in his appreciation of the singer, guitarist and songwriter who died at age 66. Just last month, when Petty and his band, the Heartbreakers, wrapped up a 40th anniversary tour at the Hollywood Bowl, he said: “Why would we quit? The band is playing better than ever.”

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Tom Petty in his home studio in 2014.

MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- “An act of pure evil”: President Trump’s remarks about the Las Vegas shooting.

-- San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz says she wants to focus on aid to Puerto Rico, not politics.

-- As an Oct. 5 deadline looms, legal service providers are ramping up DACA renewal efforts.

CALIFORNIA

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-- Irma Garcia of Whittier was shot by a sniper in 1966. The Las Vegas massacre brings her pain, and anger about inaction on guns, she tells columnist Steve Lopez.

-- Los Angeles is suing the U.S. Department of Justice over its policy of conditioning federal funds on cooperation with immigration agents.

-- Rave company Insomniac and its chief executive have agreed to settle a civil lawsuit filed by the L.A. Memorial Coliseum Commission. It will result in a payment of $3.5 million to the government agency.

-- Rep. Ami Bera’s father, who was convicted of running a money laundering scheme to help finance his son’s campaigns, has been released from federal custody.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- Jimmy Kimmel delivered a heartfelt monologue in response to the mass shooting in his hometown of Las Vegas.

-- Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director Gustavo Dudamel is exploring Mozart’s final year with compositions from 1791.

-- Fyre Festival organizer Billy McFarland pleaded not guilty to fraud charges over the Bahamian music event whose failure went viral earlier this year.

-- How “Curb Your Enthusiasm” came up with that fatwa storyline.

CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

Nearly six decades ago, TV viewers entered “a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man.” Thanks to creator-host Rod Serling, who was also one of the most honored writers in television, “The Twilight Zone” premiered this week in 1959.

NATION-WORLD

-- Facebook has handed over to congressional committees more than 3,000 ads purchased during the 2016 election campaign by a firm with ties to Russian intelligence, a lawmaker said.

-- The European Union and Spain have turned down Catalonia’s plea for mediation after this weekend’s violence-marred vote on the region gaining independence.

-- Two women accused of smearing a banned nerve agent on the face of the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader pleaded not guilty as their trial began in Malaysia.

-- French President Emmanuel Macron has seen his approval rating slip to 30%. Now he is taking on a big challenge: remaking France’s cushy labor laws.

-- Three Americans won the Nobel Prize in medicine for uncovering the science behind our biological clocks. The physics prize was awarded to three scientists — two from the California Institute of Technology — for their discoveries in gravitational waves.

BUSINESS

-- CBS Corp. fired a vice president in business affairs for comments she made on social media regarding the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

-- With an eye on China, General Motors says it will sell at least 20 models of electric or hydrogen vehicles by 2023.

SPORTS

-- “We’ll have our day in the sun”: Clippers owner Steve Ballmer shares his thoughts on Chris Paul, the Inglewood arena and more.

-- USC assistant coach Tony Bland, charged in the college basketball corruption and fraud scandal, has retained an attorney who defended John Gotti Jr. and represents alleged drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

OPINION

-- The slaughter in Las Vegas is all too familiar, yet Americans refuse to stop it.

-- The legacy of slavery is not gone with the wind: See the David Horsey cartoon, first in a five-part series on Confederate monuments and race.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- About 90 rounds in 10 seconds: An audio comparison shows how the Vegas shooting was different from others. (New York Times)

-- Former Secretary of State John Kerry’s defense of the Iran nuclear deal. (Washington Post)

-- “October” by Robert Frost. (The Poetry Foundation)

ONLY IN L.A.

In early 2016, the Ball brothers were the kings of the high school basketball court playing for Chino Hills. What a difference a year and a half makes. Lonzo is the Lakers’ new point guard. LiAngelo will be a freshman at UCLA. As for LaMelo, a 16-year-old high school junior? He’ll be home-schooled and not play for any team, according to his outspoken father, LaVar, who says he’s pulling LaMelo out of Chino Hills High. “I’m going to make him the best basketball player ever,” he said.

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