It breaks my heart to write this post especially because it is in such stark contrast to an article that I just posted about spending the weekend in the beach. I feel like I just came from a sunny, bright and cheerful place and was thrown into a dark, gloomy and desolate dungeon.
Last night at around 10 PM, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of more than 22,000 people from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Jason Aldean, who was performing at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, was midway through a song when the first sound of gunshots pierced through the air. It went on and on for about 10-15 minutes, and videos posted on social media showed people – not quite sure what was going on, scrambling in different directions to save their lives. Those more than 22,000 folks gathered near Mandalay Bay for one reason, they just wanted to enjoy the concert. But one man robbed them of that joy. That man, as we later found out, was Stephen Paddock.
According to USA Today, Stephen Paddock “was a 64 year old retired accountant with a taste for high stakes poker”. He lived in an upscale retirement community with a female companion and “they kept to themselves”, according to a neighbor. So far that’s all we know about him, aside from the fact that he just managed to break the record for the worst mass killing in the US. As of this afternoon’s report, 58 were killed and 515 were injured from the horrific, non-stop shooting.
I remember having a discussion with my friend at work as we were lamenting these senseless deaths and sufferings. This guy, Stephen, was 64. If people only lived to a hundred, then it meant he has already lived more than half of his life. Whatever was going on with him, none of those people that he dragged into this mess deserved what happened to them. That crowd of over 22,000? They were sitting ducks with no inkling that they were soon gonna be part of history! I cannot even imagine what was going on in their heads as they all realized they were in danger. They just started running off in different directions, not knowing where danger ends and safety begins. Had I been there, I would not have known what to do myself. Even if I was an athletic person who runs miles everyday (and I’m not), I probably would have been paralyzed into inaction. Those people — they were all doomed to suffer the same fate, doomed by this man who decided that he has had enough of life.
It makes me so frustrated. Frustrated at all the violence that’s going on in the world, at all the negative news that I see and hear everywhere. Frustrated that the leader of this free nation’s main agenda, I feel, is to just undo everything that was done by the previous administration without putting a better alternative in place. Frustrated at seeing this statement by the White House that now is not the time for gun control debate. Yes, I agree. Now is not the time because 58 people have already died. Now is too late to prevent what already happened. I work in mental health and I can’t tell you how many times we go over a safety policy with a fine tooth comb to ensure that we have covered everything for our patients’ and our staff’s safety. So it appalls me to think nothing has been done in spite of the fact that just over a year ago, 49 people were killed by a gunman inside a club in Orlando. It scares me that just about any Tom, Dick and Harry can buy a gun because we don’t have stricter background checks and safety measures since that regulation was overturned.
It also makes me sad. Sad for all those who got hurt, for the lives that were lost, the families and friends that were left behind. I am even sad for Stephen, whose mind must have been so tormented by whatever it is that he was going through that he thought there was no other way but this.
When you go to sleep tonight, call your family, hug your loved ones and tell them how much you love them. Thank the Lord or whoever your higher being is for keeping you safe from harm. Pray that what happened in Vegas never happens again. And in the memory of the victims of this horrible tragedy, please do an act of kindness. A simple act of kindness in their honor will create a ripple effect that will go farther than you can imagine. We could all use that right about now.