President Trump plans to travel to Las Vegas on Wednesday following a massacre at a country music festival in which at least 50 people were killed and more than 400 were injured late Sunday, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
“It was an act of pure evil,” Trump said somberly, standing in the Diplomatic Room at the White House on Monday morning.
Trump offered his condolences to the friends and relatives of those killed. “We cannot fathom their pain; we cannot imagine their loss,” he said. He urged the country not to be divided by what happened, saying that “our unity cannot be shattered by evil.” And he praised law enforcement officers and others who quickly responded as soon as shots were fired.
“The speed with which they acted is miraculous and prevented further loss of life,” Trump said. “To have found the shooter so quickly after the first shots were fired is something for which we will always be thankful and grateful. It shows what true professionalism is all about.”
Later in the day, Trump told reporters that he plans to travel to Las Vegas “very early” on Wednesday morning to meet with the Nevada governor, Las Vegas mayor and local sheriff. The president said he plans to spend the full day there and “maybe longer.” There is a Trump International Hotel located in Vegas, and the president has several close friends who own casinos.
Police have identified the gunman as Stephen Paddock, who was found dead by officers on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Police believe that Paddock, a 64-year-old local resident, was a “lone wolf” attacker, and they have not yet released any information about his background or possible motivations.
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Trump first responded to the shooting in a tweet early Monday, writing: “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!”
Soon after, Vice President Pence tweeted a series of message that read, in full: “To victims, families & loved ones affected by this senseless violence in Las Vegas, Karen & I are praying for you & offering our love… The hearts & prayers of the American people are with you. You have our condolences and sympathies. To the courageous first responders, thank you for your acts of bravery.”