White doves flew overhead, each tagged with a name of the 58 people killed one year ago in the largest mass shooting in modern American history, as loved ones gathered in Las Vegas at a sunrise service on Monday to remember them.
“On October 1st, our city was jolted into darkness,” said Mynda Smith, whose sister Neysa Tonks, a 46-year-old mother of three, was among those gunned down in the massacre that wounded more than 800 at an outdoor country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip.
“None of us will ever be the same after that night. However, none of us were alone,” she said, recalling the massive response of citizens donating blood, aiding the injured and feeding families stunned by the violence. “We found love that came from so many that were there to help us.”
Gunman Stephen Paddock, 64, fired more than 1,100 rounds from his 32nd-floor hotel suite at the Mandalay Bay on the evening of Oct. 1, 2017, and then killed himself before police stormed his room.
At the daybreak ceremony one year later, friends and family members bowed their heads for 58 seconds of silence before a choral group sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and the air was filled with the mournful strains of bagpipes.
MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay Bay and drew criticism for countersuing victims to seek immunity from damage claims, expressed solidarity and sympathy on the first anniversary of the gun violence.
“One year ago, our community suffered an unforgettable act of terror,” MGM Resorts Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Murren said in a statement. “We share the sorrow of those who mourn and continue to search for meaning in events that lie beyond our understanding.”
Paddock used “bump stock” devices to accelerate the rate of fire from his semiautomatic rifles, effectively turning them into machine guns.
The use of bump stocks, which are legal under U.S. law, prompted calls from politicians and gun control activists to ban the devices.
Within days, National Rifle Association leaders urged the U.S. government to review whether bump stocks were legal. Drawing criticism from some NRA members who viewed that call as a betrayal of the powerful gun lobby’s principles, the NRA position also gave political cover to the Trump administration to consider regulating bump stocks.
On Monday, the U.S. Justice Department said it had submitted a proposed ban on bump stocks last week to the Office of Management and Budget for review, part of the legal process required for the regulation to take effect.
President Donald Trump, asked about bump stocks at a news conference on Monday, said his administration was scrambling to ensure the devices would be illegal within a matter of weeks.
“We’re knocking out bump stocks,” Trump said. “Bump stocks are done – I told the NRA.”
Reporting by Barbara Goldberg, Dan Trotta and Peter Szekely in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis