Friday 20 September 2019

Abandoned items reunited with those who fled Las Vegas shooting

Personal belongings and debris litters the Route 91 Harvest festival grounds across the street from the Mandalay Bay resort and casino in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Personal belongings and debris litters the Route 91 Harvest festival grounds across the street from the Mandalay Bay resort and casino in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Abandoned prams, shoes, phones, backpacks and handbags which were strewn across the site of the Las Vegas massacre are being returned to their owners.

It comes a week on from the deadliest mass shooting in US history when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd from the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel, killing 58 people.

Thousands of people who were attending the Route 91 Harvest festival fled for their lives as Paddock slaughtered dozens before killing himself.

Police have spent the seven days since the shooting collecting evidence amid the thousands of items, some of them stained with blood.

"Whatever was dropped when people started running, those items we're collecting and we're going to provide back," Paul Flood, unit chief in the FBI's victim services division said at a news conference.

The items have been catalogued with detailed descriptions, and some have been cleaned of things including blood.

They are now being returned to people at a Family Assistance Centre at the Las Vegas Convention Centre, starting with a few sections of the concert scene.

"Just in general, the sheer size of the space, the amount of personal items that were left there, it's just a huge undertaking," Mr Flood said.

Las Vegas police have said they found 19 guns and several pounds of potentially explosive materials at the home that Paddock bought in early 2015, and where he lived with his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who was in the Philippines during the shooting rampage.

Las Vegas hotel and gambling magnate Steve Wynn, who owns casinos that Paddock gambled in but not the Mandalay Bay, said his hotels have undertaken special security measures in recent years to identify potentially dangerous guests.

Those measures include using magnetometers to detect significant amounts of metal and training housekeeping staff to report suspicious actions like a do-not-disturb sign remaining on a door for extended periods.

Paddock spent the days before the shooting bringing bags of guns into the hotel and setting up his sniper's perch for the shooting.

He also rigged his own surveillance cameras to watch for police and hotel staff.

"If a room goes on 'do not disturb' for more than 12 hours, we investigate," Mr Wynn, whose hotels include Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, told Fox News Sunday.

"We don't allow guns in this building unless they're being carried by our employees, and there's a lot of them. But if anybody's got a gun and we find them continually, we eject them from the hotel."

Mr Wynn said a scenario like Paddock's "would have triggered a whole bunch of alarms here. And we would have, on behalf of the guests, of course, investigated for safety, and it would have been a provocative situation".

Paddock and Ms Danley were well known to his employees, Mr Wynn added.

"We have butlers and waiters and masseuses and the people in the beauty shop that know this woman and this man completely," he said.

"They talk about normal mundane things. But if there's anything interesting that stood out over the six years, nobody that's ever worked here have ever seen the gentleman or the lady take a drink of wine, beer or alcohol of any kind."

Country singer Jason Aldean, who was on stage when the shooting broke out, made a special appearance to open the telecast of Saturday Night Live with a performance of I Won't Back Down by Tom Petty, who died in Los Angeles on Monday.

"This week we witnessed one of the worst tragedies in American history," Mr Aldean said before starting the song.

"So many people are hurting. You can be sure that we are going to walk through these tough times together every step of the way."

In another tribute to the 58 killed and nearly 500 injured, the casino marquees on the Las Vegas Strip went dark at 10:05 pm on Sunday to mark exactly a week passing since the shooting.


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