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article imageLas Vegas shooting: gunshots, 'then silence'

By AFP     Oct 4, 2017 in World

Destiny Albers, a woman in the crowd during Sunday night's mass shooting in Las Vegas, wept in her mother's arms Tuesday as they visited a makeshift memorial near the Mandalay Bay hotel where Stephen Paddock opened fire.

"She called me on the phone and told me she loved me, she had to help her girlfriend or she would die," her mother Bonnie Albers, who drove through the night from California, told AFP.

"You hear ta-ta-ta, then silence, and I thought it was the end."

Jennifer Zuccolo, a Canadian tourist, brought a teddy bear to the corner of the busy crossroads on South Las Vegas Boulevard -- one of a stream of people who paid their respects with candles, balloons and messages of peace and hope.

"I get comfort from a teddy bear, so I would hope that everyone else would, she said.

Visiting Las Vegas with a friend, she was set to return to Toronto Tuesday night.

"I'm at a loss for words that this could even happen, that somebody could even do this. It's absolutely disgusting that somebody would do this. I really can't wait to understand why, or even you know, some kind of answers," she added.

At 17 years old, Briana Calderon is Vegas born and bred -- never imagining the horror of Sunday night would arrive on her doorstep.

Along with friends Cinthya Olivera and Roberto Lopez, she paid tribute at the memorial Tuesday.

- 'Everybody knows everybody'-

"Our life has changed, she said.

"Vegas is pretty small, so it hits everybody, everybody knows everybody. A lot of our families work here, it could have been our parents, it could have been anybody, it could even have been us."

"It's scary to think you really aren't safe anywhere," she added, suggesting tourist hotspot Las Vegas makes a "really good target" for terrorism.

But Lopez was more defiant. "Afraid? No, we are more cautious now," he insisted.

Jessica Yerkey (C) who attended the Route 91 country music festival pays tribute in front of the can...
Jessica Yerkey (C) who attended the Route 91 country music festival pays tribute in front of the candles, balloons and messages left for victims
Mark RALSTON, AFP

Previously unknown to the authorities, shooter Stephen Paddock killed 58 and wounded over 500 Sunday night, in the most deadly shooting in recent US history. He fired at the crowd for nearly ten minutes, according to police.

After searching his 32nd-floor hotel room in Las Vegas and home in Mesquite, Nevada, authorities later discovered he was in possession of an arsenal of 42 firearms, explosives and thousands of rounds of ammo in the hotel room and a house he owns in Reno.

Police have categorized Paddock as a "lone wolf," insisting he acted alone. The Islamic State group claimed he was a convert to Islam and one of their "soldiers," but the FBI said there is absolutely no evidence to support this.

"There is some changes in our life, we are more cautious," said Cinthya Olivera. But she believes the solidarity locals have shown to the victims is something good that has emerged from the terror.

"Today more than ever the communities are together, there for each other, everyone is connected," she added, having spent the morning off school to donate blood following an appeal from the authorities.

"We wanted to donate our blood for people in critical condition," Cinthya explained.

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