Thousands of people were attending a country music concert on October 1 when a man stationed at a broken window high up in the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, armed with dozens of rifles, killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more.
The banner now hangs in an expansive makeshift memorial on the Vegas strip, steps from the Vegas Village, the site of the shooting. Fifty-eight crosses, one for each victim, line the median of Las Vegas Boulevard. In an outpouring of sympathy, tributes to the victims came from communities across the country. The memorial includes flowers, candles, posters, artwork, balloons, photographs, teddy bears, and crosses.
“It was emotional. Very solemn,” Davis said. “People were holding candles, taking pictures, reading each individual cross with the names of the victims. I had tears in my eyes. There was one guy going up and down with a paint brush dusting off the crosses.”
Davis, along with many others, visited three memorial sites across the city, which display the words, “Vegas Strong.” The Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority put its marketing on hold during the month of October, suspending its advertising campaigns.
“It was emotional. Very solemn. People were holding candles, taking pictures, reading each individual cross with the names of the victims.” – Carl Davis
Davis, who retired from a 32-year career at General Motors, was in Las Vegas at the end of October to attend a car-and-truck-parts convention with friends from Bayonne. The mass loss of life in the shooting reminded Davis of the last time he experienced a huge loss of life – 9/11.
“When I was in Vegas after 9/11, it was really touching to see the outpouring of support from all parts of the country,” Davis said. “It just stuck in my head.” At the time, he was staying at the New York, New York Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, which installed NY Fire Department boats in the famous fountain in the front of the building. “On the railing around the fountain, t-shirts from police, fire, and EMT companies from around the country were hanging,” Davis said, adding, “I just thought making a banner would be nice, and since I’m going out there already, let me do it.”
Since the Mandalay Bay shooting, a mere month and a half ago, another shooting, this time at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, left 25 people, including children and a pregnant woman, dead. The shootings are part of a disturbing trend. According to the Gun Violence Archive, an estimated 346 people have been killed in mass shootings so far in 2017. In 2016, 432 were killed, and 369 were killed in 2015. Views differ on how to stop them. Davis, for instance, said he believes in the right to own guns, but said there should be some limitations, such as tracking mass purchases of weapons.
Said Davis, “When a 60-year-old man buys dozens of guns, some red flags should go up.”
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.