LAS VEGAS – The sun rose Thursday over a somber ceremony marking the third anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, as Las Vegas remembered the excruciating night when 58 people were killed at an outdoor country music festival in 2017.
“Three years ago today, a heinous act of violence rained down on our city, our county and our state,” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak told a modest gathering at an open-air amphitheater at the Clark County Government Center. His voice cracked with emotion behind his coronavirus face mask as he recalled “everyone involved that helped us get through those tragic times.”
“Victim families will forever be in our hearts from 1 October,” he said, “and we will never, never forget what happened that day or the lives that were lost and the lives that were changed.”
The ceremony drew perhaps 200 survivors, friends and elected officials. Plans to host no more than 50 people expanded on Tuesday to allow up to 250 when the governor, a Democrat, relaxed some statewide COVID-19 pandemic crowd restrictions.
Authorities said more than 850 people were injured in the attack by a lone shooter firing from upper-floor windows of the Mandalay Bay resort into an outdoor crowd of 22,000 attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Police later said 413 of the injured suffered bullet or shrapnel wounds, others were injured fleeing the concert venue.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo announced Thursday he was raising the department's death toll from the shooting to 60. He drew local criticism in recent weeks for refusing to increase the number despite coroners’ rulings that two women died during the past year of wounds received three years ago.
“We are all a statistic,” Albert Rivera, father of slain 21-year-old Jordyn Rivera, told the amphitheater audience. “We are all part of this unwanted fraternity that we didn’t choose to be a part of. But because of this tragedy, a new family was born.”
Rivera, of La Verne, California, also marked the death in May of Greg Zanis, a carpenter from Aurora, Illinois, “who took it upon himself to build a simple white cross for each precious life lost.”