NEW YORK – Another senseless act of violence has struck America which surpassed last year’s record of 50 people killed and 53 injured in a nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. At a Las Vegas, Nevada mayhem Sunday evening, October 1, 59 people were dead and more than 500 injured, according to ongoing police investigation of this tragic incident.
The alleged gunman, Stephen Paddock, who was at his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, fired his rifle to some 22,000 people on the crowd at a Route 91 Harvest country music festival. Country singer Jason Aldaen was performing at that time. Paddock reportedly fired randomly at people, hitting several victims. Many ran at all directions for cover not knowing where the gunshots were coming from.
Paddock, 64, shot himself in his room as Las Vegas Police SWAT was approaching according to police. He had been staying at the hotel since Thursday, Sept. 29.
Media reports say that police found a cache of 10 rifles in his room without being discovered by housekeeping staff. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that according to a police officer, Randy Sutton, the “way the shooter was identified was not from the muzzle flashes, but the smoke detector in the room went off from the amount of smoke that came from firing that fully automatic weapon.”
Filipino community population
Greater Las Vegas (GLV) is a home to American citizens of Filipino descent and Filipino workers, many of whom are in the medical profession. According to Bobby M. Reyes of West Covina, Cal., who hosted the then-only talk show, “Mabuhay Las Vegas” at KRLV-AM radio from July 2004 to August 2005, there are also thousands of Filipino-American workers in the city’s gaming industry.
Reyes adds that GLV has a population of about 1.0 million residents which includes North Las Vegas, Henderson and neighboring towns. “Approximately 10- to 12 percent are of Filipino descent and Filipino workers,” he said.
The Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles says that there are 131,000 members of the Filipino community in Las Vegas, which is also a popular tourist destination for Filipinos from other parts of the US and the Philippines.
When Marilou Danley’s name popped up and her photo flashed on TV screens as a person of interest in the investigation, the Filipino community was surprised as she appeared to be a Filipino.
Following a police search for her in connection with the shooting, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that she has been cleared.
“LVMPD detectives have made contact with her and do not believe she is involved with the shooting on the strip,” police said in a statement.
Police clears Danley as ‘person of interest’
Police said Paddock had used Danley’s slot card to gamble in the hotel. They also said Paddock used Danley’s ID to check in to the hotel.
The Herald Sun reported that Danley is believed to be an Australian citizen who lived on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia for more than a decade. She was married to an Australian who has since passed away and moved to the U.S. 20 years ago.
According to CNN, Danley was in the Philippines when the massacre took place, adding that the sheriff’s now says that “she does not appear to have been involved in the shooting.”
Police said Danley, 62, lived with Paddock in a retirement community in a three-year-old, two-bedroom home on Babbling Brook Court in Mesquite. It is 80 miles north east of Las Vegas near the Arizona state border. Public records show the same address as with Paddock’s since January 2017. She has also lived in Sparks and Reno, Nevada, along with Canton, Ohio; Springdale, Arkansas; and Memphis, Tennessee.
Danley had described herself on her LinkedIn page as a ‘gambling and casino professional’ living in Reno, Nevada. Her social media page also listed her as working as a ‘high limit hostess’ at Club Paradise, Atlantis Casino in Reno between 2010 and 2013, but does not list another job since that year.
Ex-New Jersey resident recalls experience
Former New Jersey resident Filipino-American Phil Peredo, who now lives in Las Vegas, was driving back home on Sunday evening.
“This whole experience reminded me of the first World Trade Center bombing back in 1993. I was coming home from New York City. There was a little bit of traffic and a lot of first responders going in the opposite direction of me,” Peredo told the Philippine Daily Mirror.
On Monday morning, when he went to his office, which is two miles away from Mandalay Bay, several roads were shut down in and around the area.
He found it ironic how he left “New York City because my office was located in Times Square for 10 years and I was evading bomb threats all the time. And then now that I’m here, I end up being near the largest mass shooting in the history of the U.S.”
Peredo felt “deeply saddened by the loss of all the families of the fallen and injured.” He tours nationally as a stand-up comedian and has his own entertainment company in Las Vegas that plans events, books talent and markets shows.
Jean Cua, a resident of New Jersey, arrived at her house in Las Vegas last Saturday. She heard the news about the mass shooting when she woke up Monday morning and was glad that she and her husband stayed home that night. They usually have dinner at the strip.
“Lito was feeling feverish and I was coughing. We were in bed at 9 p.m.,” she said.
PH conveys sympathy to U.S. and families of victims
Meanwhile, the Philippines expressed its deepest sympathies to the U.S. and to the families of those who were killed in Sunday’s mass shooting.
In a statement, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano, who is in New York on an official visit, offered the Philippines’ deepest sympathies to the United States over this disturbing act of violence.
“We mourn with the families of those who perished and hope for the speedy recovery of the more than 400 people who were reported injured,” Cayetano said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the American people today.”
Consul General Adelio Angelito Cruz said his office continues to monitor developments to determine if Filipinos were among the victims of the deadly shooting.
“We are coordinating with Las Vegas police authorities and with leaders of the Filipino Community to check on our kababayans there,” Cruz said. “We hope and pray that all of them are safe and accounted for.”
The incident came hours before Cayetano meets with all heads of Philippine Foreign Service posts in the Americas to discuss how the Philippine Government could better respond to calls for assistance from distressed Filipinos abroad.