On Sunday, Oct. 1, at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, opened fire on a crowd of 22,000 people at 10:08 p.m. Paddock shot from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay, a casino-hotel, killing 58 people and injuring 527. Police found Paddock dead in the hotel room, presumably after he killed himself.
After investigation, Las Vegas officials say they found a total of 42 firearms owned by Paddock. There were 23 firearms in the hotel room and 19 firearms at his home in Mesquite, Nevada. This mass shooting marks the 273rd U.S. mass shooting to occur in 2017. “Mass Shooting”, according to the Gun Violence Archive, is defined as “four or more shot and/or killed in a single event.”
In light of this deadly event that cost an array of people their lives, University of Wisconsin–Stout Chancellor Bob Meyer released a campus-wide statement expressing sorrow for the victims of the event. “Words cannot describe my feelings this morning as I watch the horror unfold in Las Vegas,” said Meyer, “So, all I can ask is that you please join me in keeping the mass shooting victims, along with their family and friends and law enforcement personnel, in your thoughts and prayers today.”
We reached out to Meyer to get more of his personal reaction. He said, “I reacted with horror and outrage to this hideous act of violence. It frankly made me sick to my stomach.”
Meyer also reassured UW-Stout students of their safety, saying, “Providing a safe campus for our students, faculty, staff and guests is my number one priority. We have a number of initiatives in place to handle a spectrum of situations, as well as a well-trained and equipped campus police department. The cooperation of students, faculty, staff and guests is vital, however. We need anyone who sees or hears anything that could constitute a threat to report that to the authorities. Everyone has a role to play in ensuring their personal safety.”
We also reached out to Chelsea Lovejoy, an associate professor of psychology here at UW-Stout. Lovejoy was able to offer her opinion on the event from a social psychological perspective. She stated, “I continue to be frustrated by the media’s portrayal of such events. Calling this mass shooting the ‘Worst Mass Shooting in Modern American History’ only serves to sensationalize the attack, encouraging some others to try for something even bigger.
Even in death, the shooter becomes infamous, bringing them validation and showing others that they could be known as well. The idea of giving others ideas is well-known, which is why streakers at sporting events and graduations are not typically publicized, nor are suicides on university campuses across the country.”
Cassandra Kopp, a professor of photography here at UW-Stout, also offered her opinion on how media covers events like this, particularly concerning photography. Kopp said, “Photographs as a way of documenting an event (celebratory or tragic) are quite important. They help tell and complete a story that we as readers and viewers are trying to piece together.
Within photographing and distributing images from horrific events such as this there are ethical dilemmas that must be faced. Based on how we view and receive news, is it fair to the victims and their families to have personally painful images playing on a continuous loop? In some instances, these images are released before families are notified (whether by civilians/bystanders or media) without sufficient respect or empathy.”
It is important that we focus on the those that were hurt and killed in this shooting and not the shooter himself. You can find a list of the victims on USA Today, NBC News, CNN, Los Angeles Times and CBS News.