Hotel Attacks

2 October 2017, Initial report – concert mass murderer used Mandalay Bay as shooting perch

Below is an initial report of the worst mass shooting in US history where the shooter used the Mandalay Bay Resort and Hotel as a firing position to attack the Route 91 country music concert. The facts in this case are fluid and subject to change.

The attack

  • The current casualty rate is 58 killed and 515 wounded, says the Daily Mail.
  • The gunman’s target was the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a three-day country music festival, held at the Las Vegas Village concert/entertainment venue located at the corner of Vegas Blvd and Mandalay Bay Road.
  • Firing went on for 10 minutes, says Today.
  • Two shattered windows from the gunman’s hotel room indicate he used two different shooting positions so he could put fire on the concert venue from two different angles and increase his casualty count.
  • He had 10 weapons in his hotel room, says the Daily Mail.

Police response

  • Initial reports say the gunman killed himself as police arrived at his room. He apparently had some kind of video surveillance set up to alert him to when authorities neared.
  • Response time from the first 9-11 call that reported the shooting to the police arriving at the gunman’s room was supposedly one hour and 12 minutes.
  • Photos of police response at the concert appeared to be immediate, primarily because a heightened police presence at such venues is standard operating procedure.
  • Police questioned the gunman’s female live-in companion, Marilou Danley, while she was overseas, and they raided her home, reports Heavy.com. She is a high limit poker hostess in Las Vegas and has so far been cleared of any connection to the shooting.

The shooter’s weaponry

  • Initial information indicates the attacker used one or more rapid-fire long guns to shower the concert venue with bullets. Muir Analytics’ analysis of several videos that captured the gunfire indicates that one of the weapons used might have been a semi-automatic weapon with an after market crank or similar mechanism on it to increase its rate of fire. This is presumed because, during one of the long bursts of fire, the report of the weapon quickened, then slowed down, and then quickened again. This is commensurate with a crank mechanism.
  • It could also be that the gunman used one or more fully automatic weapons. Some of the gunfire was steady and sustained.
  • Additional audio-video analysis by Muir Analytics concludes that one of the weapons used appears to have had a cyclic rate of at least 600 rounds a minute.

The shooter’s perch

  • A Muir Analytics precision rifle subject matter expert (SME) analyzed the shooter’s firing position and discerned that the gunman was at approximately 550 yards from his target. This takes into account the distance from the base of the hotel to the concert venue, about 411 yards/375 meters, and it adds the height of the shooter’s perch (general floor-to-floor hotel measurements are 10.17 feet/3.1 meters, and the man was on the 32d floor, so his elevation was roughly 320 feet/98 meters.)
  • Muir’s precision rifle SME also said, based on the calculated approach that the shooter took, that he probably understood that Las Vegas’ 2001’ elevation and cooler night air would aid in shot placement over such a distance.

Outlying issues

  • Skynews interviewed a concertgoer who left the venue 10 minutes before the shooting began (posted by the Express) saying that she witnessed a woman who was with a male subject telling people in the crowd that, “You are all going to die.” The mystery woman (and man) were described as 5’-5” or 5’-6” tall and Hispanic. The woman was escorted out of the venue by security because of her actions.
  • ISIS says the gunman was one of their soldiers and that he had recently converted to Islam. Authorities have no evidence as yet to support this claim.
  • As of the eventing of 2 October, neither authorities nor family members of the shooter have offered any clue as to why he would have committed mass murder.

There are four preliminary takeaways here. First, the shooter was calculated and methodical in his set up and execution of the attack. It was intentional and premeditated. He was aiming for a mass casualty event, and he achieved it. The shooter demonstrated skill in selecting his firing position, he showed deadly effectiveness in having two firing angles in a single room, and he exhibited high efficiency – and ruthlessness – in dropping his bullets on a purely civilian target so far away.

Second, terrorists and mass casualty attackers are increasingly using light infantry war zone tactics in non-war zone areas. Globally, this is not a brand new phenomenon, but it is indeed increasing, especially since 2015. Paris, Istanbul, and Brussels have seen it. Both Sousse and Tunis in Tunisia have seen it, and the US saw it in the San Bernardino, Calif. and Alexandria, Va. attacks.

Third, and in line with this latter observation, the shooter set up a machine-gun position inside the Mandalay Bay Hotel the exact same way a soldier would set up such a position in a war zone like Afghanistan. But whereas the soldier in Afghanistan might use his lofty firing position to put sustained, plunging fire on an enemy position to cover his squad mates as they closed with and destroyed the enemy position, the Mandalay shooter simply shot up a concert packed with civilians.

As an aside, the application of this tactic – plunging and sustained machine-gun fire on a civilian venue – is a first for the United States and perhaps a first for non-war zone, developed countries around the world.

Fourth, the motive of the attack is currently unclear. Muir Analytics believes that it is possible the shooter was acting out because of a psychotic/sociopathic episode like the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut. Supposition from some news outlets suggesting the man simply snapped, however, is unlikely because of the extensive preplanning involved. Moreover, attacks such as these are frequently, but not always, motivated by political, religious, or other social rage and/or resentment issues. Still, the jury remains out on a reason for the attack, and investigators might uncover evidence that explains the “why” behind this in the coming days.

On 3 October at 8:30 am, Dr. Michael Mark Welner, M.D., forensic psychiatrist and Chairman of The Forensic Panel, said on a morning news show the gunman in this case was out to cause a “massive spectacle,” and that this is an indicator of an individual seeking to make a statement based on religious, political, social, and/or economic issues.

Lastly, Muir finds it interesting that a woman proclaimed to many at the concert that they would all soon die. It could have been just talk, or it could have been connected to the attack.

Muir Analytics will continue to follow developments as they unfold.

Sources and further reading:

Marilou Danley: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know,” Heavy.com, 2 October 2017.

What happened in Las Vegas? Latest news and updates on the Mandalay Bay shooting,” Express, 2 October 2017.

Country music star Jake Owen describes Las Vegas shooting: ‘It was chaos’,” Today, 2 October 2017.

PICTURED: The lone Las Vegas gunman, 64, who murdered 58 and injured 515 concert-goers with an automatic rifle from his suite on 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay in America’s deadliest mass shooting – before committing suicide, Daily Mail, 2 October 2017.

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