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Vegas Shooting stings those far and close to home

 

(David Becker/Getty Images)

The Route 91 Festival shooting in Las Vegas has been reported as the largest mass shooting in U.S. history with 58 people dead and over 500 injured.

In the last couple years, shootings of this sort have become frequent occurrences. Orlando, San Bernardino, Newtown, Aurora and now Las Vegas are just a few of the larger mass shootings in the last four years whose victims were ordinary people enjoying a night out or some kids heading off to a day at school. While the tragedies have repeated, the terror remains the same for those affected.

University of Massachusetts senior sociology major Danielle Farano was in Las Vegas the night of the shooting after flying home for her best friend’s baby shower. The night before the shooting occurred from a suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Farano and her friends were out on the Strip until the wee hours of the morning.

“This is just really scary,” Farano said who the morning of Oct. 1 awoke to text messages from concerned friends and family.

“I just didn’t know what was true. When I woke up, I was like, did I dream this?” She said. While everyone she knows is okay, the week back at UMass was hard for her. She flew back the morning following the shooting; her flight attendant cried as she told those onboard she hopes that everybody will hold people closer than they did before.

“For the first couple days when I came back here, I was in shock and was honestly just scared,” Farano said. “I was so sad. I don’t even know why I was so sad. Dude, like nothing happened to me but it’s the weirdest feeling because it’s home. I kept crying. I kept going through Facebook and watching every single video, and it just made me more upset but I couldn’t stop watching these videos or reading on it.”

Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy sent out a tweet October 3, two days following the shooting.

“Deepest sympathies of UMass community are with loved ones of those who died in Las Vegas, the injured, & all affected by senseless violence,” the tweet read.

Student Government Association president Anthony Vitale said that the SGA was “deeply saddened and appalled by the unthinkable level of violence targeting innocent people” and that they support members of the campus community affected in any way.

“For this reason we are directing all students who have been affected to please visit the Dean of Students office to seek support,” Vitale said.

Senior communication and political science double majors Nicole Longo and Jenna Delvecchio both said while the shooting was definitely alarming, they weren’t necessarily surprised as these tragedies have become almost continual.

“From a political standpoint, something definitely needs to happen. It’s just hard to say what,” Longo said. Delvecchio added by saying in her classes, people seem to be very divided on the issue of gun control.

“People are definitely heated about it and safety is a huge issue that comes up, so it definitely is going to be interesting to see if the Trump administration does something about it,” Delvecchio said.

On Facebook and Twitter, there have been reported allegations regarding the shooting. Examples include the claim that there was more than one shooter and discrepancies about different floors of the hotel that the shooter was on.

“I just think he did it because he’s crazy,” Farano said in response to the conspiracies. Longo stated that, with any tragedy, she feels like there will always be conspiracies to go along with it.

“Obviously people have a point when they have them, I think they’re hard though because how reliable is the source,” Longo stated. “Where are they getting that information? I think in the media now things get lost in translation.”

When asked how she would think of preventing things like this in the future, Farano said she had no idea. “There is nothing you could do. I just don’t know because he brought so much armor up to his room without being caught. Nobody noticed any of this. Like, were people in on it? I don’t know.”

A motive is yet to be found of the shooter, 58-year old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, who spent most of his days sitting at swivel chairs, staring at video poker machines.

“I just want to know,” Farano asked, questioning how someone could do such a thing.

Celeste Ramirez and Kathleen Supynuk are both senior natural resources conservation major. Ramirez said to prevent mass further shootings, attention should be brought to gun control; Supynuk thinks mental health definitely plays a part in the conversation.

“Our culture as a whole has an obsession with violence and I think we downplay it,” Supynuk said. In response to how to prevent further shootings, she recommended “better access to mental health care, better emotional support for people and [really] there shouldn’t be such a stigma for expressing emotion.”

Adigun Sayo is a freshman resource economics major who first heard about the news via Twitter. He said he has heard the argument that the shooter has had mental illness and feels as though that is just an excuse.

“Say if it was a person of color, for example, that wouldn’t be a question,” Sayo said. “There’s more of these theories when it’s not a person of color. People rather beat around the bush than hit the nail on the head.”

He said both in the states and in Nigeria where he’s originally from, there’s many precautions and regulations you have to pass in order to get a Visa.

“Why can’t they do it the same when it comes to guns? They just need to make the requirements harder,” Sayo said.

Farano said the morning following the shooting, there were four to six hour lines for blood donations. Since then, a memorial has been put up behind the infamous “Welcome to the Fabulous Las Vegas” sign honoring the victims of the shooting with a sign printed with “Vegas Strong” in red, block letters.

“As bad as that was, good came out of it too in the grossest way,” Farano said. Since the shooting, she has felt more appreciative of her friends and family.

“My grandma texts me ‘I love you’ everyday. We always say everyday ‘I love you’ because you just never know,” Farano said. “Like if I wouldn’t have gone home, my mom would have gone to that festival— things like that, you just never know.”

In the aftermath of the shooting, vigils were held around the states. According to the UMass Amherst 2021 facebook page, a vigil was held Oct. 2 at the campus pond.  Steve Sisolak, the Clark County Commission chair from Las Vegas, has set up a verified GoFundMe donation page to help victims of the Las Vegas shooting. The page provides alternative ways one can support the victims as well from giving blood through United Blood Services, or physical donations via Three Square or Catholic Charities.

Caeli Chesin can be reached at mchesin@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @caeli_chesin.

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