Utah’s governor and leading law enforcement officials reacted in horror and outrage in the wake of a mass shooting in Las Vegas Sunday night that left some 60 people dead and more than 500 injured.
They also stood ready to come to the aid of Nevada police handling what is now thought to be the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert stated Monday that he was “heartbroken to hear of the horrific shooting in Las Vegas,” and he offered Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval assistance if needed. “Utah’s family stands with Nevada today and always. God bless.”
Herbert also said that flags in Utah would be lowered to half-staff through Oct. 6, as they will be elsewhere in the nation.
The governor’s office also published a news release encouraging Utahns to donate blood and money to organizations assisting with the aftermath of the shooting.
“The Salt Lake County Sheriff‘s Office and the Unified Police Department are deeply saddened in regard to the horrific shooting in Las Vegas,” a statement from Sheriff Rosie Rivera’s office read. “Our thoughts and prayers go to all the Las Vegas first responders, Las Vegas residents and all the victims affected by this evil act.”
Utah Public Safety Commissioner Keith Squires said his office has been in touch with Las Vegas authorities, but “we have not received requests for Utah assistance at this time.
“[This is] so heartbreaking to think of all who are suffering from the attack in Las Vegas,” he Tweeted. “My prayers are with all. Gratitude for the officer’s response.”
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes also offered sympathy and prayers for “the families of those who lost their lives [and] those recovering or whose lives hang in the balance.”
Reyes added: “As has been the case with other mass shootings that have occurred worldwide in the recent past, perhaps out of the horror and shock of such senseless violence, we can unite in love and unity as a nation and as a global community to demonstrate support for those suffering and to condemn all such acts of unmitigated evil.”
Reyes said that he had ”reached out to Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt to offer my concern and condolences and any help they may need. He expressed his appreciation to the State for its concern.”
Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, which specializes in trauma, is a member of the Hospital Corporation of America and has sister facilities in Utah. It put out a call through the network for volunteers in Utah who could help treat the influx of patients.
While there were several nurses and physicians willing to go, none had been dispatched to Las Vegas as of Monday evening, said spokeswoman Audrey Glasby.
Danielle Wilcox, a spokeswoman for St. Mark’s Hospital in Cottonwood Heights, which belongs to the network, said that when she spoke to officials from Las Vegas the morning after the tragedy, staffing needs had been met. The hospital did, however, send down additional medical equipment for blood transfusions and warming.
Dixie Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Terri Draper said the hospital had not received any patients from the tragedy, though it did receive one patient who had been involved in another trauma incident and was diverted from a hospital in Las Vegas.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint offered “deepest condolences and heartfelt prayers” to those affected by “the horrific events in Las Vegas,” said spokesman Eric Hawkins.
“We pray for those who are mourning the loss of loved ones, and for those who are seeking to recover from the physical and emotional wounds they are suffering. May God bless them with the peace and comfort only He can provide in such tragic and heartbreaking moments,” he stated.
The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City also called for prayers, but more pointedly urged Congress to finally act to address rising gun-related violence.
“The sad reality is that people are being killed by guns in our country at an alarming and consistent rate. We can no longer pretend that guns are not involved in some way or another. We need to address the prevalence of guns in our neighborhoods and the disturbing trend of viewing the proliferation of these dangerous weapons as not only acceptable, but desirable,” according to the statement released by Diocese Government Liaison Jean Hill.
“We call on Congress to not only mourn the victims of gun violence in Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, Orlando, and elsewhere, but to take concrete action to limit access to the weapons that make these tragedies increasingly more likely and more devastating,” the statement from Utah‘s second-largest faith concluded.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, issued a statement extending his “most sincere condolences to the victims of violence in Las Vegas.”
“What we witnessed last night was a tragedy without precedent,” Hatch said. “Today, our thoughts are with those who have lost: the families, loved ones, and friends whose lives will never be the same as a result of this shooting. Our hearts are with you, and so are our prayers. We love you. We stand by you today — and we ask that God may stand by you always.”
Initially, Las Vegas police played down any indication that the massacre at the Mandalay Bay hotel “Route 91” country music festival was a terrorist act. Instead, they believed it was a “lone wolf” attack carried out by 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, of Mesquite, Nev., who purportedly killed himself as police closed in on him.
Gunfire from an automatic weapon erupted from the 32nd floor of the hotel just as singer Jason Aldean was wrapping up his performance. Along with more than 50 deaths, one an off-duty Las Vegas police officer, an estimated 400 were injured — including another off-duty officer, a woman from Los Angeles, who was shot in the knee.
It was not immediately known if any Utahns possibly attending the event were hurt.
SWAT officers located the room from where the shots were fired, forced entry and found Paddock dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.
Despite claims of responsibility by the Islamic jihadist group ISIS, the FBI repeatedly stated Monday that it had initially found nothing to link Paddock to any international terrorist group.
— Tribune reporter Mariah Noble contributed to this story.