The investigation is still in progress.
So far it looks like the person who decided to kill others acted on his own, paid for everything used, and left no obvious clue for his reasons.
I could speculate, claiming that he was driven to murder by watching too many game shows. Or being an accountant. Or having been born in Iowa. I won’t.
Instead, I’ll assume that we really don’t know why he started killing others. And that law enforcement folks are still working on the case:
- “Las Vegas Police: No Other Suspects In October Massacre, And No Motive”
NPR (January 19, 2018)
My plans for today did not include writing about mass murder on the Las Vegas Strip and rush hour panic in Wimbledon.
Instead of trying to ignore what is now international headline news, I decided to look for whatever useful facts might be filtering through.
I’ll share what I found, along with what I think about the events.
How I feel about them is — sad, for what happened in Nevada. No words can console folks who lost family and friends there. I won’t try.
The Wimbledon panic? I’m not entirely sure what I feel about that.
Route 91 Harvest: Death at a Music Festival
(From BBC News, used w/o permission.)
(Area around Route 91 Harvest’s Sunday evening performance.)
Jason Aldean and his group were performing at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival last night.
He was singing “When She Says Baby” at about 10:08 p.m. local time. That’s when folks at the outdoor concert started dying.
A few minutes later, dozens were dead or dying. Hundreds were injured. The person who killed them was dead, too.
He had been in a room on the 32nd floor of a luxury resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada.
What I’ve read in the news strongly suggests that the person whose actions resulted in those deaths intended to do so. Assuming that he had a motive seems reasonable. Thinking that his motive, whatever it was, made sense — is not reasonable. Not at all.
Less than a day later, we’re seeing the predictable aftereffects of mass murder.
Running Toward Danger
Details vary each time, but it’s pretty much the same mix: emotional meltdown, crass opportunism, public duty, and folks helping others. (June 4, 2017)
I prefer remembering that some folks at the concert ran toward the dead and injured, helping as best they could. It’s noteworthy; but not, I think, all that unusual.
My hope is that many folks will continue to respond as others have: with compassion and good sense. Given what’s happened in places like Manchester and London, I think it is a reasonable hope.
There’s also the usual hysteria and opportunism. This isn’t a perfect world.
A few politicos and journalists are at least implying that mass murders happen because we don’t all do what they want.
A media executive wrote that at least some of the dead at the music festival deserved no sympathy because they had the ‘wrong’ political views.
Making the statement in a way that could be traced to its source seems profoundly unwise. The executive is apparently looking for another position now.
I don’t doubt that the ‘no sympathy’ person was sincere. I have seen similar remarks about ‘those people’ expressed on social media.
Who ‘those people’ are depends on who’s writing. My interests being what they are, I see the occasional rabid conservative and wacky liberal. Or wacky conservative and rapid liberal. I’m quite sure they don’t represent everyone with such views.
News services are reporting the usual mix of reactions and opinions, with a sprinkling of facts. A few, happily, are sharing details of what folks who are not mass murderers or their victims do in situations like this.
“…People started to scream as bullets sprayed into a crowd of thousands of attendees at the three-day Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas.
“Some people started to scatter and search for cover.
“But some people stayed behind — or even made their way to the chaotic and deadly scene — to help the victims of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history….”
(Lindsey Bever, Wesley Lowery; Inspired Life; Washington Post (October 2, 2017))
“…Let’s focus instead on the many lives that ended on the Strip, and on the hundreds of people who tried their best to help one another as bullets and blood flew….
“…The strangers shielding one another from shrapnel, the locals guiding refugees in shorts and blue jeans to escape routes, the man gamely transporting a wounded victim by wheelbarrow….”
(Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune (October 2, 2017))
“…Concert-goer Mike McGarry told Reuters he lay on top of his children when the shots rang out.
“‘They’re 20, I’m 53. I lived a good life,’ he said….”
(James Cook, BBC News (October 2, 2017))
What happened in Wimbledon was: different.
Wimbledon: Timing is Important
(From @cyclingbetting, via BBC News, used w/o permission.)
(“Some passengers forced open the doors of train”
“Wimbledon station commuters flee train in ‘Bible’ panic”
(October 2, 2017)
“…It happened outside Wimbledon station in south-west London at 08:30 BST as a man apparently began reading lines aloud from the Bible.
“Commuters became scared when the man also began saying ‘death is not the end’, a passenger said.
Rail power lines were cut as passengers ‘self-evacuated’, police said….”
The good news here is that nobody died. Apparently nobody was hurt. Under the circumstances, that’s quite good news. The commuter train’s unscheduled stop, during rush hour, could have ended badly.
As it is, the worst damage seems to be a 12 hour disruption of rail service. I’m not surprised it took so long.
A train stopping where it normally wouldn’t might be an issue by itself. I figure folks in charge also wanted to make sure the incident really was a simple misunderstanding, before going back to normal operations.
Nobody had been arrested the last time I checked BBC News. My guess is that the perpetrator didn’t expect the reaction he got. Why he was reading aloud is a good question.
That line, “death is not the end,” might be from someone’s Bible. It’s not in mine. Not those exact words.
It reminds me a bit of Wisdom 3:1–3 and 1 Corinthians 15:36–49. Also what Carly Simon, Fr. Bede Jarrett, William Penn, and Rossiter W. Raymond said about death and horizons. (October 9, 2016)
The fellow’s choice of venue for a Scripture reading seems — odd. It’s not something I’d have done. Not that I’ve always been particularly unobtrusive while in public.
I’ve done a few daft things in my day. Quite a few, actually. ‘Quiet and reserved’ probably aren’t how many remember me.
But I think I might have had the good sense not to spout scripture about death and ending in a crowded commuter train. During rush hour. In a city that’s endured terrorist attacks recently. Attacks, plural.
The most recent was happily non-lethal, but was less than three weeks ago. On public transportation. (BBC News (September 15, 2017)
Monday rush hour was not a good time for uplifting quotes about death.
Human Life and Death
Deliberately ending innocent human lives is a bad idea. Deliberately ending not-so-innocent human lives isn’t a particularly good idea, either.
I see human life as sacred: all human life. That’s one reason why suicide is a really bad idea. My life — and everyone else’s — is a gift from God. I have no authority to end my own life. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2258–2317)
I’ve discussed murder, suicide and capital punishment before. (January 11, 2017; October 14, 2016)
Briefly, human life is sacred: so killing an innocent person is wrong. The divine image is in each of us. It’s there no matter who we are, who our ancestors are, or what we’ve done. (Genesis 1:27; Catechism, 357, 361, 369–370, 1700, 1730, 2268–2269, 1929, 2273–2274, 2276–2279)
I decide what I do with my life and the lives of those around me. So does everyone. What we do is up to each of us: for good or ill. (Catechism, 1701–1709, 2258)
My life is precious. So is yours. That’s why either of us defending our lives, using the least force necessary, is okay: even if that action results in the attacker’s death. (Catechism, 2263–2267)
That’s not even close to killing someone because I think maybe he’ll hurt someone else, eventually.
Using Good Judgment — Not Being Judgmental
I see suicide as a really bad idea.
If I acted on the occasional suicidal impulse I experience — that’s another topic — my options after that would be very limited.
I’d be, in effect, going directly to my particular judgment — after murdering myself. No time to reconsider and repent, no time for anything. Knowing what I do, that kind of trouble I don’t need. (Catechism, 1021–1022, 2280–2283)
However, I won’t heap abuse on the retired accountant who killed those folks and then himself.
I sure won’t say that he is roasting in everlasting hellfire. I won’t say that about anyone who committed suicide. It’s one rule I have little to no trouble following.
“We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.”
What he did was a very bad idea. What happens to him now isn’t up to me. Considering my imperfect record, telling God how someone else should be judged would not be prudent. (Matthew 6:14–15, 7:1–5)
And that’s yet another topic.
News, views, and background:
- “CBS fires VP for writing ‘Republican gun toters’ killed in Las Vegas don’t deserve sympathy”
Mary Hui; Arts and Entertainment; Washington Post (October 2, 2017)
- “Thousands fled the hail of gunfire in Las Vegas. These people stayed to try to save lives.”
Lindsey Bever, Wesley Lowery; Inspired Life; Washington Post (October 2, 2017)
- “Amid slaughter in Las Vegas, the heroism in Aldean’s Army”
Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune (October 2, 2017)
- “Las Vegas shooting: Country music stars react”
BBC Newsbeat (October 2, 2017)
- BBC News (October 2, 2017)
How I see:
- “Death in Charlottesville”
(August 14, 2017)
- “Death in Manchester”
(May 24, 2017)
- “London: Death, Hope, and Love”
(June 4, 2017)
- “Olathe: Death and Hope”
(February 27, 2017)
- “Deciding Who Dies”
(January 11, 2017 )