One year on, Vegas in the dark


What goes in Vegas stays in Vegas. Monday is the first anniversary of the worst mass shooting in American history:

Marquees at resorts along the Las Vegas Strip will go dark Monday at about the time a year ago when a gunman began a shooting rampage that left 58 people dead and hundreds more injured.

As locals and visitors alike remember the massacre, two new memorials serve as vivid, tangible tributes to the 58 people who died.

Work has been underway at the Community Healing Garden in downtown Las Vegas, transforming a temporary memorial into a permanent remembrance.

The garden, quickly created in the aftermath of the shooting, is now enhanced with features such as a large pair of angel’s wings. The initials of all the victims have been etched into the stone…

Marquees along the Strip will go dark at 10:01 p.m. in a tribute that will last several minutes. The iconic signs also went dark on Oct 8, 2017, one week following the horrific tragedy at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.

At 10:05 p.m., the time at which the first shots rang out, the names of the 58 victims will be read at the Community Healing Garden.

As I wrote in my original post, “What does one say in the face of horror that unfolded yesterday?” A lot has been said in the aftermath, including on this blog, but the anniversary of the massacre is as good a time as any to remember that despite seemingly thorough and far reaching investigations by the local and federal authorities, much about the event remains a mystery. As one can imagine with a prominent crime, there are many conspiracy theories in circulation; unlike, say, the JFK assassination, none of them however can muster much evidence of any sort, however weak and tangential.

The shooter, Stephen Paddock, remains a cipher. A lone gambler makes for a strange lone assassin. The local law enforcement had concluded its ten months long investigation without being able to present an explanation why Paddock shot up the country music concert, killing 58 and wounding more than 500 others. Why at all? Why this particular concert? Unlike most terrorists or shooters, Paddock did not leave behind any manifestos or social media trails of complaints. Despite both sides of politics trying to pin him on the other (or even on ISIS), to the best of our knowledge he was an atheist with no strong views or interests. Was he mentally unbalanced? Overmedicated? Lashing out after gambling losses? What normal and balanced person guns down strangers by the hundreds in a premeditated and well planned way and in cold blood?

As human beings we need to make sense of events. Why do things happen? What motivates the actors? Explanations can’t bring people back, but they can help bring order to a cold and random universe. But not in this case. One year on, as the families and friends gather to remember the lives lost that night, the massacre resembles nothing better than a meteorite strike from the blue sky; an accident, a natural catastrophe; an act of man like an act of God. And that’s not enough.