The act of terror that occurred in Las Vegas on Sunday night is now the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, with at least 59 people killed (3 of which were Canadian) and more than 500 injured. The U.S. and the rest of the world remain in shock over the incident, with the death toll continuing to rise and several questions still unanswered.
The terrorist was identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a white male from Mesquite, Nevada. He opened fire on a crowd of country music fans from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel using a machine gun.
At first, people thought the burst sounds were just fireworks; but as Jason Aldean, the musician who was performing at the time, ran for cover, people in the audience knew they were under attack. Immediately, they began clearing the area or ducking for cover in hopes that they wouldn't be caught in the rain of fire.
In moments of extreme violence such as this, there does exist a general protocol that police services follow. But because such events are relatively rare, many people may not be familiar with them.
Mark Pugash, the director of corporate communications with the Toronto Police, told Global News that civilians in an attack situation should try to evade the threat as best as possible.
"Our advice generally is to clear the area as quickly as you can," he said. "If that is not an option, then hide. And in the very worst situation, which we would expect to be exceedingly rare, you have to remember that if the object of the person is to kill, then you may well have to fight for your life."
Based on that advice, it can be said that the Route 91 festival goers caught in the shooting conducted themselves honourably. Despite the grave situation, people were helping each other clear the area and find safe spots to take cover. That's a testament to their fortitude and heroism.
It's common for people to be paralyzed with shock when faced with a situation like that, but security experts say that civilians might be quicker to react if they prepared for the worst before every trip. Robin Cox, a professor at Royal Roads University in B.C., tells Global News that having a safety mindset is important whenever travelling abroad.
"In this day and age, without dwelling and operating from a place of fear, but rather from a place of preparedness, whenever you’re going to a concert or anywhere where there’s a large gathering, it’s important to think about where the exits are and how you would get there from where you’re located. That kind of mental rehearsal or preparation is what will help."
With terrorism on the rise across the globe, it's important for Canadians (and every traveller for that matter) to be vigilant of their surroundings when going abroad.