An American campus is once again the target of a tragedy. A man opened fire Wednesday at a university in Las Vegas, Nevada, before being killed by police. At least three people were killed in the shooting, and another was injured. Here's what we know.
Shooting in the middle of the day
Gunshots were reported at midday (early evening French time) on Wednesday at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas campus, located about two kilometers from the famous "strip," a thoroughfare known worldwide for its casinos.
Students were gathered outside and sharing a meal when the attack happened, and "countless more lives could have been lost" had it not been for the swift action of law enforcement, Las Vegas Sheriff Kevin McMahill told reporters. Several officers, some of whom were off-duty, intervened "without hesitation within minutes," he said.
Please continue to shelter-in-place as police evacuate buildings on campus. This remains an active investigation. For any questions, please call our headquarters at 702-895-5575. pic.twitter.com/5kpqeOB0dJ
— University Police Services (@UPDSouth) December 6, 2023
The shooting caused panic on the spot. Several students told local media how they sheltered inside the buildings for long minutes. "Now we have to try to recover from this and it's sad," one student told local television station KSNV.
Three dead and one wounded
After the attack, "three of the victims were confirmed dead," the Las Vegas sheriff announced. Another person was injured and is in "stable condition", he added. At this stage, the identities of the victims have not yet been revealed by the American press.
WATCH 5 PM NEWS CONFERENCE: Get the latest information regarding the #ActiveShooter incident on the campus of UNLV on Dec. 6, 2023.
There will not be another briefing tonight. pic.twitter.com/2qdW8lNPiz
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) December 7, 2023
Gunman, academic, killed by police
While the identity of the shooter has not yet been officially revealed, the man was a 67-year-old academic whose motives remain unknown at this time, according to CNN, which cites a source familiar with the matter. The <>-year-old had "ties" to schools in Georgia and North Carolina, but his ties to the Las Vegas campus, where the shooting occurred, remain unknown. He was shot dead very quickly during a confrontation with the police.
A campus at a standstill
Shortly after the shootings, the university cancelled classes and asked all campus members to self-isolate while police evacuated the buildings one by one to ward off any further threats. University police announced, according to CNN, that the site would remain closed until the weekend. Some events, such as a college basketball game scheduled for Thursday night, have also been canceled.
Guns in question
"This is a very difficult time," Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said, denouncing the banality of gun violence in the United States.
This drama also reopens the wounds of the massacre suffered by Las Vegas in 2017, one of the worst in the history of the United States. At the time, a man killed 58 people and injured hundreds when he opened fire on a crowd at a country music concert from the 32nd floor of a hotel overlooking the event. The gunman had committed suicide.
This umpteenth American tragedy adds to the very heavy toll paid by the United States because of the proliferation of firearms on its territory and their ease of access. There are more individual guns in the country than people: one in three adults owns at least one gun and almost one in two adults live in a household with a gun.
Joe Biden's anger
The recurrence of gun violence "is not normal, and we can't let it become normal," President Joe Biden said, recalling the Gun Violence Archive's grim record.
Yesterday, in Austin and San Antonio, at least six people were killed and several more injured by a gunman – leaving families devastated, and communities forever changed. ⁰⁰And just hours ago, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas became the latest college campus to be...
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 7, 2023
"This year alone," the U.S.-based organization has recorded more than 600 attacks that have left at least four people injured or dead, and 40,000 deaths caused by firearms — the majority of them suicides.
The Democratic president once again reiterated his call to ban assault rifles and implement truly systematic background checks on people wishing to buy a firearm. But without a majority in Congress, where the House of Representatives is dominated by Republicans, this remains wishful thinking.