Las Vegas, Nevada — A country music festival in Las Vegas descended into chaos Sunday evening as a lone gunman turned Sin City into a war zone as he opened fire onto concert goers killing 58 and wounded 515 in what is now one of the worst mass shootings in the history of the United States.
22,000 innocent civilians were trapped in a buzzsaw of what was described as “nonstop gunfire” initiated by 64-year-old Stephen Paddock from his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino and resort that overlooked the festival grounds. The motive of Paddock, who has no criminal background or supposed ties to international terrorism, is still very unclear. Yet, what is becoming quite apparent is that Paddock premeditated this attack.
Cell-phone video of the shooting began to appear across the media spectrum depicting the sights and sounds of sheer panic and terror of the assault with innocent people screaming in fear and pain as a crescendo of what sounded like automatic gunfire ripped into the concert-goers as they scrambled to find cover or bravely shielded their loved ones with their own bodies.
The horror of it all on vivid display for the world to see.
This prompted many in the media to assume that Paddock had used some sort of “belt-fed machine gun” to rain death down onto the crowd. However, as a Green Beret veteran I along with some other Special Operations veterans heard something different.
Lets look at the video from concert-goer, Shaun Hoff, uploaded by CNN
This video obviously starts after what I assume was an initial volley of automatic fire from Paddock’s 32nd floor hotel room. But what is telling is the next burst of fire, it lasts seven seconds before it ceases then in what can be assumed is a magazine change from the shooter, the carnage starts all over again. Yet, was this a belt-fed automatic machine gun?
The timbre of the volley of bullets snapping through the air, for me, discounts a larger caliber bullet like the 7.62mm round used by most heavy machine guns. Having been shot at by this round during my time overseas I can attest that it doesn’t sound like that heavy round flying in the air.
What it does sound like is a smaller caliber round like that of a 5.56mm or .223 caliber that is chambered by the AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle sold in the United States and fielded in the U.S. military under the moniker of an M-4 and M-16.
Yet, the AR-15 variants sold in the United States are not fully automatic weapons and the only variant that is, is the Special Operations version of the M-4. That is unless the AR-15 was illegally modified in some way to allow this type of constant firing.
SOFREP reached out to author and former U.S. Army Ranger sniper, Nicholas Irving for his assessment and he had this to say, “The time it takes to dump a 30 round magazine is around 3-5 seconds.” The average time between Paddock shooting was about seven to ten seconds. “The time to change the mag for an average Joe, 3 seconds for a mag[azine] on a machine gun. A belt fed [weapon] would take longer, around 5-8 seconds.” Irving continued, “A 60 round drum or belt would make more sense.”
There are various after-market weapon manufacturers that make and sell what is known as high-capacity magazines or drum magazines that can hold upwards to 60, 90, or 100 rounds of ammunition, Irving is referring to these items as being possibly used by Paddock to facilitate his gruesome act.
Paddock maintained a constant rate of gunfire for about 12 to 15 minutes which, according to the math, means he likely expended close to 1,000 rounds into the crowd. Irving also noted that there seemed to be variations in the sound of the gunfire as well stating that, “[T]he stutters at the end of the burst sound like a magazine that’s been compressed to max [capacity] finally releasing its tension causing the round to “bump” or stutter.”
Irving also noted that Paddock chose a very strategic location for his shooting spree on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, thus creating a quintessential “kill-box.”
The motives of Stephen Paddock are very unclear and since it was reported earlier that Paddock took his own life as Las Vegas Police SWAT officers breached into his hotel room. We may never know. It is still unknown as to what type of weapon was used in this attack or whether it was illegally modified to produce constant gunfire, yet what is known is that this has become the bloodiest mass shooting in American history and that we as a Nation must come together to mourn our loss and find that missing ground the U.S. needs to find a solution to this growing trend of wanton violence.
Images courtesy of: Associated Press.