Terror and panic were slowly replaced by grief and outrage Monday as the nation awoke to the news that a gunman had opened fire on concertgoers in Las Vegas at about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, killing 59 and wounding more than 500.
The rampage becomes the worst mass shooting in U.S. history and a painful reminder of past incidents, including the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
As the names of the dead were slowly being released late Monday, Connecticut lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, and two mothers whose children died at Sandy Hook took to social media to denounce the violence and call for tougher gun laws.
Nelba Marquez-Green, the mother of 6-year-old Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, who was killed along with 19 classmates and six school staff members in Newtown, posted heartrending tweets about the Las Vegas massacre.
“Guess what folks? Gun violence and grief hurt in EVERY zip code. In every color. Grieving mothers need your help. #LasVegas #Newtown,” one of the tweets read.
Since 2012, Marquez-Greene and others have lobbied for gun control.
“As a mom who had to bury a child - I could care less about perp color,” wrote Marquez-Greene. “But how come we never talk about angry White men w/guns? How come we only want to talk when it fits our own narrative? Please. Help mothers keep children safe from gun violence.”
In 2013 Marquez-Greene established the Ana Grace Project, a community organization dedicated to promoting love, community and connection for every child and family. In July, the foundation established a new base of operations at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.
Donna Soto’s daughter Vicki, a first-grade teacher, was among the 26 people killed at the Newtown school. She tweeted “When will it end” with the hashtags #sandyhook and #lasvegas.
The gunman, identified as Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, perched on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel-casino, rained heavy gunfire down on a crowd of more than 22,000 at an outdoor country music festival, turning the expanse into a killing ground from which there was little escape. He died at the scene of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, law enforcement officials told the Associated Press.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman took a measured approach in their responses to Sunday’s shootings, offering condolences to the victims and gratitude to police who responded quickly.
“We are incredibly grateful to the first responders and the everyday citizens who bravely risked their lives to save others,” Malloy said. “We send our sincerest condolences to those who have lost loved ones and we pray for the recovery of the survivors.”
But the state’s Democratic lawmakers and gun control proponents denounced the shootings as a byproduct of a Congress that has refused to address gun control.
“It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic,” Murphy said in a statement released Monday. “There are, and the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference. It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something.”
U.S. Rep. John Larson referred to the Sandy Hook shootings in his statement, which pointed out that Congress has not taken a single vote on “commonsense gun violence measures” since the day she died.
“With each day that passes, Congress remains complicit in these acts of violence,” Larson said. “Silence and prayers for the fallen are simply not enough.”
New Britain Police Chief James Wardwell spent a few anxious hours waiting to hear from close friends in the Las Vegas Metro Police Department.
“They are very dear friends,” Wardwell said. “I was able to contact them. They are doing their jobs.”
New Britain officers continually train for active shooters and for a variety of circumstances, he said. They also work with entities in the city to provide training for employees while also honing their own skills, he added.
But the reality is, he said, “We can’t predict for everything. But what we can do is to train to respond and adapt to any given situation to maximize the protection of life.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all of them,” Wardwell added.
As the investigation continues and more is learned about the gunman and his victims, those who lost loved ones will likely carry the pain forever, Marquez-Green said on social media.
“You don’t recover from this- as a mother, brother, father. You manage. But there is no recovery. I am heartbroken. #LasVegas #Newtown.”
Material from The Associated Press was included in this story.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or firstname.lastname@example.org.