Pope Francis was “saddened to learn of the shooting in Las Vegas” and “sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all those affected by this senseless tragedy.”
This was the message sent on the pope’s behalf by the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, to the bishop of Las Vegas, Joseph Anthony Pepe, hours after the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival earlier today in which at least 50 people were killed and some 200 injured by a lone gunman.
He said the pope “commends the efforts of the police and emergency service personnel” and “offers the promise of his prayers for the injured and for all who have died, entrusting them to the merciful love of Almighty God.”
The attack was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. More than 400 victims were taken to the hospital, authorities said. SWAT officers using explosives stormed the gunman's hotel room and found he had killed himself, authorities said.
The gunman was identified as Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada.
There was no immediate word on the motive for the attack. The U.S. Homeland Security Department said there was no "specific credible threat" involving other public venues in the U.S.
The country music star Jason Aldean was performing Sunday night at the end of the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival in front of a crowd of 22,000 when the gunman opened fire from inside the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.
As the bullets ran rampant, thousands in the crowd fled in every direction. Couples held hands running through the dirt lot. Faces were brushed with shock and confusion, tears and screams.
Police shut down the usually busy Las Vegas Boulevard and authorities across the state and federal ranks converged on the scene as dozens of ambulances ferried those struck by gunfire.
Nearby Interstate 15 and flights at McCarran International Airport were briefly closed. Hospital emergency rooms were jammed with victims delivered by ambulance. Others loaded the wounded into their cars and drove them to hospitals.
President Donald Trump tweeted: "My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!"
Before Sunday, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history took place in June 2016, when a gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people
Sunday's shooting came more than four months after a suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, that killed 22 people.
This story includes updates from the Associated Press.