At least 50 people have been killed and more than 200 others injured when a gunman opened fire on an outdoor music festival on Las Vegas’ famous entertainment strip.
Police have locked down parts of the Strip after a high-powered weapon fired shots at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, near the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.
“At this time there is in excess of 50 deceased and over 200 injured individuals,” Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department tweeted several hours after the shooting.
The death toll, which police emphasised was preliminary and tentative, would make the attack the deadliest mass shooting in US history, eclipsing last year’s massacre of 49 people at an Orlando night club.
Sherriff Joseph Lombardo said officers located 64-year-old gunman Stephen Paddock on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and the Las Vegas resident was killed.
Paddock is not known to be connected to any militant groups, he said.
Sherriff Lombardo said it was believed the shooter acted alone but police mounted a search for and located a woman called Marilou Danley, who is believed to be the suspect’s room-mate.
Two off-duty police officers who were attending the concert were among the dead, Sherriff Lombardo said.
He said another off-duty officer was in critical condition and another was injured.
US President Donald Trump tweeted: “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!”.
The Governor of Nevada Brian Sandoval has called the mass shooting “a tragic and heinous act of violence”.
And the company behind the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, MGM Resorts, released a statement saying “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims”.
“Law enforcement requested that we put hotels in the vicinity on lockdown to ensure guest safety,” the company said.
“We will provide more information as it becomes available.”
Concert-goers reported seeing muzzle flashes from the upper floors of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino across Las Vegas Boulevard from the country music festival and the sound of what they described as automatic gunfire.
Witnesses said they saw multiple victims as they fled the gunfire raining down on the concert venue.
Some later huddled in the basement of the nearby Tropicana hotel-casino.
“I heard what we thought was firecrackers, and we looked to the right of us and there was a woman down covered in blood,” a witness identified as Emily told local Fox affiliate KLAS.
“From that point on we just ran. We hid wherever we could, and now in an airplane hangar.
“We had no idea, it was just rapid fire. We all thought we were dead. It was awful. It just kept going, and going and going.
“It felt like an eternity but it went for at least several minutes.
“Each place we hid for a couple of minutes, and we moved to a new location and the fire would start again.”
Shot man ‘was asking me for help’
A witness who gave her name as Christine was in tears as she told local TV that she saw a man shot in front of her.
“They were trying to take him out and he was all bloody, and unconscious,” she said.
“My friend was helping him out and they got him out, and we ran.”
She said people were hiding wherever they could, including under her car.
“Everyone was telling us to run as fast as you can. There were people hiding under my car for cover,” she said.
“There was a gentleman who was shot and he was asking me for help.”
Some police officers took cover behind their vehicles while others carrying assault rifles ran into the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.
Gunshots for ‘four to five minutes’
Kodiak Yazzie, 36, said he and his girlfriend were watching Jason Aldean’s performance at the festival when he heard what sounded like fireworks.
The music stopped temporarily and started up again before another round of pops sent the performers ducking for cover and fleeing the stage.
Another witness told KLAS that the scene was “absolute chaos”.
“My friend started complaining that something had happened to her,” the witness said.
“We found a wound in her right shoulder. She had been hit. We eventually got her into an ambulance.”
Monique Dumas was attending a concert with her sister and said she could hear gunfire for the “four to five minutes” it took her to leave the venue.
“We were watching Jason Aldean at the end of the stage, about six rows from the front, when my sister and I heard what sounded like a bottle breaking or dropping to the ground and you kind of just looked around and then seconds later you hear like a ‘pop, pop, pop’,” she said.
“Your first reaction, you think it’s like fireworks or firecrackers.
“It happens again … so everyone crouched and got down.”
Clint, who works as a valet at Mandalay Bay, was in the hotel at the time and told local media he “heard this huge sound”.
“It sounded like a jackhammer,” he said.
“We just heard a burst of guns, we didn’t know what it was. And then we started seeing more glass coming down, more glass.”
Alex Cann from Melbourne, who is staying at the MGM Grand hotel for a bucks party weekend, said he saw people running through the hotel crying.
“We were just having a go on the pokie machines and I actually went to the bathroom and saw a guy in there who said [there’s been] a shooting,” he told the ABC.
“We were at the back of the hotel close to the strip, so we were close to where it happened … and people were just running through the hotel crying, we didn’t know what was going on.
“It just got a bit chaotic, we got a bit scared so we went straight back to our room, we weren’t sure if the actual gunman was in our hotel.
“Everyone was running around crying.”
He said his group was leaving tomorrow, and would have to drive to San Diego as the airport had been shut down.
Flights were temporarily halted at McCarran International Airport because of the shooting, the airport said on Twitter.