By Katie Krahulik &
News Editor /
Assistant News Editor
As of Monday night, 59 people were confirmed dead in addition to 527 victims injured after the largest mass shooting in modern American history devastated Las Vegas, Nevada. Stephen Paddock – the lone gunman – opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Sunday, Oct. 1 shortly after 10 p.m. PT, targeting the audience of a Jason Aldean concert near the resort.
Genesis Ibarra, a junior journalism major at Hofstra, is a resident of Las Vegas. A haunting message from her best friend sent her into pure terror Monday morning.
“My heart started racing as if I was in the middle of running a mile,” she said. “I was just like sprinting at the thought of who is hurt. Is there somebody I know? Are they dead? Where are they? What happened? Is anybody trying to help them?”
Within minutes, the massacre flooded social media accounts across the country. “It feels surreal to have your home become a hashtag on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. It’s so weird to think that the place you grew up is now on everybody’s profile picture because that’s their way of dealing with problems nowadays,” Ibarra said. “It’s the thing your parents worry about – to stop you from going to concerts, and then it happens in your hometown, in a place where you’ve gone to a concert.”
Jason Aldean was mid-performance shortly after 10 p.m. PT when witnesses began to hear gunshots and see the flashes of gunfire. The concert was just one of several shows scheduled for a three-day festival, Route 91 Harvest, which attracted tens of thousands of country fans to the city.
The gunman, Paddock, identified as a 64-year-old resident of Mesquite, Nevada by authorities, is reported to have been in possession of at least 17 guns in his Mandalay Bay hotel room. Nevada does not require gun owners to be licensed or register their firearms. Additionally, there are no limitations on the number of guns an individual can possess.
“When events like this happen we work with the Division of Student Affairs Information Technology to identify students from affected areas. We reach out to these students to offer support and remind them of Hofstra resources,” said Colin Sullivan, director of communication for Student Affairs.
Ibarra, who was contacted by a counselor from the Student Health and Counseling Center (SHACC), felt that the university was doing a good job of supporting impacted students.
This weekend, Hofstra will host its annual Fall Festival featuring headliner Lil’ Wayne. The event is expected to draw a large crowd of students, faculty, alumni, staff, family and friends. In light of the recent event, Director of Public Safety Karen O’Callaghan wants to reassure the community that safety is the university’s priority. “It is a closed event, so we know who’s here. Any security we have is going to be sufficient for that event,” she said. A statement from Public Safety read, “Fall Festival is a ticketed event that is only open to members of the Hofstra community, not the general public. The University’s Department of Public Safety safeguards our campus, and has strong working partnerships with local law enforcement.”
In the United States, mass shootings are an all too familiar occurrence. After such a tragedy takes place, the public often looks for answers and demands more preventative measures be implemented.
Professor Eric Freedman, of the Hofstra Law School, is an expert in constitutional law. In response to future gun restrictions, he said, “One can always hope, but the record so far doesn’t give reason for optimism.There has been a number of very dramatic shootings including Sandy Hook and others in which the instant reaction has been a call for more stringent gun control, but in fact proposals to do that have been defeated.”
According to Freedman, if Nevada wanted to outlaw the kinds of weapons that were used in this assault, there would be no constitutional problem. The problem, he said, lies with the policy-makers.
“[This] is something where people go to feel safe, and have fun and experience life, but they’re doing the opposite now. They’re fearing for their lives. They’re fearing for their family and friends, and it’s insane,” Ibarra said.
Student Affairs encourages struggling students to utilize campus resources. The university statement said, “The Student Health and Counseling Center is always available to support students who would like to seek out support. The Center’s hours are listed below and students should call (516) 463-6745 if they would like to connect with someone who can assist. If someone reaches out via email to StudentAffairs@Hofstra.edu the leadership within the Division of Student Affairs would coordinate outreach to support any student in need.”
The SHACC is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday.