Las Vegas Sun

March 22, 2018

Currently: 62° — Complete forecast

Unbreakable Vegas: In traumatized city, we all hold the key to easing pain

A smile, a kind word and a show of courtesy can go a long way at any time.

In Las Vegas right now, they’re invaluable.

Since 10:05 p.m. last Sunday, when the first of several streams of gunfire erupted from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay, tens of thousands of people in our community have been directly or indirectly affected by the trauma of that terrible night. We’re a city contending with deep emotional pain, and it’s more critical than ever for us to support each other.

Think about the breadth of this tragedy. Tens of thousands of people were either at the scene or dealt with its heart-shattering aftermath — victims and other concert-goers, Metro officers, first responders, hospital medical staffs, security officials at resorts near the Route 91 Harvest Festival grounds who aided those fleeing from the gunshots, staff and management of Mandalay Bay who guided their guests to safety in the resort, ride-share drivers and passersby who used their vehicles as an improvised fleet of ambulances, and more.

Many thousand more would face the fear and anxiety of the evening at a greater distance, most notably the families of the dead and wounded. Meanwhile, up and down the Strip, resort staff members scrambled to shelter visitors amid what turned out to be false reports of shooters at multiple properties and explosions along Las Vegas Boulevard.

The ripple-like rings of those affected go on and on. Untold numbers of friends, co-workers and neighbors of victims and others at the scene grieved last week and will continue to do so. The spouses and relatives of emergency responders faced the abject terror of not knowing whether their loved ones were safe as the attack played out. Even if that uncertainty lasted only a moment, it’s unimaginably awful.

Similarly, the health care workers who so heroically and efficiently saved lives in the face of overwhelming numbers of injured — and who have continued that fight every minute since the shooting — will have to wrestle with this experience and will need the help and support of their families and this community.

The list of the affected goes on and on. Even those who didn’t see the tragedy first- or secondhand had to contend with the pain, sadness and terror of knowing that the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history happened in their own backyard.

And thus, neighbors need neighbors more than ever. We’re all hurting in some way, some of us much more than others.

Having closely experienced cruelty of unspeakable proportions, we need an assurance that humanity will prevail.

We closely experienced cruelty of unspeakable proportions, but because of that night we also have overwhelming proof of the goodness of this community and that humanity prevails.

We should remind our children, and ourselves, that when these horrible events happened there were heroes literally everywhere.

That matters. And that is a source of strength.

In fact, on that night, the only person who was alone was the shooter — we all had each other and we all came together. No rain of gunfire could break our bonds.

Going forward, we will need to continue providing support and sympathy to everyone who crosses our path, because it will be hard for all of us.

Las Vegas has responded to the tragedy with an extraordinary outpouring of assistance. We’ll never forget the long lines of people who turned out to give blood, or the good Samaritans who drove carloads of water, food, blankets and other supplies to concertgoers sheltered at the Thomas & Mack Center after the shooting.

We showed our heart to the victims, to those who responded to the scene and to the world.

Now, as our community heals, let’s keep showing our heart to each other through everyday acts of kindness to our neighbors. From offering common courtesies to initiating conversations with someone who’s upset or offering a warm hug, everything will help.

We didn’t choose to endure the pain we’ve experienced since Sunday. But we can do our part to ease it.

For a list of counseling services available in the Las Vegas valley, please visit