Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2017

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Victim files lawsuit in Las Vegas shooting

A 21-year-old woman wounded in the Route 91 Harvest festival mass shooting has filed a lawsuit against several entities with connections to the tragedy.

Paige Gasper, a California college student, was struck by a bullet during the concert Oct. 1 at the MGM Resorts International-owned Las Vegas Village. The targets of her suit include MGM, concert promoter Live Nation Entertainment and the estate of the shooter, Stephen Paddock.

Paddock opened fire from a room on the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay, across the street from the festival grounds, killing 58 people and injuring nearly 500. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

MGM said it would respond to the lawsuit through the appropriate legal channels.

“The tragic incident that took place on Oct. 1 was a meticulously planned, evil senseless act. As our company and city work through the healing process, our primary focus and concern is taking actions to support the victims and their families, our guests and employees, and cooperating with law enforcement,” MGM Resorts spokeswoman Debra DeShong said in a statement.

“We are grateful for all who came to the victims’ aid that evening, including our employees, first responders, the police and citizens who acted in countless ways to assist,” DeShong said. “Out of respect for the victims, we are not going to try this case in the public domain, and we will give our response through the appropriate legal channels.”

In the shooting, Gasper was hit in her right armpit by a bullet that traveled through her body, shattering ribs and lacerating her liver before exiting, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit faults MGM Resorts and Mandalay Corp. for not being aware Paddock had taken multiple guns to his room and not taking reasonable care in protecting and safeguarding people at Mandalay Bay.

The lawsuit also alleges that Live Nation and MGM failed to adequately design the festival grounds, noting a lack of exits in case of an emergency, and failed to train employees on an appropriate plan of action for an emergency.

The lawsuit also names Slide Fire Solutions, the maker of so-called “bump stocks,” a rapid-fire device that allows a semi-automatic gun to fire more like a fully automatic weapon. According to Metro Police, a number of the devices were found among the arsenal of weapons in Paddock’s room.

Muhammad Aziz, an attorney for Gasper, said a big part of the lawsuit deals with the timeline of events.

Metro Police originally said the gunman fired into the crowd and stopped after a hotel security guard showed up in the hallway, prompting Paddock to fire at him through the door. Police subsequently said Paddock opened fire on the security guard some six minutes before he started shooting into the festival crowd.

“The six minutes is a long time,” Aziz said. “Did he radio the front desk or wherever the security operation is? Was there a 911 call? The whole chain of command seemed to have broken down here.”

In a statement on Tuesday, DeShong noted that the investigation has “a lot of moving parts” and that “many facts are still unverified and continue to change.”

“We cannot be certain about the most recent timeline that has been communicated publicly, and we believe what is currently being expressed may not be accurate,” DeShong said.

Gasper’s mother, Heather Selken, said the lawsuit is not about money, but rather is about ensuring the response to an incident like the shooting is improved.

“People will find a way to hurt and destroy you,” Selken said. “We are certain that change in safety needs to happen to honor those lives lost and for those that were forever changed.”

“When we gather in masses, our protection should be paramount,” she said.

Gasper attends Sonoma State University in California and is set to graduate in May with a degree in psychology.