The New Yorker:
A document, recently released—“LVMPD Criminal Investigative Report of the 1 October Mass Casualty Shooting,” to give it its official name—offering the local-police-department summary of the Las Vegas gun massacre of last year, makes for reading that is both hallucinatory and tragic, and in another way absurd. The tragic part comes from the earnest police effort to quantify, tabulate, and graph the actual, horrific effects of machine-gun bullets ripping apart human bodies. We know that each name on the map of casualties—fifty-eight deaths, alongside more than eight hundred wounded, victims left helpless as an invisible storm of death rained down on them during a country-music concert—is a center point from which an unimaginable arc of suffering and grief radiates. But what are the investigators to do but dutifully mark them down? Drawing lines around bodies is what police are supposed to do, in domestic homicides and mob murders. What else is there to do here?
At the same time, it’s hallucinatory to see how little all of the admirable and well-understood procedures that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department—like those of every police department in the country, evolved to deal with violent crime, including mass shooters—could do to halt the massacre before so much damage had been done. In the report, the language of “crime scene analysts,” “lock interrogation documents,” and “key witnesses” is intact even in describing how Hell opened a portal on a happy country-music crowd. This sergeant reached out to that security expert, who spoke to this member of the SWAT team, and decisions were made to force entry—but was that “service cart” in front of the door perhaps an improvised explosive device?—and, meanwhile, a man with incredibly powerful weapons was killing helpless people. The massacre ended when the murderer put a gun in his own mouth and pulled the trigger. (“Entrance: roof of mouth with abundant soot”—the autopsy of Stephen Paddock, the killer, explains.) The many obscene weapons of mass death he had collected are photographed as they were found in his hotel room, with their specifications delicately included in the captions: “AR-10 .308/7.62 with a bipod and red dot scope. No magazine.”
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