Hospitals, journalists and officials played familiar roles as victims and heroes made headlines. But uncertainty still surrounds the man behind the violence
When the ambulances and trucks and cars started streaming into hospitals with their human cargo, the emergency room doctors set up a system.
The walking wounded got green tags, the seriously injured got yellow and those close to death got red. All night it went: a bloodied arrival, a swift assessment, a tag – green, yellow, red, colour-coding for the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history.
Those who could not be saved were set aside in separate rooms to be made as comfortable as possible until they died. The red streaks staining the corridors and entry bays shocked even the paramedics. There was so much.
By the time the sky paled over Las Vegas on Monday, 59 people were dead, including the shooter, 489 were injured, stories of heroism and survival were emerging and a week-long macabre ritual was in motion, a choreography of atrocity in which everyone knew their role.
Donald Trump for once hewed to convention and played comforter-in-chief, hailing the bravery of first responders and patients he met at the University Medical Center. “America is truly a nation in mourning. When the worst of humanity strikes, and strike it did, the best of humanity responds.”
Congress reprised gun control arguments honed and polished from previous mass shootings. The media staked out hospitals and stood in front of yellow crime scene tape. Conspiracy theory peddlers claimed it was all fake.
The National Rifle Association hunkered down, waiting for the storm to abate, and issued a call on Thursday to regulate bump stocks, devices which turn semi-automatic rifles into rapid-fire weapons. If everything went the NRA’s way, this latest massacre would be the 11-minute rampage that shook America – and effected just a marginal tweak to gun laws.