- REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday that left at least 59 people dead and 527 injured, though it did not provide evidence or even mention the shooter’s name.
The militant group, also known as ISIS, claimed on Monday morning that the gunman was one of its “soldiers” and had converted to Islam “months ago,” the SITE Intelligence Group cited a report from Amaq, a news agency linked to the terrorist organization, as saying.
However, a senior US government official told Reuters that the gunman had no known connections to the Islamic State and was not on any database of suspected terrorists. An FBI special agent named Aaron Rouse said at a press conference on Monday, “We have determined to this point no connection with an international terrorist group.”
He added: “We will continue to work with our partners to ensure that this is factually, thoroughly, and absolutely investigated to be able to bring comfort and peace back to this community.”
The Independent reported that the language of the Islamic State statement was similar to others it had released regarding attacks that it merely inspired rather than directed. Additionally, some experts said the claim could not be independently verified.
— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) October 2, 2017
Local authorities said after the shooting that they had no information regarding the motives of the gunman, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock.
“We have no idea what his belief system was,” Joseph Lombardo, the Clark County sheriff, said at a news conference Monday morning.
Paddock opened fire on a tightly packed crowd of concertgoers on the Las Vegas strip from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino shortly after 10 p.m. local time on Sunday. A SWAT team stormed the shooter’s hotel room and found him dead.
Police have said they are searching Paddock’s hotel room, as well as his house in Mesquite, Nevada, about 80 miles from Las Vegas.
The incident is the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.