Hour Before Massacre, Moving Video Shows Crowd Singing ‘God Bless America’

Ivan Pentchoukov
By Ivan Pentchoukov
October 3, 2017US News
Hour Before Massacre, Moving Video Shows Crowd Singing ‘God Bless America’
Mourners attend a candlelight vigil at the corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard for the victims of Sunday night's mass shooting, Oct. 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A joyful crowd sang along to “God Bless America” just one hour before a Vegas gunman that took the lives of 59 people, a video taken from the concert stage shows.

Country duo Big Kenny and John Rich performed the song on stage. They invited active-duty service members and veterans on stage, as they often do, according to Breitbart.

“I think we all know that without men and women who are willing to fight for our freedoms in this country,” Rich said, “we don’t get to assemble like this and have crazy country music concerts in the middle of Las Vegas, Nevada. It would not happen.”

In the video, thousands of fans can be seen waving lights and you can hear them singing softly to the tune. More than 22,000 people attended the concert, which was the finale of the three-day Route 91 Harvest music festival.

Just one hour after the touching performance, Stephen Paddock, 64, used an automatic weapon to fire at the crowd from a 32nd-floor hotel window for several minutes, killing 59 people and wounding 527.

Big and Rich told “Entertainment Tonight” that they were heartbroken.

“Fear will not overtake us,” Kenny told “Entertainment Tonight.” “We will continue to march forward with our music. I know that all the artists out there, we are all so concerned right now, first and foremost about our fans, but [we] will not let this stop us in any way.”

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Big Kenny and John Rich of Big and Rich performs during Country Thunder – Day 4 on July 23, 2017, in Twin Lakes, Wis. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Country Thunder)

“We will go forth every day and shine the light of love as bright as we possibly can against all the darkness and outrageous things like this that might ever come upon our path in life,” Kenny added. “And we will continue to walk in God’s light the best we can.”

Police sought clues on Tuesday to explain why Paddock, a retiree who enjoyed gambling but had no criminal record, set up a vantage point in a high-rise Las Vegas hotel and sprayed bullets onto the concert below in what became the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Paddock left no immediate hint of his motive. He was not known to have served in the military, to have suffered from a history of mental illness, or to have registered any inkling of social disaffection, political discontent, or radical views on social media.

“He was a sick man, a demented man,” U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters. “Lot of problems, I guess, and we’re looking into him very, very seriously, but we’re dealing with a very, very sick individual.”

U.S. officials also discounted a claim of responsibility by the ISIS terrorist group.

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A sign outside the Mandalay Hotel after a gunman killed more than 50 people and wounded more than 200 others when he opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas, on Oct. 2, 2017. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

Police said they believed Paddock acted alone.

“We have no idea what his belief system was,” Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters on Monday. “I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath.”

Although police said they had no other suspects, Lombardo said investigators wanted to talk with Paddock’s girlfriend and live-in companion, Marilou Danley, who he said was traveling abroad, possibly in Tokyo.

Lombardo also said detectives were “aware of other individuals” who were involved in the sale of the weapons Paddock had acquired.

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Las Vegas police investigate a side street near the Las Vegas Village after a lone gunman opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on Oct. 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. (David Becker/Getty Images)

It appears the only time Paddock had a close brush with the law was for a traffic infraction, authorities said.

The death toll, which officials said could rise, surpassed last year’s record massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, by a gunman who had pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Paddock seemed atypical of the overtly troubled, angry young men who experts said have come to embody the profile of most mass shooters.

Public records on Paddock point to an itinerant existence across the U.S. West and Southeast, including stints as an apartment manager and aerospace industry worker. But Paddock appeared to be settling in to a quiet life when he bought a home in a Nevada retirement community a few years ago, about an hour’s drive from Las Vegas and the casinos he enjoyed.

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This undated photo provided by Eric Paddock shows his brother, Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock. (Courtesy of Eric Paddock via AP)

His brother, Eric, described Stephen Paddock as financially well-off and an enthusiast of video poker games and cruises.

“We’re bewildered, and our condolences go out to the victims,” Eric Paddock said in a telephone interview from Orlando, Florida. “We have no idea in the world.”

Las Vegas’s casinos, nightclubs, and shopping draw more than 40 million visitors from around the world each year. The Strip was packed with visitors when the shooting started shortly after 10 p.m. local time on Sunday, Oct. 1, during the Route 91 Harvest music festival.

The gunfire erupted as country music star Jason Aldean was performing. He ran off stage as the shooting progressed.

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Singer/Songwriter Jason Aldean at Macon Centreplex on Aug. 11, 2017 in Macon, Ga. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Video of the attack showed throngs of people screaming in horror and cowering on the open ground as extended bursts of gunfire strafed the crowd from above, from a distance police estimated at more than 500 yards.

The bloodshed ended after police swarming the hotel closed in on the gunman, who shot and wounded a hotel security officer through the door of his two-room suite and then killed himself before police entered, authorities said.

Lombardo said a search of the suspect’s car turned up a supply of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer compound that can be formed into explosives and was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of a federal office building that killed 168 people.

They also obtained a warrant to search a second house connected to Paddock in Reno, Nevada.

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A  home that FBI agents searched Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, in Reno, Nev. The home was owned by Stephen Paddock. (Scott Sonner/AP)

Chris Sullivan, the owner of the Guns & Guitars shop in Mesquite, issued a statement confirming that Paddock was a customer who cleared “all necessary background checks and procedures,” and said his business was cooperating with investigators.

“He never gave any indication or reason to believe he was unstable or unfit at any time,” Sullivan said. He did not say how many or the kinds of weapons Paddock purchased there.

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Guns & Guitars, a gun shop, where suspected Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock allegedly purchased firearms, Oct. 2, 2017, in Mesquite, Nev. (Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)

Lombardo said investigators knew that a gun dealer had come forward to say that he had sold weapons to the suspect, but it was not clear if he was referring to Sullivan. He said police were aware of “some other individuals who were engaged in those transactions,” including at least one in Arizona.

Reuters contributed to this report

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