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EDITORIAL: Community must again endure mass shooting tragedy

Las Vegans grieve one more time following a senseless multiple shooting. Will this insanity ever stop?

Six years after a devastated community endured the Oct. 1 rampage on the Strip, a gunman on Wednesday opened fire at UNLV in Beam Hall, home to the business school. There were reports of shots fired at the Student Union. Three people were killed. At least one more was seriously injured.

The violence began around 11:45 a.m. The campus bustled as students were preparing for semester exams next week. But the anticipation of holiday break was soon shattered by the horrific scene that unfolded.

Students reported hearing shots and described barricading doors with tables to protect themselves. It’s a sorrowful sign of the times that many of these young adults have come of age at a time of active shooter drills intended to teach lockdown procedures during such an event. But this was no drill. A university police text urged students to “RUN-HIDE-FIGHT.”

Allister Dias, editor of the Scarlet &Gray Free Press, UNLV’s student newspaper, told the Review-Journal, “I was working at my desk, and I heard like a series of sirens outside. I think it was like one or two cop cars, and I go to the window just to see what it is, and I saw kids running across the parking lot. I’m thinking, wait, what’s going on?” He then heard “very audible gunshots, like pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.”

By about 1 p.m. police reported that there was “no further threat.” Officers had “engaged” the suspect, Sheriff Kevin McMahill said. Yet many students and faculty remained hiding in classrooms, unsure whether it was safe to emerge. Police began going door to door on campus to reassure those still sheltering.

Law enforcement — the Metropolitan Police Department and UNLV campus police — acted decisively to secure the campus area and address the threat. This likely saved many lives.

The stale guns vs. mental health bickering that inevitably follows these horrific occurrences has already begun. But no matter where one comes down in that debate, a society that produces so many lost and delusional souls who believe their salvation requires mass homicide is suffering from deeper, more entrenched maladies. More details will emerge in the coming days. For now our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones and those in the UNLV family — parents, students, staff, faculty — forced to suffer unthinkable trauma.

Las Vegas responded to the Oct. 7 shooting with compassion, strength, resiliency and a heightened sense of community that arises from shared tragedy. It’s imperative we come together once again.

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