Washington: US president Donald Trump and First Lady Melania observed a moment of silence in the White House lawns in memory of the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting, the deadliest in modern American history in which 58 people were killed and over 500 others injured.
Trump and the First Lady stepped out at around 2.40 pm (local time) along with Vice-President Mike Pence and the Second Lady. Both couples were holding hands.
As a uniformed serviceman in the White House second floor balcony rang a bell for the victims, the two couples bowed their heads.
They were joined by other top White House officials including Spokesperson Sarah Sanders, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, National Security Advisor HR McMaster and Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin. A team of White House kitchen staff with aprons was also present.
In an address to the nation, Trump described this as an "act of pure evil". He told reporters later that this was a "very very sad day" for him.
The US President was briefed early this morning by his chief of staff John Kelly.
"And has been updated regularly and constantly throughout the day, and will continue to, as new information is provided by law enforcement officials," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference.
"Last night, thousands of our fellow citizens endured what the president has rightly called an act of pure evil in Las Vegas," she said.
Trump has ordered all flags to half-staff. He will visit Las Vegas on Wednesday to grieve with the friends and family of the victims, to offer his support to those recovering from their wounds, and to thank the courageous first responders, she added.
In the coming days, this attack will directly impact communities all over our country, whose residents were visiting the entertainment capital of the world to attend a concert, Sanders said.
A man, 29-year-old Sonny Melton, had traveled from Tennessee to Las Vegas for the concert with his wife Heather. When the bullets began raining down from above, Sonny shielded her from danger, selflessly giving up his life to save hers. They've been married for just over a year, Sanders said.
Others risked their own lives to save people that they had never met, she added.
"Mike McGarry of Philadelphia laid on top of students at the concert to protect them from the gunfire. They're 23 — 20. I'm 53," he said, "and I've lived a good life." Lindsay Padgett and her fiancé, Mike Jay, fled for cover during the attack, and immediately returned to the scene with their pickup truck to help transport the wounded to nearby hospitals," Sanders said.
Gail Davis, who was attending the concert with her husband, said she owes her life to a brave police officer, who instinctively served as a human shield, protecting her from harm, Sanders said. Sadly, multiple police officers, both on-duty and off-duty, were among those killed or injured, she added.
"What these people did for each other says far more about who we are as Americans than the cowardly acts of a killer ever could," the press secretary she said, noting that the memory of those who displayed the ultimate expression of love in the midst of an unimaginable act of hate will never fade.
Their examples will serve as an eternal reminder that the American spirit cannot and will not ever be broken, she said.
"In the days ahead, we will grieve as a nation, we will honor the memory of those lost as a nation, and we will come together, united as one nation, under God and indivisible," Sanders added.
Published Date: Oct 03, 2017 07:40 am | Updated Date: Oct 03, 2017 07:40 am