I never wanted to go to Las Vegas. It was never on my bucket list of places to visit or things to do.
I had no interest in the bright lights, The Strip, the casinos, that silly sign that sits obnoxiously on the edge of the city as a photobomb for tourists who stand in line to pose for photos underneath it.
It was never a take it or leave it situation, either.
I was leaving it without ever being there.
Until I went.
I loved it and can’t wait to go back.
This Monday morning though, as the sun rises over the southern Nevada desert city, Las Vegas has changed.
Its lights won’t flicker as brightly. The bells and whistles of the casino slot machines won’t sound so musical as it plays as the city’s soundtrack.
Not with the echoes of all those gunshots still ringing out.
Late Sunday, from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, a 64-year-old man opened fire with an automatic weapon.
He pointed his killing machine toward an outdoor concert venue across the street, a plot of land that had more than 30,000 people sardined in front of a stage to attend a country music festival.
More than 50 people were killed – children, daughters, sons, parents. That’s a number that’s likely to go even higher after this diatribe is published.
More than 200 people were injured, their bodies torn apart by flying bullets, or hurt during the stampede to escape with their lives.
A small part of Las Vegas died last night.
The rest of the country could only cry.
Another day in 21st century America, folks.
Less than two months ago, I was across the Mandalay Bay casino floor. I did one big loop and left the way I came, back to the Luxor, which is where I was staying while in town for an AAU Basketball Tournament.
Directly across the street from the Luxor was the open space that held the Route 91 Harvest Country Festival.
Maybe that’s why this latest American tragedy hits so close to home.
While I walked the Las Vegas Strip, from The Venetian south, I had spent four days living within a football field from the place where so many people would be innocently gunned down.
With my trip to Vegas almost 60 days behind me, I had gone to bed in the safety of my humble abode two hours before the shooting started.
I woke up at 3 a.m. local time, glanced at my cell phone and saw a long line of text message alerts telling me off the shooting.
I got out of bed and turned on CNN for more information. I tuned in to the Las Vegas Police Department’s online scanner. I turned to Twitter and saw the videos and heard the gunshots.
At that time, only two were confirmed dead and more than 20 were injured.
I was pretty sure those numbers would grow by morning.
Sadly, I wasn’t wrong.
More than 50 people dead.
More than 200 people injured.
By a man with a gun.
Again in America.
There are still many questions to be answered and the LVPD, FBI, ATF and all those other alphabet agencies will do its best to answer those.
And, this isn’t just about the guns, believe me. That’s part of the problem, certainly, but it’s a far bigger issue about the society we live in.
Sadly, because this is the – ahem – “United” States of America nothing will change.
You won’t work with us to do what’s truly right, so we won’t work with you.
Somewhere down the road, in another city of another state, another mass shooting will shock us and sadden us.
More of our children and parents will die in pools of blood, be it in a public venue like the one in Las Vegas, a movie theater in Colorado, a night club in Orlando, or schools located in Columbine, or just up the road in Connecticut.
To those lost on a suddenly violent Sunday night alongside the Vegas Strip, may their souls rest in peace.
To those of us once again left behind, may our souls dig deep to start finding the answers to change the world before it’s too late.