On Sunday evening, 1 October 2017, more than 2,000 people gathered at the Route 91 Harvest, a three-day country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, attending a Jason Aldean concert. At approximately 10:08 pm local time, just as Aldean began his closing show, a gunman opened fire from his 32nd-floor hotel room on the crowd, leaving 59 dead and 527 others injured. A festive evening became a deadly massacre and will now be described in the annals of history as the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
In the aftermath, a community of people was left bewildered and stunned by the horrific events that had occurred. In a search for comfort, peace, and understanding amid tragedy, the community has united in hopes that the strength so desperately needed to endure the pain of loss and grief can be found in one another.
Many LDS performers are all too familiar with Las Vegas as it is a place where they often perform. Several of them, including Donny Osmond, Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, Brandon Flowers of the Killers, and Kaskade, one of the highest paid DJs in the world, took to social media to express their thoughts and feelings about what had occurred.
In a Facebook post on Monday, 2 October 2017, Kaskade said in part, “This violence and incomprehensible loss of life has changed me today. But even so, I will continue in my life to try to lift the focus to a higher place. I will not succumb to anxiety and anger, I will try harder than before to elevate. I will understand that I am more than an individual who is devastated by an attack on a city that I love, and against people who love the same thing I love: music.”
In a one-line tweet, the Killers said, “We’ve got heavy hearts. We love you, Las Vegas.” World-renowned entertainer, Donny Osmond, called for community unity in his Facebook post on Monday. He said in part, “The city of Las Vegas IS a community. We can’t allow this type of terror and evil to destroy us. The only alternative we have is kindness with vigilance. Let’s band together to help and offer aid to our fellow citizens. Let’s unite in reaching out to those who have been affected by this senseless act of violence. In our unity, we can and will be greater than this awful tragedy.” And Dan Reynolds posted a picture on Twitter of him, his wife, and three children walking down the street, adding the caption, “holding on to these girls a little tighter today.”
David Archuleta also took to social media and shared a powerful, heartfelt message about the Savior, peace, and unity in a Facebook post. He said:
Every 6 months I take a little weekend break, wherever I might be, to listen to my Church’s world conference. Yesterday I was able to attend in person. My heart hurts hearing about another shooting in Vegas. In a world where so much is going on, with natural disasters, shootings, hate, wars, depression and anxiety, fears, and so many other things going on we ask ourselves “Where can I turn for peace? Where is my solace?” That’s what speaker Jean B Bingham talked about in the conference yesterday morning. Sometimes it’s hard to trust. But there is a source of healing, and that is from Christ. Jean Bingham also mentioned there is a way to become free from the constraints of our own misunderstanding. Well, how? One way I’ve gained it is watching and listening to men and women of God in these conferences. I loved how a big emphasis was on trust and to “lean not unto [our] own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) my love is with the victims of the recent Vegas shooting, and with the many still recovering from the natural disasters. Let’s allow sad things to bring us together, become united and do something to help others. We can be the helping hands and the light in even the darkest times of another’s life.
It was Isabel Allende, a Chilean-American writer, who said, “We don’t even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward. In times of tragedy, of war, of necessity, people do amazing things. The human capacity for survival and renewal is awesome.” And the Psalmist gave these words of solace, “He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper: The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore” (Psalm 121:3-8).