Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Concert Massacre

We like to visit nice places and take interesting photos of enjoyable things to share on our site.  Sometimes, that doesn’t work out.

We booked a trip to Las Vegas in July for a trip in late October to photograph the retired iconic neon signs in the Neon Museum Boneyard. In the time between the booking and the trip, the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Concert massacre occurred. We thought about skipping the trip, but we went anyway. We wondered how the shooting would change Las Vegas. It hasn’t, as far as we can tell: they have hidden almost any reference to it except for selling #VegasStrong t-shirts and wristbands on Fremont street. Since this is (currently) the largest mass shooting in American history, we decided to document what we could before all traces vanish.

The shooter was a terrorist who attacked 22,000 concert goers as well as the fuel tanks at the Las Vegas airport. This map shows the shooter’s location in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and the sites he attacked.

Shooting Map

We rode to the north end of Las Vegas Boulevard on the bus (the Deuce). Las Vegas cab drivers often take tourists on long, out-of-the way routes to increase the fare (this happened to us one day earlier and we didn’t want to repeat the experience). Except for the requisite #VegasStrong sign, the hotel didn’t seem to be very different. The only thing we noticed was that the reflective glass on one of the windows the shooter used seemed to have a different tint than surrounding windows. This is shown in the following photo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Mandalay Bay Hotel

Outside the hotel, there was a small ad hoc tribute site. Given the number of victims, it seemed too small. It is shown in the following photos.

The concert site where 58 people were killed and 546 injured is nearly invisible from the street.  When we were there, it was surrounded by tall chain-link fencing covered with black plastic. We walked by it once without even noticing it. The following photo shows the best view we could get from an overpass over Las Vegas Boulevard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Concert Site

If we tried, we could travel the U.S. and write several blogs a year like this. Since our trip, another horrific shooting occurred in a church in Texas. This has to stop.

Charlottesville 13 Days Later

On August 12, 2017, the “Unite the Right” rally, a white nationalist (supremacist) demonstration, was held in Emancipation Park (formerly named Lee Park)  in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia.  This tiny park is the site of a mounted statue of Robert E. Lee, a son of Virginia and the Southern general who commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the Civil War from 1862 until 1865.  Early that morning, well before the scheduled start time of the demonstration, the white nationalists and a group of counter-protesters arrived at the park.  Violence broke out in the park and the adjoining street, culminating in a vehicular attack on a group of counter-protesters, in the narrow street enclosed by buildings on each side, that resulted in the death of one counter-protester and injury to at least 19 others. This story has been covered by many news outlets and is not covered further in this post.

On August 25, we drove through the city of Charlottesville and stopped to see the site for ourselves. A few dozen other people were also there, somberly viewing the park and the few short blocks that had seen so much violence.  The park was quiet and green, with a few benches where a very few people sat in the shade. The statue of General Lee on his horse was covered completely in black plastic. A few people walked into the park, looked at the large black object, took a few pictures, and left.

Statue of General Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park
Statue of General Robert E. Lee in Emancipation Park
Roses on Statue of General Robert E. Lee
Roses on Statue of General Robert E. Lee

We walked down the street to the scene of the attack. The narrow street was completely blocked off at both ends by police barricades and squad cars.

A woman was being interviewed about the events near the top of the block. She was being careful not to step on the flower arrangements and hand-written signs laid on the sidewalk there.

About half way down the street, the floral tributes began to appear on the pavement, just where they were laid down as fresh bouquets, but now completely dried.

Floral Tributes
Floral Tributes
Floral Tributes
Floral Tributes
Floral Tributes
Floral Tributes
Floral Tributes
Floral Tributes

At the same place, the walls of the buildings were covered with tributes to the young woman who was killed, chalked on the wall as high as a person could reach, and covering the ground where flowers had not been left.

Tributes
Tributes
Tributes
Tributes

It seemed as if time had stopped. We and a few other people moved slowly down the street, read the tributes, observed the flowers, tried to capture with photographs what had happened less than two weeks before. After a few more minutes, we walked back up the street, got in our car, and continued on our journey.