The past eight hours have been extremely tough for the Las Vegas community.
Late Sunday night, a lone gunman unloaded a fury of bullets onto a crowd of people at the Route 91 Harvest festival as country singer Jason Aldean was in the middle of his set — killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 500 concerTgoers. The gunman, later identified by police as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, was found dead in his hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino with at least 10 rifles, police said Monday.
But despite the tragic massacre, now the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak said he been awestruck by the resilience of his community — and the rest of America. Sisolak teamed up with the Clark County sheriff to create a GoFundMe page for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. He kicked it off by donating $10,000 himself and within hours, he watched as they nearly doubled their initial goal of $500,000.
“A lot of tragedy was perpetrated on the community and it’s being dealt with with a lot of love,” Sisolak, the chair of the Clark County Commission, told TIME from the command center for the ongoing response to the Las Vegas shooting.
“I’ve never had to deal with anything like this in my entire life,” he continued. But the Democrat said the response he’s seen from first responders, the Las Vegas community, and the country, has been “nothing short of a miracle.”
People from all over the country, and the world, donated more than $500,000 within three hours of Sisolak sharing the GoFundMe page. Now, he’s hoping to raise $2 million.
Sisolak said he anticipates the hundreds of victims and their families will need all sorts of help in the coming days, weeks and months. “The need will just continue to grow. We’re going to need to pull together and we’re going to need an awful lot of prayers as we move forward,” Sisolak tells TIME.”It’s going to take a long time to get some sense of normalcy back.”
But people are already doing a lot, Sisolak says. He described winding lines at blood donation centers and harrowing images of first responders covered in blood, saving lives.”It just shows the nature of the community — we take care of each other and we take care of our tourists. ”
He also said he appreciated President Donald Trump’s words of encouragement. When asked how gun control should be approached in the wake of this tragedy, he said he didn’t think now was the appropriate time to talk about gun control, though he does think the issue needs to be addressed.
“It’s definitely an issue we have to face as a country,” Sisolak said. “If you listen to the tapes of this, the pauses were only while the individual changed cartridges in an automatic weapon. I don’t even know if we’ll ever know how many bullets were fired out of that room. “