Beneath the unforgiving Las Vegas sun, terror descended upon the bustling walkways of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) campus. As the clock struck noon on Wednesday, an armed assailant unleashed carnage upon the unsuspecting students and faculty, leaving a trail of horror in his wake before he was fatally stopped. His lifeless body signaled the end of the violent episode, but not before claiming the lives of at least three individuals and casting numerous others into the throes of danger.
As shots tore through the tranquility of academia within the walls of Frank and Estella Beam Hall, home to the esteemed Lee Business School, chaos ensued. Somewhere in that pandemonium, hopes, dreams, and the day’s simplicity were irrevocably shattered. A stone’s throw away, echoes of gunfire also reverberated near the heart of student life, the UNLV student union.
Amid the screams and sirens, one Stephen Miller, a devoted economics faculty member, recounted the hysteria from his fifth-floor office in Beam Hall. The sound of fire alarms spurred his descent down the stairwell, leading him into a flood of students fleeing the madness. Luckier than most, he revealed he did not witness the shooting firsthand, but his escape followed an emergency text from the university, urging vigilance and offering guidance for survival.
As the attacker persisted, sanctuary became the lecture halls and shadowed corners of campus as students and staff heeded police commands to shelter. While hoping the walls around them were thick enough to withstand madness, they waited for the eventual evacuation.
The silence after gunfire is always deafening. It is a time for authorities such as the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to take stock, to untangle the threads of panic unraveled so violently. They meticulously cleared buildings, an arduous process colorfully captured in the recollections of a student known as Jessica, who, alongside her peers, emerged from sanctuary with hands raised high, passing windows shattered by bullets. Another student painted a gripping scene of “about 200 kids all in one space,” united in their alarm.
Some tales spoke of ingenuity and self-preservation, such as the account of Matthew, a student who barricaded himself behind a fort of tables in a desperate bid for life. His voice underscored the fear gripping the college community, a poignant reminder of the escalating pattern of campus violence.
As the White House addressed the tragedy unfolding in the Nevadan desert, with Karine Jean-Pierre solemnly informing the nation from her briefing room pulpit, anxiety brewed ahead of President Joe Biden’s scheduled arrival to this now-wounded city.
The aftermath of the day’s calamity found Maryland Parkway lifeless and cordoned off, a stark contrast to its usual hum of traffic and life, as the neighborhood became a place to mourn losses not yet fully comprehended.