NITRO, W.Va. — West Virginians are coming together to pray for the victims and families affected by the Las Vegas, Nevada shooting — the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
The Nitro Church of God in Nitro held a prayer vigil Monday morning.
“It broke my heart,” said pastor Rob Van Fossen. “I thought what can we do? We can’t do anything else, but we can pray.”
The vigil was held just hours after at least 58 people were killed and more than 500 people were injured. It happened Sunday night during a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. Jason Aldean was performing during the time of the shooting.
Authorities said the gunman, Stephen Paddock, 64, shot at the concert crowd from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Paddock died of a self-inflicted wound.
Ann King, volunteer secretary at the Nitro Church of God, attended Monday’s vigil. She told the group, while holding hands in a circle, that she was thinking of her cousin who lives in Las Vegas.
“That was my first thought this morning,” King said. “Thank goodness. I know Facebook isn’t always good, but he marked himself as safe, so he’s fine.”
King said during her remarks that people visit Las Vegas all the time and that this violence can happen anywhere.
“It could happen right here. It could happen in Nitro,” she said. “I’m going on a trip in a couple months to a big city and I’m thinking that could be me, but I’m not going to live my life in fear.”
Pastor Van Fossen said it’s important to bring the community together at a time when the whole country is hurting.
“The entire country needs to know that we’re all in this together. It’s more than just a fight against terror. There’s some ugliness out there and we need to band together,” he said. “When one of us is hurt, we need to realize all of us is hurt.”
ISIS claimed responsibility for the shooting, but the FBI said Paddock had no connection to ISIS or any terror groups.
Officials said Paddock had been living in Mesquite, Nevada, which is 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. He had been staying at the Mandalay Bay hotel since last Thursday. At least 10 guns were found inside his hotel room.
Marilou Danle, 62, was identified as Paddock’s girlfriend. Officials said Danley was not involved in the shooting, but is considered a person of interest.
Authorities have not yet determined a motive, but say they believe Paddock acted alone.
President Donald Trump called the mass shooting “an act of pure evil.” He is scheduled to visit Las Vegas on Wednesday.