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‘We need to be there for each other.’ Cal Poly holds vigil for Vegas shooting victims

Cal Poly students gather for a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening at the University Union Plaza in honor of those killed and injured in Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Cal Poly students gather for a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening at the University Union Plaza in honor of those killed and injured in Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

About 100 students, faculty and community members gathered Wednesday evening at Cal Poly to honor those who were killed or injured in the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday.

The candlelight vigil at University Union Plaza offered the campus community an opportunity to come together in remembrance of the 59 people killed and more than 500 injured.

San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon spoke to the crowd and said she understood the call for these times not to be politicized. However, Harmon said, “this is inherently a political issue” and there has been “a universal lack of political will on all sides to meaningfully address this issue.”

“Parents will bury their children this week. Children will bury their parents,” Harmon said. “So after we take moments of silence, we must speak out and speak up, to demand meaningful action on gun reform.”

Several members of the Cal Poly community attended the Las Vegas country music festival that became the site of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Dean of Students Kathleen McMahon said the Cal Poly students who were in Las Vegas have made it home safely, though one student’s parents were injured in the massacre.

“We need to be there for each other and recognize that many will be impacted by this in often very subtle and silent ways,” McMahon said. “Healing takes time. We can’t rush it. We need to be patient and kind with ourselves as we heal.”

Three days after the shooting, authorities are still trying to piece together what led Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old retired accountant, to fire from his 32nd-floor hotel window into a crowd of 22,000 concertgoers in the heart of Las Vegas.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that FBI agents questioned Paddock’s girlfriend, 62-year-old Marilou Danley, who said in a statement read by her lawyer that “it never occurred to me in any whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone.”

Crystal Alaniz left her place in front of the stage at the Route 91 Harvest Festival to use the restroom when the shooting broke out.

On the night of Oct. 1, a gunman opened fire on a concert near the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, killing 58 and wounding hundreds of others.

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