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Blood donors do part to ease Las Vegas' pain

By LIA ZHU in Las Vegas and William Hennelly in New York | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-10-04 09:24

Zhuang Zhi and his pregnant wife, Chen Zhu, wereon vacation in Salt Lake City when they heard about a gunman's deadly assault on a country music festival in Las Vegas.

"We learned from the news that blood was needed following the shooting, so we decided to make this special trip to Las Vegas," said Chen, adding that the donation would make their vacation "meaningful".

"We were shocked at the news, and feel sad. No matter Chinese or Americans, we all feel the same way," said Zhuang, founder and chairman of Suzhou, China-based Love Zone Charity Foundation. "I'm a frequent blood donor myself. At such a moment, we just wanted to do something to help," he said.

Hundreds of people lined up at United Blood Services in LasVegas on Tuesday to donated blood in the wake of Sunday night's massive shooting, the deadliest in modern US history with almost 60 people killed.

The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, killed himself as police closed in. He left an arsenal of 49 guns but no clear clues as to why he staged the attack on a crowd of 20,000 from a 32nd-floor window of the Mandalay Bay hotel.

Darrel Ray, who lives outside of Dallas, Texas, flew to Las Vegas on Monday night to make a blooddonation. He said he learned the news at 3 am on Monday morning that 59 people were killed and 527 wounded.

"I had some wonderful times in Las Vegas, great trips here with friends. I love this city, and what happened was terrible," he said. "I watched (the news) for several hours and just decided to do something to help. This is about all that you can help."

"(After) everything that happened just now, we realized that we have a great melting pot," said Jenny Fiorella, a local resident waiting to have her blood drawn. She had gone to the agency on Monday but had to leave without donating because the agency couldn't handle any more. "All nationalities, all races, we all get together, especially in cases like this," she said.

"Some of those big guns, there's no reason for anybody to have them at home. How can they control it? I don't know. This is what happens – freedom in a country, but freedom sometimes can bite you," she said.

"I was shocked and had been watching closely the developments. … I watched the videos of the tragedy, which is heartbreaking," said Harry Chin, a Chinese American living in Los Angeles, who arrived in Las Vegas on Monday night after a four-hour drive to give blood.

"I think it's worthwhile," he said of the trip. "As part of the society, you need to be responsible. This is the least I can do.

"It's impossible to ban firearms completely, but the government should conduct more strict and thorough background checks before the firearms are sold,"Chin said.

Zhuang said that "the US has different laws on firearms. I understand it's difficult to change the laws, but maybe it's time the government examined the policy that allows a person to own so many guns and ammo legally."

Paddock fired on the crowd for nine minutes, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters on Tuesday, adding that investigators have identified all but three of the victims.

Federal, state and local investigators have found no evidence that Paddock had even incidental contact with foreign or domestic extremist groups, and reviews of his history show no underlying pattern of lawbreaking or hate speech, a senior US homeland security official said on Tuesday.

"We cannot even rule out mental illness or some form of brain damage, although there's no evidence of that, either," the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the probe.

Paddock had set up multiple cameras around the hotel room from which he launched his attack, Lombardo said.

Paddock's brother, Eric, has described himself as mystified by the attack.

"It just makes less sense the more we use any kind of reason to figure it out," Eric Paddock said in a text message on Tuesday. "I will bet any amount of money that they will not find any link to anything ... he did this completely by himself."

He said the family did not plan to hold a funeral for his brother, who was not religious, saying it could attract unwanted attention. He described his brother as a financially well-off enthusiast of video poker and cruises, with no history of mental health issues.

US President Donald Trump told reporters on Tuesday that Paddock had been "a sick man, a demented man".

Reuters contributed to this story.

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