After mass shooting, Las Vegas seeks healing

Above, some of the 58 white crosses for the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas Strip on October 1. Stephen Paddock killed at least 58 people and injured more than 450 after he opened fire on a large crowd at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. (AFP)
Updated 07 October 2017
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After mass shooting, Las Vegas seeks healing

LAS VEGAS: Far from the Las Vegas Strip and its flashy hotels, a small healing park opened Friday in the north of Las Vegas, as communities shaken by Sunday’s horrific mass shooting join together to grieve.
One of its creators, landscape architect Mark Hamalmann, said it is a “remembrance garden,” featuring 58 trees planted along a small paved walkway. In the middle, there is a large oak tree representing the “tree of life,” while American flags adorn a wooden fence.
“Everything here is donated by local companies, everyone here is a volunteer, and it’s just amazing how it’s come together,” Hamalmann, who oversaw the garden’s construction, told AFP.
In the healing park, he explained, everyone is welcome to walk, sit and reflect on the benches, or leave messages on a wall of remembrance.
And there is little doubt healing is what Las Vegas needs.
Fifty-eight people died and nearly 500 were injured when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on an outdoor country music festival — an act that investigators are still at a loss to explain — before taking his own life.
Since the shooting, “I can’t sleep. I think probably the adrenaline is still running and I can’t wrap my brain around what I saw,” said Dori McKendry, a driver for rideshare startup Lyft.
McKendry was parked in front of the Mandalay Bay hotel Sunday night when Paddock started shooting from his 32nd-floor room.
Admitting she currently has a “mental and emotional feeling of insanity,” McKendry said she has offered free rides to victims’ families to help process what happened.
Thomas Fadden, who survived what was the deadliest shooting in recent US history, said it was scary “not to know who your neighbor could be.”
Paddock, a retired accountant and high stakes gambler, lived quietly in the small town of Mesquite, Nevada, north of Las Vegas. His neighbors, his family and even his girlfriend said they had no clue about what he was about to do.
Several clinics in Las Vegas have organized counseling sessions for people struggling since the shooting — including survivors, relatives or simply those suffering from anxiety in the wake of the atrocity.
At the University of Las Vegas (UNLV), a clinic was set up at The Practice, where psychology students are trained.
Some who seek help “want to talk and share,” while others “will feel pretty constricted and not be ready,” director Michelle Paul said, adding it’s important to “provide a sense of security, safety, comfort, basic problem solving,” to disoriented patients.
“What we try to do is work collaboratively with clients and try to figure out for them, what’s going on for them, normalize that, and then also help them come up with some positive coping strategies,” she explained.
For psychologist Daniel Filacora, of private clinic Bridge Counseling, talking about the details of traumatic experiences helps disconnect negative emotions from the event.
“Telling one’s story, especially in such a dramatic event, is important to differentiate between what really happened and the negative emotions attached,” he said.
It is even more important in Las Vegas, a world-famous party hotspot where an attack on a large gathering of 20,000 people is “particularly traumatic,” he added.
“At a community level, we’re obviously more traumatized because it is in our community now,” added Michelle Paul.
As a result, she says, getting life back to normal in Las Vegas will be a “marathon, not a sprint.”


Wanted Sri Lanka radical Hashim died in hotel attack

Updated 34 min 1 sec ago
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Wanted Sri Lanka radical Hashim died in hotel attack

  • Hashim appeared in a video released by the Daesh group after they claimed the bombings
  • The president said he was killed during the Shangri-La attack

COLOMBO: An extremist believed to have played a key role in Sri Lanka’s deadly Easter bombings died in an attack on a Colombo hotel, the country’s president confirmed Friday.
“What intelligence agencies have told me is that Zahran was killed during the Shangri-La attack,” President Maithripala Sirisena told reporters, referring to Zahran Hashim, leader of a local extremist group.
Hashim appeared in a video released by the Daesh group after they claimed the bombings, but his whereabouts after the blasts was not immediately clear.
Sirisena did not immediately clarify what Hashim’s role was in the attack on the Shangri-La, one of six bomb blasts that killed over 250 people on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Sirisena also said police are looking for 140 people believed to have links with the Daesh group over the attacks.
Sirisena told reporters some Sri Lankan youths had been involved with the extremist group since 2013, and that top defense and police chiefs had not shared information with him about the impending attacks.
He also blamed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government for weakening the intelligence system by focusing on the prosecution of military officers over alleged war crimes during a decade-long civil war with Tamil separatists.