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Beach residents stunned by Las Vegas massacre

October 5, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

On a weekend where Southwest Floridians were enjoying a music festival featuring local songwriters, a music festival in Las Vegas was going on with the results far deadlier than anyone can imagine.

Stephen Paddock, 64, on Sunday opened fire into a crowd of people on the Las Vegas strip for an outdoor music festival. At least 58 people were killed and more than 500 others were taken to hospitals.

The shooting happened on the heels of the Island Hopper Songwriter Fest, where artists nationwide came to perform at various venues throughout Southwest Florida.

On Fort Myers Beach, the reaction was one of disbelief and sadness, that whatever the motives turn out to be, such a massacre was inexplicable.

"It's a horrible tragedy. I don't know what the motive was, although I can't imagine what a motive could be to do something that horrendous," Mayor Dennis Boback said. "We're getting to be more like the rest of the world with these attacks continuously. We need to grieve and mourn for the victims, but we need to remain vigilant, and go about our daily lives because life goes on.

Tracey Gore, a town council member, had a hard time gathering her thoughts as she looked back on the news she heard early this morning.

"I saw it at 6:30 this morning with my daughter. You go to a music festival with your family and this happens? I just don't get people. Why?" Gore said. "I came here thinking I go to concerts all the time. This is the greatest country in the world. How could this happen?"

Gore attributed things somewhat to all the negativity in this world. She said people go low when they should go high and that the media wants to do the negative news instead of the positive.

"I believe the world wants to hear the positive, but the media wants to spread the negative and meanness. It has to stop. We all have to look in the mirror," Gore said.

Tammy Stockton said it's always a tragedy when someone is hurt. But when something like this happens, it also makes you a little scared.

"It's sad and very frightening because you don't know why or how some delusional person will respond under different beliefs you learn at home or school or from your own mind,' Stockton said. "It's frightening to be on the streets."

The ability to amass the type of weaponry used also gave cause for concern.

"It's sad. I see no reason why someone should sell high-powered, huge capacity magazines for protection. A handgun with 16 rounds is plenty," said Adam Clark, owner of the Doghouse hot dog stand. "If you can't get the job done in 16 tries you shouldn't be shooting anything. It's sad where humanity is going."

Nearby, Linda Kane said the attention should be brought to the victims, not the shooter.

"The media is focusing on covering the shooter than the incident," Kane said. "Every time there's a large event such as that, people become very fearful and that's sad."



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