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By Joyzel Acevedo and Kate Murphy
Police named Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old former accountant, as the gunman who opened fire from a Las Vegas hotel room on a crowd of concertgoers below. Over 50 people have been killed and hundreds have been injured.
Sydney Sievers was there and said, “It was the scariest time of my life. I thought it was over. I really did.”
While ISIS has claimed responsibility for the shooting, the FBI says there’s no link. FBI special agent in charge Aaron Rouse said, “As this event unfolds, we have determined to this point no connection with an international terrorist group.”
Only in America can whiteness prevent the man who conducted the deadliest mass shooting in American history from being called a terrorist.
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) October 2, 2017
My heart is breaking for Las Vegas. We need love, unity, peace, gun control & for people to look at this & call this what it is = terrorism.
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) October 2, 2017
The lone wolf. The local shooter. The gunman. Any and everything, but terrorist. Wonder why.
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) October 2, 2017
So why haven’t authorities named Paddock a terrorist?
It all comes down to motive.
According to CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano, “Terrorism is defined as violence or intimidation in the pursuit of political goals.”
In 2015, Dylann Roof opened fire and killed nine black congregants in a church in Charleston, S.C. Roof self-identified as a white supremacist, but that wasn’t enough by federal standards to call him a terrorist.
Former federal prosecutor David S. Weinstein said of the case, “Under the statutory definitions of something that would be domestic terrorism, it doesn’t qualify. He’s not trying to influence a certain outcome of the government, he’s not affecting interstate commerce, he hasn’t received funding from some foreign or domestic organization.”
However, according to a Nevada statute, motivation does not need to be established to define an attack as an “act of terrorism.”
It remains to be seen whether or not the shooting in Las Vegas will be called an act of terror.