Students, community gather to mourn Las Vegas victims

Students from Kent State come together at the Rock on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, to mourn and pray over a shooter attacked a country concert in Las Vegas earlier this week.

Rachel Duthie

Illuminated by the glow of more than a dozen flames, Darnell Wilson fell to his knees talking about the victims of the Las Vegas shooting.

The pastor from the Kent State Impact Movement bowed his head before the Rock, which was freshly painted with the words “Less Guns, More Peace,” as he angrily pleaded into the microphone.

“What can we do so we don’t forget about this two weeks from now?” he asked. “How can we keep this tragedy at the forefront of our memory?”  

Many other attendees at the candlelight vigil Thursday night shared his frustration as they mourned those who died during the Las Vegas shooting earlier this week.

Hosted by the Student Power Coalition, the group created the vigil to not only grieve, but to have an open conversation about gun policy in the United States.

“I don’t want people to feel alone,” said Nina Darden, a senior public health major and the communications chair for SPC. “In these situations, I think it is really easy to go inside, and to not trust those around you. I want people here to feel like they have a voice.”

Roughly 20 students and locals surrounded the Rock to commemorate the victims through prayer and song, with some people stepping out to give their own testimonies of how the shooting impacted them.

“This really is to start a dialogue with how we treat and access guns in the country,” Darden said.

At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 were wounded at a country music festival in Las Vegas Sunday night when Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old man from Columbus, Ohio, opened fire at the crowd from his hotel room at Mandalay Bay. It is being considered the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

Police confirmed 47 firearms belonging to the shooter, ranging from rifles, shotguns and pistols, were uncovered at three different locations.

The severity of the shooting is what made Kent State alumna and longtime local Nancy Schiappa decide to attend the vigil.

“(What frustrates me the most) is the lack of willingness to look at this situation,” Schiappa said. “There is so much money being thrown away not to this, because at the end of the day, money is the only thing that matters. We are valuing money over human life.”

As attendees began to trickle out of the vigil, a few members decided to paint a new message on the back of the Rock, reading, “Love 4 Las Vegas.”

Rachel Duthie is the features editor, contact her at [email protected].