In an act of terrorism, a lone gunman unleashed a load of gunfire from a 32nd hotel room on a crowd at a country music festival in Las Vegas. 59 people have been confirmed dead, and more than 500 people have been injured.

This shooting is the worst in modern day American history.

The shooter has been identified as Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada. Authorities say Paddock fired shot after shot from his room at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino down on the crowd of about 22,000, sending terrified concertgoers running for their lives. The shooting started while performer Jason Aldean was on stage.

“We heard what sounded like firecrackers going off. Then all of a sudden we heard what sounded like a machine gun. People started screaming that they were hit,” witness Meghan Kearney told MSNBC. “When we started running out, there were probably a couple hundred [people] on the ground.”

She added: “People kept dropping and dropping … People were getting shot one foot away from us. People were trying to save their friends. There were gunshots everywhere. Helping them would’ve meant that we got shot, too.”

Police responded to shots just after 10 p.m. PST (1 a.m. EST). Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters Monday that authorities believe Paddock killed himself before police entered his room. Earlier, officials had said police fatally shot Paddock.

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The suspect is believed to have checked into the hotel on Sept. 28, Lombardo said, and had an “excess of 10 rifles” in his room.

It is not clear if Paddock requested a higher floor room when checking in. Two broken windows could be seen from the 32nd floor of the hotel. Law enforcement officials believe Paddock had connecting rooms or a suite and ran between both windows, firing out of both, either to get a different vantage point or to avoid return-fire.

Witnesses said that the first round of shots sounded like fireworks. Only after the second burst of gunfire did the band stop playing.

“After the second round… everybody hit the ground around us,” concert-goer Sean said on TODAY. “It seemed like people were hit everywhere.”

Another concertgoer, Jon Bessette, described a scene of “pandemonium” as “the band ran off stage.”

“Everyone was running, people were getting trampled,” he said.

Police urged families looking to locate missing loved ones to call 1-866-535-5654.

Photo : David Becker/Getty Images

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