President Trump To Visit Las Vegas On Wednesday

Oct 2, 2017
Originally published on October 2, 2017 10:44 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We are covering the aftermath of what is being described as the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. This took place last night in Las Vegas. We are told by the authorities that more than 50 people are dead. More than 400 have been taken to hospitals. A gunman opened fire from a nearby hotel at a large, open-air country music concert that was right near the Las Vegas Strip. And we just want to warn you. This could be disturbing to some listeners. But here's some sound from that moment last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)

GREENE: And we've been hearing throughout the morning from the sheriff of Clark County, Joe Lombardo.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOE LOMBARDO: We determined there was a shooter on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay. Officers responded to that location and engaged the suspect at that location. He is dead.

GREENE: OK, authorities say that he was found dead in his hotel room - and obviously a lot of questions for investigators to answer at this point. We are expecting President Trump to be speaking about this shooting within minutes. And we're going to go to the president live when that happens. I'm joined right now by several of my colleagues. It's NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas, NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley and NPR's Scott Detrow. Guys, thanks for taking the time this morning.

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Good to be here.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Thank you.

GREENE: Let me start with you, Scott Detrow. I know you've been monitoring emails and tweets and information coming from the police in Las Vegas. What do we know at this point?

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: We know that 406 people - an estimated 406 people is the way that Las Vegas police are phrasing this - were taken to the hospital last night. This is after a shooter opened fire - 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on a concert just after 10 o'clock last night. Twenty-two-thousand people were at this concert, so it was a chaotic scene. Right now more than 50 people have been confirmed dead.

We don't know at this point in time if they were all shot or if anyone was trampled from the scene at the concert. There's just not a lot of information. As to the details of this, we have learned in the last few hours that when police responded to the scene in the hotel - at Mandalay Bay Hotel, the shooter was dead in the hotel room.

GREENE: OK. Ryan Lucas, I guess I wonder who at this moment is handling this investigation? Are the feds getting involved now? Is it police in Las Vegas? Is it a joint effort? What's happening?

LUCAS: It is a joint effort. The FBI is providing assistance at the moment. But it is a joint response with the Las Vegas Police Department. And actually in most of the press conferences that we've seen, there has been one of the FBI agents based at the Las Vegas field office behind Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo. And Lombardo himself said that the FBI is on the scene. They're helping out. They're bringing all the resources that the federal government has to bear to this investigation.

GREENE: And I guess, Scott Horsley, we're going to turn our attention in a few minutes to President Trump and see what he has to say. What reaction are we getting so far from the White House and other people here in Washington?

HORSLEY: That's right. Well, microphones have been set up in the Diplomatic Reception Room for the president's statement. In about five minutes, it's scheduled. He was briefed early this morning about the shooting in Las Vegas. The White House issued a statement saying they were monitoring the situation closely and offering full support to state and local officials.

The president tweeted just about three and a half hours ago. It was a relatively muted tweet from the president. He said, my warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you. I say muted in contrast, for example, to his reaction after the London subway bombing just a couple of weeks ago when he went on a tweet storm and said another attack in London by a loser terrorist and said we need to be proactive in addressing this - a more muted response from the president this morning.

GREENE: Interesting choice of words in your comparing the two events there. What - define this moment in a way for I guess any president who when - at a moment, the country's looking for something, some message of soothing, reflection and also this particular president, Donald Trump.

HORSLEY: Well, some of this of course is just the ceremonial role of the president as sort of consoler in chief. And there are the thoughts and prayers messages that we've come to expect at times like this. As Scott Detrow pointed out earlier this morning, there are a chorus of lawmakers and other policymakers who say that's not enough, that there are policy responses that ought to be issued.

You know, this shooting has now eclipsed the Pulse Nightclub shooting as the deadliest in modern history. It's eclipsed the Sandy Hook shooting. The senator who represents Connecticut, Chris Murphy, is out with a strong statement this morning saying that it's - nowhere in America do horrific, large-scale mass shootings like this happen with such regularity. Already this year, there have been more mass shootings than days of the year. He says thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if paired with continued legislative indifference. And he added, it's time for Congress to get off its ass and do something.

GREENE: Wow, OK. That's making a point. Scott Detrow, do you expect that the conversation around this to change in Congress and here in Washington in some way that's different from past deadly shootings?

DETROW: It's hard to say because I think one of the layers that you have to look at here is that this does seem to happen so frequently. I mean, it's pretty striking when we're putting together our coverage of a story like this and you have to stop and make sure you're remembering all the other mass shootings in recent years to talk about. The fact that they don't immediately jump to mind at times I think says something itself.

President Trump has not gone out and given this role that many times - the role of being the commander in chief after a tragic event. But it's something that President Obama did frequently during his eight years in office. And you could really track an increased frustration and anger from President Obama when time and time again he would come out to respond to some sort of mass shooting or another. I think he said at one point, you know, I'm tired of giving a statement like this.

GREENE: I think one of you mentioned that we've heard from Obama this morning already. Is that right?

HORSLEY: President Obama's tweeted this morning. Michelle and I, he says, are praying for the victims in Las Vegas. Our thoughts are with their families and everyone enduring another - another - senseless tragedy.

GREENE: Ryan, you cover the Justice Department, have watched the FBI and the federal authorities respond to tragedies like this in the past, including the Pulse Nightclub shooting, which we had been describing as the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history until today. What - any lessons from watching the FBI go through this - what we can expect in coming days and weeks?

LUCAS: Well, in the immediate aftermath, I mean, you've got the idea of, how do you help the victims? How do you help family members of victims and kind of come to terms with what's happened? In the case of Orlando, the FBI's Office of Victim Assistance worked with local authorities to try to provide assistance to people who were caught up in the shooting and then also people who had lost family members or whose family members were injured.

And there's also something that the FBI does and I think one can assume that in some way they will help out in the Las Vegas shooting as well - is with something known as an evidence response team. And what these people do is they come in, and they do a lot of the work at the crime scene - kind of trajectory analysis of the shooting, mapping out the full scene of the crime. And this is something that FBI has skilled technicians that can come in and help with.

GREENE: OK. And just to talk about where we are, if you're just joining us, we are awaiting President Trump. I'm looking at a lectern and a microphone. And we're awaiting the president, who's expected to come out and speak about the shooting in Las Vegas last night. To just tick through what we know, the gunman has been identified - Stephen Paddock, described by authorities as a local resident, a resident of Las Vegas, the police saying they don't know of any ties to any outside groups or militant groups. They say he was in a hotel room on the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay. They found him there dead. They found weapons in that room. We're waiting to get more details from law enforcement about what kinds of weapons those were.

They say that he fired down on a crowd of upwards of 22,000 people who were at an outdoor country music festival. Jason Aldeen was performing. And then concertgoers just began to hear shots - very quick, rapid shots ringing out. The music finally stopped, and people described scenes of just absolute panic and terror, running to wherever they could find safety, being taken by the authorities to different hotels and different places to evacuate and be safe.

At this point, the authorities are telling us that more than 50 people were killed, but the numbers have been going up all morning. And so these are numbers that could change - but the authorities saying more than 50 people have been killed, which would make this the worst, the deadliest, mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

More than 400 people have been taken to hospitals. And we have heard from a congressman this morning from Las Vegas, who was visiting some of those hospitals and just describing that they are being overwhelmed, that every single hospital bed has been taken. He also told us that he was hearing from witnesses that people were giving fellow concertgoers CPR literally at the site of that concert - so a lot to go through this morning as we all are waking up to this news from Las Vegas.

Scott Detrow, is - I mean, this is President Trump. We're going to hear him talk about a deadly shooting. As you have pointed out, President Obama had to do this repeatedly. This is one of those moments that - I don't know. I feel like there are a lot of Americans who just wonder what the answers are. What can the president say? What can lawmakers say? What can people do to make sure this doesn't happen?

DETROW: Right. And we have far more questions than answers right now as to the motivation here, as to what exactly happened. One thing that I was thinking as you spoke just now is so many of the other mass shootings that we've been talking about that are kind of seared into our recent memory, brains happened in very close quarters. I think one thing that's striking about this attack is that it was from relatively far away. You have this concert happening, and then he's in the window at this casino that was several hundred yards away.

GREENE: And a huge venue - I mean, just outdoors and...

DETROW: Right. And we've seen these graphic images of the window of the 32nd-floor hotel room shot out - so I think a lot of questions. And we might not know until later today, until weeks what exactly - what was going on here. But yeah, I think there's also some uncertainty as to how President Trump will handle this moment.

We saw just this weekend, there's a massive humanitarian crisis happening in Puerto Rico, and President Trump took that moment to criticize the mayor of San Juan who had spoken out against the federal response and described some Puerto Rican politicians but also some of the Puerto Rican people in very harsh, combative terms. So that's what he's done at moments before. At other moments, like after the congressional shooting in June, President Trump gave a very typical statement like this where he spoke about unity. He spoke in praise of Steve Scalise, who was shot and actually just returned to Congress just a few days ago.

GREENE: I want to turn - our colleague Leila Fadel is on the line from Las Vegas. She has been there covering this story in that city. Leila, forgive me if I have to cut you off. We're awaiting the president coming out at any moment now. But what are your reflections from this morning? What does that city feel like?

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Well, I think a lot of people are just waking up to find out what's happened in their city. At the country music festival, a lot of the people attending that are likely from out of town. And so this morning, as Las Vegans are waking up, they're realizing they are now the city that is the home to the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. It's also a city that's completely overwhelmed. The hospitals are packed. I was at the University Medical Center earlier. All the police were closing off roads and letting families in one at a time. All the beds were full, and all the hospitals are dealing with this overwhelming tragedy. And so that's really what Las Vegas feels like this morning.

GREENE: I guess we're at least, like, 10, 11 hours or so - I mean, a good bit of time after this happened. I'm not totally doing my math correctly potentially. But I guess I just wondered, do you get the feeling that people have been able to find out about their family members or friends who were at the concert with them? Has that line of communication at least been there, that people are able to get news about people at that concert?

FADEL: Well, that is a big thing that authorities are focused on - family reunification. We saw families in the early morning hours crying outside hospitals. Then the police said, no, come to the Metro headquarters; this is where you can still find them. But a lot of victims haven't been identified. There isn't even a full number of how many people have actually been killed. This is still - the sheriff has been very clear this is not the final number. So you know, people are still trying to find their loved ones, still getting to the hospitals. And again, many of these are likely out-of-towners, so maybe their extended family is not here in Las Vegas.

GREENE: All right. That's NPR's Leila Fadel, who is in Las Vegas. We'll be coming back to you shortly, Leila. NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley is here. We're waiting for the president to come out and speak about this. Can you talk about this moment for Donald Trump, Scott?

HORSLEY: Well, Leila makes an interesting point. Las Vegas is a tourist mecca, and so this is a tragedy that happened in Las Vegas, but the tentacles of this are going to be felt throughout the country.

GREENE: With a lot of Americans who know that city really, really well.

HORSLEY: With dozens of victims, there are going to be communities around this country that will be holding funerals for the victims of this shooting. We heard this morning from Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, who points out that there were some off-duty police officers from his district, Bakersfield, Calif., who were attending that concert, one of whom was wounded. And we're going to see ripple effects like that throughout the community. That makes the stakes especially high when, you know, our national political figure, someone like President Trump, is called upon to address this.

GREENE: All right. We'll be awaiting his remarks shortly, and we'll carry them live for you right here. Ryan Lucas, our justice correspondent, is here as well. What are the key questions right now that you think investigators are asking as they go forward? What are they looking for?

LUCAS: The big one and the main one I think is motivation. We don't know why the alleged shooter, Stephen Paddock, did what he did, what drove him to do it. According to police, he'd been in that hotel room for several days. There was some sort of organization to all this. He had - according to what police have said, he had 10 weapons in the room with him. There was advanced preparation here. Why? Why did he decide that he wanted to shoot up this country music festival?

Two, with the weapons, where did the weapons come from? Where did he get these? Did he get them legally? It appears thus far as though he likely did. But they're going to want to trace those back, figure out when he got them, where he got them.

There's also the question of Marilou Danley - I believe is a woman's name - who police were originally looking for as a person of interest. She's apparently overseas. But that's someone who, even if they decided that she's not directly involved, someone who had contact with him. And they're going to want to get in contact with her and speak to her and see what she has to know. And then I think they're going to go to his house. You want to figure out what there is at his home. And that will help answer the main question that I mentioned first, which is motivation. Why?

GREENE: Which is why. Scott Detrow, we were talking to a Democratic congressman from Nevada, and you asked him what I found to be a really interesting question about some of the potential politics here and the pressure on lawmakers now to do something. Remind me what that was and what you were interested in learning.

DETROW: Yeah. And again, every time we talk about trends in recent mass shootings, I think that is striking in itself - that that's a data point we have to examine and talk about. But as mass shootings keep happening, one thing you've seen is increase social media anger at politicians when they respond, saying our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, which is a very logical thing to say.

GREENE: Sure.

DETROW: It's a gut reaction, human thing to say. But a lot of people, especially people who want to see tighter gun control, say that's not enough. Thoughts and prayers won't keep other shootings from happening. It's responses like what we've heard from many lawmakers saying that, let's keep politics out of the short term.

But you saw a real push, especially from Democrats but from some key Republicans as well after the Sandy Hook shootings in Connecticut to do something about gun control. There was a bipartisan push. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, and Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, pushed to get basic background checks expanded. I'm drawing a blank on some of the specific details because it's been several years ago, but what happened was that was one of many bills that got some bipartisan support in the Senate, but it didn't get the 60 votes it needed to advance and become law.

And that was seen as kind of a high watermark of an attempt to get some sort of gun control legislation passed at the federal level. It just hasn't been successful. You have seen big gun control laws signed in Democratic states like California and New York State and Connecticut in recent years but nothing really at the federal level.

GREENE: We're awaiting the president now coming out, expecting him to speak any moment now about the shooting. I want to bring in Rachel Crosby. She's a reporter with the Las Vegas Review-Journal on the line. Rachel, as we await President Trump, I just always wonder, you know, much of the country turns to the president of the United States and what the message from the White House will be at a moment like this. I always wonder. If you're actually in the city, are people who are dealing with this tragedy this morning right there in their community - I mean, are they awaiting the president? Are they looking for something from him? Or are they focused on other things?

RACHEL CROSBY: I can tell you right now there are lines out the door to donate blood. I know people are just trying to find out how their friends and their loved ones are. I think right now everyone's just focused on getting information and helping out as much as they can.

GREENE: What are your reflections from this morning? I know this is your city. So you are covering this as a journalist and also taking it in as a member of this community.

CROSBY: I'm still - I'm definitely still numb. I was kind of just in work mode all night. It's just not something I am - been able to comprehend yet - the amount of people were injured and the amount of people that have been killed. I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels this way. And I really just can't imagine how people who have heard some terrible news today and how they're feeling.

GREENE: Well, we're obviously thinking about, today, your communities as you suffer through all of this this morning. Rachel Crosby is a reporter with the Las Vegas Review-Journal on the line from Las Vegas. And we'll be we'll be coming back to you as well.

Again, we are awaiting the president of the United States, who's expected shortly to be talking about the events last night in Las Vegas. And for those of you who are just waking up to this, we're told by police in Las Vegas that more than 50 people were killed in a mass shooting last night. Again, that is as of this time. Our colleague Leila Fadel told us and reminded us that those numbers could certainly change as they have been throughout the morning.

This was at a country music festival near the Las Vegas Strip. And the authorities say a gunman on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort opened fire, killing more than 50 people. More than 400 people have been taken to hospitals. The authorities, once they reached that hotel room, found the gunman, who they've identified as Stephen Paddock, dead. There were a number of weapons in that hotel room.

They were originally trying to track down a woman - it sounded like a person of interest - who had some connection to the shooter. The authorities are now saying that she is out of the country, and they do not believe she was involved. But perhaps they're hoping to learn some sort of hint at a motivation for why this took place. We have heard about overwhelmed hospitals, people rushing to try and donate blood to help fellow members of the community and also family members who are still trying to figure out if their loved ones made it through this tragic shooting last night.

This is special coverage. And we're awaiting the president of the United States. And Scott Horsley, NPR's White House correspondent, just remind us what we have heard from the White House so far.

HORSLEY: Again, the president was briefed on this attack early this morning and tweeted about 7 a.m. Eastern Time his warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the shooting. He ended by saying God bless you. You know, you talk about this concert, the Route 91 Harvest Festival, that is going on. Twenty-two-thousand people gathered there at Las Vegas Village. This is the kind of soft target that authorities have sort of worried about in an era of terrorism.

And again, we don't know the motivation here. We do have word from the Homeland Security Department that you may see stepped up security at venues like this in the days that follow. However, they also add that there is no information to indicate a specific credible threat beyond what's happened in Las Vegas.

GREENE: Ryan Lucas, you covered what had been until today the deadliest mass shooting I think in recent history, which was the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. How might federal authorities be treating this in a similar way? How might this be different?

LUCAS: Well, the big difference is in the case of Orlando with Omar Mateen, the shooter there, he made a call to 911 in which he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. And so it was treated immediately as a terrorism investigation. And the big question of why - there was still the question as to why he did what he did, how long, you know, this had been going on and what drove him down that path.

But there was an immediate kind of sense that this is a terrorism investigation, and there's some reason to look back into communications with the Islamic State, if they existed. Here right now, we just - we really don't have an answer to the why question. And that's something that I think is going to be a primary interest for the authorities going forward.

GREENE: Yeah, we had an expert on mass shootings we were speaking to earlier. And he was describing that oftentimes, the typical shooter - and again, you know, what is typical? - but might be a younger man. And the age of 64 is interesting. I mean, it seems like that's not what people who study mass shootings always expect naturally.

LUCAS: I mean, if you look back to the Virginia Tech shooting - what? - 10 years ago, that was somebody in his 20s, if not younger, I believe. In the case of Sandy Hook - young man. In the case of Orlando, Omar Mateen was a young man. So yeah, the age certainly of Paddock does stand out.

GREENE: Scott Detrow...

DETROW: I - just one quick symbolic sign of how big of a national story this is - that we just heard from House Speaker Paul Ryan that he's ordered the flags at the U.S. Capitol to be at half-staff. Again, like we've been saying all morning, this is an attack that has happened that is going to be the focus of everyone and the country's attention for several days to come.

GREENE: Scott Horsley, any sense for what the White House goes through at a moment like this? You're giving me a two minute - we're two minutes away from the president. Set this up for us. I mean, what has been - what have White House aides been doing this morning? I mean, it - rushing around to craft the right message, I would imagine. This is an important moment for a president.

HORSLEY: That's right. On the one hand, you want to try to get the facts, right? You don't want to have the president saying something, maybe ascribing motive that we later find out is incorrect. So you want to get the facts. But then you do want to show the commander in chief as a pillar of comfort, a pillar of strength, a pillar of stability. And this is where the White House speechwriters earn their pay, cranking out a statement like this on very short notice and trying to hit the right notes.

As Scott Detrow points out, this is not a case where we've heard this president a lot. We heard Barack Obama do this over and over again. And, you know, we kind of knew the notes he was going to hit. We're not really sure what to expect in terms of tone, in terms of approach, from President Trump this morning.

GREENE: OK. And again, now we're waiting for the president to come out. We're told by our White House correspondent Scott Horsley that we're just seconds away, we believe. At least that's the White - what the White House is telling us. Again, the president is going to be speaking here in the wake of what's been described as the worst mass shooting in modern American history. The authorities saying more than 50 people killed, more than 400 people taken to hospitals. This was a shooting. A gunman at - upper floor of a hotel firing on a crowd of 22,000 people who were at an outdoor concert venue, a country music festival, in Las Vegas.

We've already been told that the FBI is getting involved with the investigation, helping the authorities in Las Vegas. Hospitals just overwhelmed right now. We have people who are still trying to figure out if their family members are OK, talking about scenes of just absolute chaos. And again, waiting for the president of the United States, who was supposed to be going to Puerto Rico tomorrow to deal with another scene of devastation.

HORSLEY: We were told earlier today that that trip is still on. As of now, we still anticipate that the president will visit Puerto Rico tomorrow.

GREENE: So dealing with - I mean, I guess that's his job.

HORSLEY: Multiple crises, right.

GREENE: Scott Detrow, what are you looking to hear from the president right now?

DETROW: I think the tone will be the most important thing. Tone is such a big part of President Trump's demeanor. His, you know - you know when Trump is giving a serious speech about Afghanistan, and then the rally tone that's usually very energetic, very combative, that is probably what we're most used to hearing from the president. He simply hasn't given that many formal statements, that many formal speeches, in his presidency. Even though it's - we're about nine months in, more than nine months in, we can only really think of a handful of times where President Trump has addressed the nation in a formal, scripted manner. And this is one of them.

GREENE: Ryan Lucas, I mean, does he know stuff probably that he's not going to tell us - I mean, about the investigation and what the FBI investigators might know that they don't really want to tell us all about?

LUCAS: He would most certainly be up-to-date more than the public is at this point, just because it's an ongoing investigation. And the FBI and federal authorities and local authorities are not going to share all of the information that they have in real time. And actually, I have just heard from the Justice Department, Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke with FBI Director Christopher Wray this morning. He's also spoken with the...

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: My fellow Americans...

GREENE: All right, let's - here's President Trump.

TRUMP: We are joined together today in sadness, shock and grief. Last night, a gunman opened fire on a large crowd at a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nev. He brutally murdered more than 50 people and wounded hundreds more. It was an act of pure evil. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are working closely with local authorities to assist with the investigation, and they will provide updates as to the investigation and how it develops. I want to thank the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and all of the first responders for their courageous efforts and for helping to save the lives of so many. The speed with which they acted is miraculous and prevented further loss of life. To have found the shooter so quickly after the first shots were fired is something for which we will always be thankful and grateful. It shows what true professionalism is all about.

Hundreds of our fellow citizens are now mourning the sudden loss of a loved one, a parent, a child, a brother or sister. We cannot fathom their pain. We cannot imagine their loss. To the families of the victims, we are praying for you, and we are here for you. And we ask God to help see you through this very dark period. Scripture teaches us the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. We seek comfort in those words, for we know that God lives in the hearts of those who grieve. To the wounded who are now recovering in hospitals, we are praying for your full and speedy recovery and pledge to you our support from this day forward. In memory of the fallen, I have directed that our great flag be flown at half-staff. I will be visiting Las Vegas on Wednesday to meet with law enforcement, first responders and the families of the victims. In moments of tragedy and horror, America comes together as one, and it always has. We call upon the bonds that unite us - our faith, our family and our shared values. We call upon the bonds of citizenship, the ties of community and the comfort of our common humanity. Our unity cannot be shattered by evil. Our bonds cannot be broken by violence. And though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today and always will, forever.

In times such as these, I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness. The answers do not come easy. But we can take solace knowing that even the darkest space can be brightened by a single light. And even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope. Melania and I are praying for every American who has been hurt, wounded or lost the ones they love so dearly in this terrible, terrible attack. We pray for the entire nation to find unity and peace. And we pray for the day when evil is banished and the innocent are safe from hatred and from fear. May God bless the souls of the lives that are lost. May God give us the grace of healing. And may God provide the grieving families with strength to carry on. Thank you. God bless America. Thank you.

MAJOR GARRETT: Mr. President, will this affect (unintelligible) travelling to Puerto Rico?

GREENE: Listening to reporters there shouting some questions to President Trump as he wrapped up some brief remarks on the mass shooting that took place last night in Las Vegas. He said that more than 50 people - and that is what the authorities are telling us - were brutally murdered. This was an act of pure evil. NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley is here. Scott, it was brief, and it was very focused on comfort, unity, some Scripture. What struck you?

HORSLEY: This was a very conventional speech for a president to give in a moment like this, and that makes it an uncharacteristic speech for this most unconventional of presidents we have. This was very much the subdued comforter in chief reaching to Scripture, quoting from the 34th Psalm, not at all the pugnacious president that we've seen responding sometimes to overseas acts of terror.

And that's perhaps appropriate because this was close to home. This was an event that happened in Las Vegas but won't stay in Las Vegas. This is going to have tendrils throughout the country because, we assume, many of those victims were from other parts of the country. So this was Donald Trump acting as the comforter in chief, acknowledging the anger that an act like this provokes in us but also saying it's the love that will define us and sending out a message of national unity.

GREENE: And one thing we know now, the president plans to travel to Las Vegas, he just told us, on Wednesday. And still, at this point, we expect that he's going to Puerto Rico tomorrow as of now.

HORSLEY: You heard Major Garrett asking him as he was walking away from the lectern there. The president did not answer. But we have heard from his spokesperson earlier today. At least as of about 9 o'clock Eastern this morning, the president was still planning to stick with his plan to visit Puerto Rico tomorrow.

GREENE: NPR's Leila Fadel was listening in from Las Vegas. Leila, what struck you, as someone who's been watching the people of this city try to recover and make it through this whole morning?

FADEL: Well, I think, as was already mentioned, this was a speech about comfort, more conventional, not getting at the thorny issues that will surround this going forward, things like gun control and motivation, more political issues that are often very divisive. This is a city that has also stayed away from everything but the facts and help. So in every briefing that I've been at at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department since midnight, since 1 a.m., is about how to help the victims, how to donate blood, how to help families find their family members, how to make sure this city survives this attack and then what to do next.

GREENE: OK. And Scott Detrow, let me give you the last word here. Your reflections from listening to President Trump?

DETROW: You know, I think any time that - like Scott Horsley said, any time that President Trump is scripted and traditional, that's a nontraditional moment for the way he's carried himself as president. But I think this was a speech that you could have heard many of his predecessors give - President Trump saying our community cannot be shattered by evil; our bonds cannot be broken by violence. And it'll be interesting to see what he says going forward and, especially given the Trump presidency, what sort of message he continues to have on social media, among other places, in the coming hours and days.

GREENE: OK. Again, we're told more than 50 people killed last night in a mass shooting in Las Vegas. Ryan Lucas, NPR's justice correspondent, is here and is going to be following the federal role and investigation going forward. NPR's Leila Fadel is on the line from Las Vegas. NPR's Scott Horsley, NPR's Scott Detrow here in Washington with us as well. Thank you all.

DETROW: Thank you, Dave.

HORSLEY: Thank you.

GREENE: And we'll be following...

FADEL: Thank you.

GREENE: ...We'll be following this story as it develops all morning. Again, a mass shooting, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history last night in Las Vegas. More than 50 people killed, the police say. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.