Dozens of students and staff members gathered in Kogan Plaza Monday night to remember the victims of a mass shooting at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas.
A gunman fired an assault rifle into a crowd of concertgoers from a nearby hotel room Sunday night, killing more than 50 people and injuring hundreds more in one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.
Attendees held electric candles and some wiped away tears as students from the Las Vegas area spoke about how the shooting had personally affected them.
Junior Eliza Lancaster, a Las Vegas native, organized the vigil and handed out battery-powered candles to attendees. Students from her high school were injured in the shooting and she said it would take her a while to fathom the events of Sunday night.
Lancaster said she felt personally proud to be from Las Vegas and was grateful that members of the GW community had come out to stand in solidarity with her hometown.
“It is indicative of the GW colonial spirit that people have come to show their support tonight,” she said.
Lancaster said she organized the event to remind people of the seriousness of the Sunday’s tragedy and its consequences. She urged people in need of assistance to seek out mental health resources and handed out flyers about coping with grief from the Community Counseling Services Center, run by the Graduate School of Education and Human Development.
At the half-hour-long vigil, students remembered the shooting’s victims through moments of silence and prayer. Attendees spoke about how the community was pulling together in the wake of the tragedy.
Vanessa Valdez, a junior from Las Vegas, said the support she received at the event gave her hope for the future.
“This is motivating me to keep fighting and stop this from happening to any other city,” she said. “People never should not be afraid to congregate and be together in this country.”
Freshman Elijah Osbourne said attendees should demand legislators support policies aimed at stopping future mass shootings.
“We cannot simply mourn the deaths that results from this tragedy but prevent it further,” Osbourne said.