The teddy bears belonged in a child’s bedroom, the votive candles in a local church. Instead, they were among the thousands of items left by the grieving near the site of the largest mass shooting in modern American history.
They are now part of “How We Mourned,” a somber exhibit at the Clark County Museum that helps mark the first anniversary of the Oct. 1, 2017 shooting spree that killed 58 people and wounded over 800 at an outdoor festival on the Las Vegas Strip.
Stephen Paddock, 64, a retired real estate investor, poured gunfire from his 32nd-floor hotel suite into a crowd of 20,000 people attending the Route 91 Harvest festival last Oct. 1, then killed himself before police stormed his room.
In August, authorities closed their investigation without an explanation for what motivated Paddock.
After the carnage, scores of Las Vegas residents and visitors placed an eclectic array of offerings in various areas of the gambling mecca, including the traffic island that’s home to the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.
Museum Administrator Mark Hall-Patton said only a relatively small portion of the more than 15,000 items collected – approximately 3,000 – were displayed in the exhibit.
With 25 volunteers spending 7,000 hours sorting, photographing and cataloguing what Hall-Patton called trailerloads of items, the artifacts will eventually be placed in storage and made available for study.
“Anything that could be saved, we saved,” Hall-Patton said. “We’re not done yet.” The exhibit is on display until February 28.