Detroit — In the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, Detroiters came together Monday to pray for those who lost their lives and try to make sense of a senseless act.
The Archdiocese of Detroit held a special noon prayer service at St. Aloysius Catholic Church on Washington Boulevard in response to the at least 58 people killed and over 500 injured by a gunman who opened fire Sunday night on 22,000-plus concertgoers in Las Vegas.
The suspect showered bullets from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino as fans listened to country music star Jason Aldean perform outdoors at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
“We pray for those who have been devastated by this recent tragedy in Las Vegas. We pray for those who have lost their lives so suddenly. We hold in our hearts the families who are forever changed by grief and loss,” Monsignor Ronald Browne, judicial vicar at the Archdiocese, told the 15 people gathered at the historic Detroit church, visibly upset by the act.
“Bless those who have survived and heal their bodies and memories of trauma and devastation,” Browne continued. “May they have the courage to face the days ahead.”
Farmington Hills resident Mary Beth Schmid, 59, teared up thinking about all the people who, she said, went “out to have a fun evening, and then this tragedy strikes.”
“I just can’t wrap my head around such tragedy all the time, and it just makes me sad that so many people were killed and injured for nothing,” Schmid said. “And I feel bad for the killer and where he was in his life.”
Schmid, who works at the Archdiocese, said one of her coworkers has a friend who works at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
“She was very worried about her, but she did just contact her and let her know that she was safe,” she said.
On Monday, reports described the horror as people scrambled for their lives.
Tennessee resident Heather Gulish Melton told a Nashville station that her husband was fatally shot as he shielded her body.
“He saved my life and lost his,” Melton said.
Previously, the deadliest mass shooting had been at Orlando’s Pulse gay nightclub, where 49 people were killed in an attack on June 12, 2016. Omar Mateen, who was shot dead by police, was a 29-year-old U.S. citizen who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a phone call to 911 during the shooting.
Before that, 33 people died in the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.
During the special service Monday, Browne read a scripture from the Book of Isaiah, praying for “those who have died as victims of violence” and “families who suffer as the result of the death of their loved ones.”
St. Aloysius pastor Loren Connell spent a few minutes talking about the tragedy during afternoon Mass, acknowledging that the victims were just “having fun” in the streets.
“Being safe is about as far from our minds right now,” he said.
While the massacre occurred on American soil, Connell noted violence in South Sudan, Central African Republic and Syria.
“It’s psychologically impossible for us to be conscious of all the violence and injustice that goes on in our world,” he said, “but we …(must have) the awareness that it is there.”
Everyone must bring “those who suffer” and “those who impose suffering, in our hearts,” he added.
“Violence is being perpetrated ... often by confused people,” he said. “I’m sure as the weeks go on we will learn more about the person who killed the people in Las Vegas. We will learn more about his history and whatever issues were troubling him.”
The gunman was identified as Mesquite, Nevada resident Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, who SWAT teams found had killed himself in his hotel room. Authorities say he had as many as 10 guns with him, and the attack has no immediate connection to a terrorist organization.
Harper Woods resident Freeda Mariable didn’t know anyone affected by the shooting, but woke up Monday morning to the news, feeling shaken by the violence and those who lost their lives.
“I thought it was important to come and offer prayers,” Mariable said.
Schmid felt the same way.
“I just came to be with others and pray for them today,” she said, “and hope that some comfort can come on some level.”