Former Detroit FBI Agent Reacts to Las Vegas Shooting

Jake Neher/WDET

Andy Arena (right) with Stephen Henderson (left)

More than 50 people are dead and more than 400 wounded after a gunman opened fire on a crowd of thousands at a country music festival on the Las Vegas strip. That’s according to police who responded to the horrific scene on Sunday night.

They identify the shooter at 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a local resident, who was reportedly found dead by police on the 32nd story of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Police believe Paddock acted alone.

It’s the largest mass shooting in modern United States history. It surpasses the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, which happened just last year.

As of Monday morning, police have not identified what kind of weapon Paddock used in the attack, but witnesses say it sounded like a fully automatic weapon. Video and audio of the shooting certainly seem to back up that suspicion. If that’s the case, it would be an illegal weapon for a civilian to own in the United States.

Former FBI Detroit Division Agent in Charge Andy Arena, who now heads the Detroit Crime Commission, joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to talk about the shooting from a law enforcement standpoint.

This guy put a lot of thought into this,” says Arena. “You can hear the sound of the shots. It’s obviously a fully-automatic weapon.”

Although it’s illegal to own that kind of gun, Arena says it’s relatively easy to convert legal semi-automatic weapons to fully-automatic.

You can do it at home in your basement if you have the wherewithal to do it,” he says.

Arena says there must be more public dialogue around these issues, and not just centered around individual attacks.

We’re, to a certain extent, desensitized to this,” he says. “These things happen, CNN and Fox News will be there reporting it around the clock. And then we move on. And we seem to forget about it — until it happens again.”

And it’s not just a gun problem, it’s a holistic (problem). We have societal issues. And there’s no quick fix to this. But a good start is at least talking about it.”

Arena also talks about new FBI crime statistics that say Detroit is the most violent city in the nation. He says, “I’ve never put a whole lot of stock in these FBI crime reports.”

He also talks about the criminal investigation he is leading into the Flint Water Crisis. Arena says he wants that investigation to wrap up by the end of this year.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

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