From the News Service of Florida’s Jim Turner and Tom Urban:
Drawing on lessons learned after a nightclub massacre last year in Orlando, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and members of her office will be in Las Vegas the next few days to help victims of the nation’s latest mass killing.
Bondi, along with Emery Gainey, director of the Division of Victim Services and Criminal Justice Programs, and five advocates are traveling at the request of Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt.
The Florida officials hope to use what they learned following the 2016 Pulse nightclub killings in Orlando to help in the aftermath of a mass shooting Sunday night that left at least 59 people dead in Las Vegas.
“Sadly, (in) Florida we know what we’re doing after the Pulse nightclub,” Bondi said Tuesday before an afternoon flight to Las Vegas.
Bondi said the situation in Las Vegas is similar to the Pulse shooting in that many victims of the Orlando massacre or their family members weren’t from Florida.
Many of the 59 people killed and more than 500 injured in Las Vegas had traveled from other states to a three-day outdoor country music festival. They were shot by gunman Stephen Paddock, who fired from a room in the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel and casino.
“We need to help them work through the legal process, connecting with their families and by getting them services,” Bondi said. “Sadly, so many of the victims who died don’t live in Nevada, so help with burial and helping them get back to their respective states.”
Advice will range from transporting bodies across state line to expenses for family members and victims, grief counseling and simply contacting family members, Bondi said.
“There is no amount of counselors in Nevada that could possibly assist, due to the magnitude of this tragedy,” Bondi said.
The National Association of Attorneys General has asked all its members to send advocates.
Bondi said Florida might send more than the five advocates who will be on the ground Wednesday in Las Vegas.
“This is many, many more victims, many hundreds in the hospitals throughout Nevada,” Bondi said. “So we also have offered, at their request … training all the other advocates.”
The Pulse attack left 50 people, including the shooter, dead and another 58 injured. The targets at Pulse were mostly young, gay and Hispanic.
Gunman Omar Mateen --- who said he was inspired by the terrorist group ISIS --- was shot dead by police.
The Pulse massacre had, until Sunday, been considered the nation’s deadliest mass shooting.