UNION COUNTY, NJ — Candlelight vigils were held throughout Union County following the Las Vegas mass shooting in which 58 people were killed and another 489 were wounded or injured.
The massacre on Oct. 1 occurred when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada, opened fire on a crowd of thousands attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. Paddock fired hundreds of rounds from his suite on the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay Hotel.
Four days later, Fanwood hosted a vigil at Dhammakaya Meditation Center on Midway Avenue, which was attended by community members, Fanwood first responders and members of the gun safety advocacy group, Moms Demand Action.
Mayor Colleen Mahr related the Las Vegas shooting to another shooting two years ago on the same day, when a gunman killed 10 people and injured seven at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore.
Mahr took the opportunity to refer to the gun violence in America as a public health crises and cited statistics from the advocacy group Everytown For Gun Safety to push gun-control legislation.
Others echoed Mahr’s gun-control message, including the Rev. David Jahnke of Fanwood Presbyterian, who urged those present to lobby federal lawmakers to for more firearms limitations, including more restrictions on private sales, the “bump stocks” used by Paddock to make his semiautomatic weapons fire more rapidly, and to limit magazines to 10 rounds.
Similar events were held throughout Union County, including in Westfield, Summit, Union, New Providence, Linden, Cranford and Roselle.
About 100 residents gathered at the Islamic Center of Union County in Union on Saturday, Oct. 7, where an active discussion took place as to how residents can achieve the peace they want to see in the world.
Among the speakers at the Union event were Jason Krychiw, a candidate for the Union Township Committee, and ICUC Director Wail Rasheed.
Wail spoke about what the religious and faith communities can do to sustain peace, while Krychiw spoke on how individuals can increase civic engagement, ultimately invoking the “it takes a village” mentality.
The night ended with a short prayer followed by reception, Krychiw told LocalSource on Oct. 8.