People visit a makeshift memorial for victims of the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sept. 30, 2018. (Photo: John Locher/AP, file)
LAS VEGAS — Online opinions favored putting a permanent memorial to the 2017 Las Vegas Strip massacre at the outdoor concert site where 58 people were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, a planning panel heard Wednesday.
More than 6,000 responses were received during a two-week effort to collect ideas, 1 October Memorial Committee Chairwoman Tennille Pereira said as the results were made public.
More than 65% of respondents called it extremely or very important to have the memorial at the 15-acre site owned by MGM Resorts International across Las Vegas Boulevard from its Mandalay Bay resort.
"We really want to respect what they're bringing to us," Pereira said of respondents. "This is only the first inquiry or engagement with the community."
More than 850 people from Nevada, California, 13 other U.S. states and Canada were injured fleeing gunfire raining into a country music crowd of 22,000 people, and untold numbers of others were affected. The deaths of at least two people later were blamed on gunshot wounds.
Questionnaire director Bridget Kelly told the panel that one in five respondents identified themselves as having been wounded or survived the shooting. Nearly half identified as a community member. Names were not sought, but respondents were asked their postal ZIP codes.
"A lot of it was very heartbreaking," Kelly said.
The questionnaire did not constitute a scientific survey, but the committee plans to incorporate opinions in its decision-making.
About one in six respondents felt strongly the memorial should not be at the event site. Kelly noted that those who indicated they lost immediate family members or said they suffer post-traumatic effects were most likely to be among that group.
A memorial would be separate from a Community Healing Garden in downtown Las Vegas that was created following the shooting.
The lone gunman killed himself before police reached him. While local and federal investigators concluded he meticulously planned the attack and appeared to seek notoriety, they could not identify a clear motive.
In a statement, MGM Resorts called establishing an official, permanent memorial "vital to the healing process" and applauded the committee's "compassionate and thoughtful approach."
The concert site has remained idle for more than three years. MGM Resorts said more than a year ago it planned to remake the site into a community center for events like high school basketball and indoor soccer — along with space to honor victims of the shooting. Work has not begun.