Local firefighter wounded in Las Vegas mass shooting

NOTE: This story has been updated to include the identity of the fire employee, identified in news reports and confirmed independently by The Coast News. 

ENCINITAS — An Encinitas deputy fire chief was one of the nearly 530 people injured when a gunman killed 59 people at a Las Vegas concert, the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, The Coast News has learned.

Encinitas Fire Department Chief Mike Stein confirmed that a fire department employee was shot the evening of Oct. 1 during the Route 91 Harvest Festival, where 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino into the crowd of 22,000 people attending the outdoor country music event.

The shooting rampage resulted in 59 deaths and 527 injuries, some from gunfire and others from the chaotic aftermath. 

Stein said the fire department employee was treated at a hospital in Las Vegas, released and is recovering at home. He declined to name the employee and their rank, citing the employee’s wish to remain out of the public limelight.

The Coast News first learned about firefighter from a North County resident who said in an email that an Encinitas fire employee, a friend of his, was shot twice in the leg. 

A San Diego Union-Tribune article identified one of the injured victims as John Blumeyer, a deputy fire chief with the Del Mar Fire Department. Encinitas, Del Mar and Solana Beach operate under a cooperative agreement and share fire chiefs.

The Coast News contacted a woman who identified herself as Valerie Blumeyer, John’s twin sister. She confirmed that her brother was shot in the incident. She learned about it Sunday night when her parents told her that the incident was on the news and they were informed that John had been shot.

“I was shocked,” Valerie Blumeyer said. “What is this world coming to where someone can open fire on people at a concert? I’m very relieved that my brother is OK.”

Authorities are still trying to determine the motive of the assailant, who shot and killed himself following the shooting. Investigators are looking to question Paddock’s girlfriend, who returned to the U.S. after a weeks-long trip to the Philippines, seeking clues as to what drove Paddock to embark on his killing spree.

Paddock had been stockpiling guns since 1982 and bought 33 of them, mostly rifles, over the past year alone, right up until three days before the attack, Jill Snyder, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told CBS on Oct. 4.

President Donald Trump arrived in Las Vegas Oct 4 to visit with victims in local hospitals and first responders.

“It’s a very sad thing. We are going to pay our respects and to see the police who have done really a fantastic job in a very short time,” Trump said. He told reporters before departing the White House that authorities were “learning a lot more” about Paddock and it would be “announced at an appropriate time. It’s a very, very sad day for me personally.”

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