What do Muhammad Ali and the Vegas Shooter Have in Common?

Muhammad Ali’s iconic “rope-a-dope” boxing style clearly had an impact beyond the world of boxing.

This unique tactic designed to distract and/or confuse in order to engage or cover up an unsuspected or counterattack has had numerous applications. Such a list would be incomplete without the example of the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting, a.k.a., the Vegas shooting.

Since 2014, the Route 91 Harvest was one of the most successful country music festivals in the world. With impressive, all-star line-ups, sold-out venues, and an open sky arena, it was indeed any fan’s dream concert setting. Held on a 15-acre-plot in Paradise, Nevada’s Las Vegas Village, it annually drew over 20,000 screaming fans every year. However, all that changed on the festival’s final night On October 1st, 2017.

The crowd was at capacity as headliner Jason Aldean began singing his hit “When She Says Baby.” Just then, a gunman, later identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock smashed his own room window of the Mandalay Bay Resort and opened fire on the defenseless crowd below.

Deadliest Night in America

In a span of just 10 horrific minutes, 58 people were murdered and more than 800 others were injured; it was the deadliest mass shooting in recorded American history. Before the police were able to reach him, he had already turned the gun on himself. This account from Wes Perry, director of country sponsorships in an interview with Rolling Stone, provides a glimpse into the moment:

“I was near the end of the hallway and he was at the very end of the hallway,” Perry tells Rolling Stone. “I looked out the window and I could see very clearly down at the festival site — which is actually why I loved that room — and it was all dark. I had the same view as the shooter.”

When the gunfire erupted at 10:05 p.m. Pacific time, Perry was startled out of the humming silence of his hotel room, where he’d gone to rest and charge his phone after spending Sunday at the festival. To this day, the Nashville resident still needs a white-noise machine to fall asleep.

“You have to stop and realize how much it’s changed you,” says Perry, who is the director of country sponsorships at Live Nation, the promoters behind Route 91. “You may not realize day to day, in the moment, what it’s done to you, but then you look back and say, ‘Wow, my life changed because of that.’ ”

Unfortunately, while the FBI concluded its findings in 2019 stating, “there is no single, clear or motivating factor,” we know little more about Stephan Paddock five years later than we discovered in the first few months following the incident. This lack of resolve gives little solace to nearly 900 families whose lives will never be the same.

Sketchy Facts

In 2018, we discovered that he was a retired postal worker, accountant and real estate investor, and was an avid gambler as well, risking tens of thousands of dollars at a time. We also knew that he wired his girlfriend $150,000 after sending her to the Philippines to visit her family, distancing himself as he stockpiled weapons as well as
ammunition.

There was even video footage of Paddock wheeling bag after bag into his hotel suite, without so much as a question or concerns from the hotel, or the security guards that helped him. With all that we know, there is still so much we don’t know.

Why would an individual with seemingly no motive and no political affiliation or financial challenges suddenly decide to murder nearly 100 innocent people? Why would a man seen loading multiple bags into his hotel room not raise any red flags from hotel personnel?

Why was security guard Jesus Campos, a key witness to the shooting, allowed to go to Mexico immediately after the massacre? Why was Campos protected by MGM, and only allowed to interview on the MGM-sponsored Ellen DeGeneres TV show?

∙Why didn’t Campos report his being shot six-minutes before Paddock opening fire, which would have put Mandalay Bay on high alert, saving lives?

Before the story was revised through mainstream media, the real questions were being asked. Now, hot leads have suddenly become cold, and main suspects are now merely ‘persons of interest.’

What was being covered up?

What did this event distract us from? Tragedies such as this, the Michael Brown shooting, as well as the JFK murders have joined by the long list of front-page headlines and narratives with secretive, clandestine meanings in their backgrounds.

Rather than demand the truth behind such stories, much of society chooses to simply accept at face value what is being offered to them. It is due to this that those in power continue to manipulate those without. As long as we continue to fall for distractions masquerading as breaking news, when it comes to the ‘rope-a-dope’ scenarios, we will always unfortunately be the dopes.

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