Las Vegas concertgoers claim personal items left after massacre

LAS VEGAS, Oct 8 (Reuters) - The FBI on Sunday started returning thousands of purses, phones and other property left behind by concertgoers in Las Vegas fleeing the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, as the Red Cross stepped up efforts to reach those traumatized by the Oct. 1 massacre.

Investigators still lack a clear reason why Stephen Paddock, 64, unleashed a torrent of gunfire into a crowd of 22,000 at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. The suspect shot himself to death before police stormed his 32nd-floor suite in the Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort, high above the concert venue.

"We're past the response portion of this horrible incident," Clark County Emergency Manager John Steinbeck said at a news conference. "We're moving into the recovery now."

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Las Vegas Boulevard remains closed near the mass shooing site at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A man stands next to a bouquet of flowers along a pedestrian walkway looking towards where a mass shooing at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival took place Monday night on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 3: Law enforcement vehicles gather near one of the entrance points to the concert venue where Sunday night's mass shooting, October 3, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, allegedly opened fire from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the music festival, leaving at least 58 people dead and over 500 injured. According to reports, Paddock killed himself at the scene. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 3: Las Vegas Blvd. remained closed to vehicular traffic near the scene of Sunday night's mass shooting, October 3, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, allegedly opened fire from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the music festival, leaving at least 58 people dead and over 500 injured. According to reports, Paddock killed himself at the scene. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Las Vegas Boulevard lights-up with with signs for the victims and first responders after a mass shooing at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman hosts a prayer vigil, in honor of those affected by the shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, in front of Las Vegas City Hall in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus
A churches cross is lit by fading daylight as it towers over the scene in front of the stage following a mass shooing at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
People stand along a pedestrian walkway looking towards where a mass shooing at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival took place last night on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Women walk down the Las Vegas strip after roads were closed near the site of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Las Vegas Boulevard lights-up with with signs for the victims and first responders after a mass shooing at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Las Vegas residents Karen Stevens (L) and husband Mark Stevens attend a candlelight vigil at Las Vegas City Hall October 2, 2017, after a gunman killed at least 58 people and wounded more than 500 others when he opened fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada late October 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, USA - OCTOBER 02 : Mandalay Hotel is seen after a gunman attack in Las Vegas, NV, United States on October 02, 2017. At least 59 people were killed and more than 527 others wounded at a country music concert in the city of Las Vegas late Sunday night in the mass shooting. A gunman -- identified as Stephen Paddock -- opened fire on more than 10,000 concert-goers at an outdoor venue from across the Mandalay Bay Hotel at around 10.08 p.m. local time (0508GMT Monday), Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lambardo from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) told reporters. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, USA - OCTOBER 02: Police block the roads leading to the Mandalay Hotel (background) and inspect the site after a gunman attack in Las Vegas, NV, United States on October 02, 2017. At least 59 people were killed and more than 527 others wounded at a country music concert in the city of Las Vegas late Sunday night in the mass shooting. A gunman -- identified as Stephen Paddock -- opened fire on more than 10,000 concert-goers at an outdoor venue from across the Mandalay Bay Hotel at around 10.08 p.m. local time (0508GMT Monday), Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lambardo from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) told reporters. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Fifty-eight people died and nearly 500 were injured.

To honor the victims on Sunday night, marquee lights along the Las Vegas Strip will dim for 11 minutes from 10:05 until 10:16 p.m., the exact time and duration of the gunfire one week ago, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said in a statement.

Unlike so many other perpetrators of deadly mass shootings before him, Paddock left behind no suicide note, no manifesto, no recordings and no messages on social media pointing to his intent, according to police.

Paddock used a device known as a bump stock to make 12 of his rifles operate more like automatic weapons, which are outlawed in the United States. On Sunday, the powerful U.S. gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, said it would oppose an outright ban on bump-stock devices.

On Sunday, teams of counselors fanned out across the city, attending church services and gathering at a family assistance center set up at the Las Vegas Convention Center as the Red Cross set out to find those in need of comfort. Spiritual and legal advisers were also available.

"A week into this, a lot of people have been numb," said Red Cross spokesman Bill Fortune, who flew in from Colorado to help with the recovery effort. "Some of those emotional crises are just showing up today, where people can't get out of bed. People have called saying they can't be in crowds."

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Paola Bautista, 39, from Fontana, California, (R) sits in her hospital bed next to her sister Daisy Bautista at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center after being shot at the Route 91 music festival mass shooting next to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Braden Matejka, 30, (L) and his girlfriend Amanda Homulos, 23, from British Columbia, Canada sit outside Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center after he was discharged after being shot at the Route 91 music festival mass shooting next to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 4: Kassidy Owen, 22, left, and Taylor Schmidt, 21, both of Las Vegas, NV, are photographed on Wednesday, October 4, 2017, in Las Vegas, NV. Owen and Schmidt both survived the mass shooting on Sunday's evening. Sometimes I think it happened then the next second I say did that really happend,' Owen said. 'I keep hearing the shots in my head, people running and hear the ambulances,' she added. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 4: Veteran Steve Charshafian, 59, speaks about Sunday's night mass shooting and recalls helping wounded people on Wednesday, October 4, 2017, in Las Vegas, NV. Charshafian survived the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival shooting with his wife when they hid inside their car. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 04: Aaron Stalker is interviewed outside Dance Dynamics on Wednesday October 04, 2017 in Las Vegas, NV. Stalker helped to evacuate and care for victims during Sunday night's mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Aaron was attending a hockey game when his girlfriend, Stephanie Melanson called him from the concert. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 3: Jonathan Smith was shot at least twice while trying to run back and save others in the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas. (Photo by Heather Long/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 03: Brian Hopkins, the lead singer of the band Elvis Monroe, is interviewed by a tv reported on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip on the on October 3, 2017, after the mass shooting that killed 59 people and inured more than 500 people at the Route 91 Harvest Festival near Mandalay Bay on October 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, NV. Hopkins took over 20 people into a freezer near the venue. Hopkins filmed himself during the shooting, still unsure of what the chaos was going on outside in the venue. (Photo by Doug Kranz/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 2: With the presence of her family, Danny Alegria, from left, Evan Algeria and Lucy Alegria - Carmen Alegria recounts her harrowing experience surviving and escaping the mass shooting that killed 59 and injured more than 525 at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Oct. 2, 2017. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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The process of returning items left behind by those who fled in the chaos could take weeks, authorities said.

So many phones, backpacks, lawn chairs and other items were left behind that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has divided the huge crime scene into four quadrants, releasing items from only one of them at a time, starting on Sunday, FBI Victims Services chief Paul Flood said.

Before release, the items had to be cleaned of blood and other substances, as well as categorized, Flood said. Property from just one quadrant of the scene filled seven delivery-sized trucks, he said, and required the attention of dozens of investigators.

Authorities began returning vehicles left at the concert grounds to their owners last week.

(Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Peter Cooney)

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