Vigil For Vegas: UConn comes together to mourn, discuss gun violence

Event attendees included Mansfield Mayor Paul Shapiro, the university’s Chief of Police Hans D. Rhynhart, advisor of the Muslim Student Association Reda Ammar, Reverend Ryan Lerner and various other public officials. (Nicholas Hampton/The Daily Campus)

The greater Storrs-Mansfield community gathered on Fairfield Way Thursday night to discuss and mourn the recent events in Las Vegas, where a shooter took the lives of 59 people and injured 489 others.

UConn Against Gun Violence and the Student Coalition for Social Justice sponsored the gathering.

Event attendees included Mansfield Mayor Paul Shapiro, the university’s Chief of Police Hans D. Rhynhart, advisor of the Muslim Student Association Reda Ammar, Reverend Ryan Lerner and various other public officials.

The event began with the singing of “America the Beautiful” by the university’s newest co-ed a-cappella group Notes Over Storrs.

Second to take the stage was Elizabeth Charash, president of UConn Against Gun Violence and Daily Campus copy editor.

“We are here yet again because America has witnessed another mass shooting,” Charash said.  “Each day 93 people lose their lives to gun violence in America.”

Rhynhart took to the stage to speak on the role of police and emergency staff in tragedies such as Sunday’s.

“Each day we are reminded of the continued violence across our country and the devastating impact it has on us at home,” Rhynhart said. “Let’s remember and honor the first responders who provided critical care to the injured and worked to stopped the violence, and the ordinary people attending the concert who became extraordinary people.”

Pastor Nancy McLaren followed Rhynhart’s speech with the ringing of a bell 59 times for the victims of the tragedy.

“The only way to begin to heal and to make forward progress is to know where the pain comes from,” McLaren said. “Tonight is not a time to move towards action, tonight is a night to grieve and mourn.”

In a demonstration of solidarity, Lerner had the crowd join hands and made 59 of those individuals sit to commemorate the victims.

“This could happen to anyone, at anytime, unless everyone, every time, stands up and says ‘no more,’” Lerner said.

The night came to a close with a final performance of “This Little Light of Mine” by Notes Over Storrs.

“We, as the Mansfield community and the UConn community, as a family together need to express our grief,” Shapiro said. ”There is a need for us to share our grief and express our solidarity for those who have lost their loved ones.”


Collin Sitz is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus.  He can be reached via email at collin.sitz@uconn.edu.