1 October. One Year Later. Finally opening up to what happened at Route 91.
There are things in life that you can never prepare yourself for, and being a victim of and witnessing a mass shooting is one of them. October 1, 2017, a year ago today, my life was forever changed. It was a regular Sunday, brunch with friends and maybe too many mimosas, and lots excitement for the evening’s shows at Route 91. The headlining performer for the evening was Jason Aldean. I had been wanting to see him for year because he was one of the first artists that got me into country music.
We, my ex-boyfriend and I, arrived as it was getting dark. Our friends from brunch were already there and we were just walking around trying to find them. Once we did, we found a good spot in front of a bar, middle of the crowd with a decent view of the stage, we were still pretty far back thought. Jason Aldean finally came on and there was so much excitement and joy in the crowd. Everyone was having a great time and just enjoying the music and the friends they were there with.
All of a sudden I hear this loud sound, like a firecracker. I look at my boyfriend and said, “what the fuck, why would someone bring firecrackers!?” Jason Aldean was still performing at that time. I heard it again, and thought the same thing as I looked around. Then all of a sudden there was this loud sound, I thought it was a malfunction with the audio system on stage. The lights went out and everything went quiet when someone in the crowd shouted “shooter!” Everyone looked around. Was this a joke? The lights came on and again they yelled “shooter!” and then the rapid shots were firing. People dropped to the ground. I turned around to my friends behind me as I was dropping to the ground and she said “we have to run, we have to go!” And then they were gone. All I kept thinking in my head is that, this isn’t real, this can’t be happening. My boyfriend told me to get up and run, so I did. Running for my life, only a few feet, then he tackled me to the ground as I could hear shots firing. Then they stopped. He said, “he’s reloading, get up and run.” And I ran the fastest I ever ran in my life. People were running in every direction, hiding behind Budweiser signs. As I was running, I looked to my left to see a man pulling a young girl who was lifeless, to him behind the Budweiser sign. I stopped and looked back to see where my boyfriend was, he was right behind me. There was a large mass of people trying to squeeze into the small exit behind the food vendors. Pushing and shoving as you could still hear the shots echoing into the night. People were hiding in vendor tents and running in all directions. At one point, I recall a few people getting into the cab of a delivery truck behind the vendor tents.
When we finally reached the exit, there was a police officer waving us to go across the street. The Tropicana was across the street. I could still hear shots being fired and I thought to myself, why hasn’t this person been stopped yet?
We made our way inside to the MGM to find a place to sit down and call our families. I reached inside my purse, my phone was gone. I had just bought it the day before. However, at that time, a lost phone wasn’t important. We were watching the tv’s to see if the news had reported anything yet. It was calm inside the MGM, like the others had not idea about what was happening outside.
For what seemed to be like an hour, it was only a few minutes until I heard a mad rush of people coming down the escalator yelling and screaming, “shooter!” Everyone ran. There was a side door that went outside to the back area of MGM. People were running, and screaming, but I didn’t hear any shooting. Maybe it was a false alarm, but I wasn’t going to stick around to find out.
I had called my friend to come pick us up, but they had most of the streets to Las Vegas Blvd blocked off, so we had to walk all the way down to Paradise Blvd by the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. If you’re familiar with Las Vegas, you know its a fair, a dark walk. When we finally got to the Hard Rock. They weren’t letting anyone in that wasn’t a hotel guest. I quickly explained that we were at the concert and that we are jus waiting for a friend to pick us up. Thank goodness they let us in because at that point I was exhausted; emotionally, physically and mentally.
When my friend had finally arrived to pick us up, we found out that majority of the strip was on lockdown. Meaning, you couldn’t get in or out of the hotel. Well my car was parked at the Luxor, which is right across the street from the festival grounds. It wasn’t until about 3:30am that I was able to get my car and go home. All I wanted to do was get to my house, my save place, and go to sleep.
Now, if you’re wondering whatever happened to my phone, let me tell you a little interesting story. It had fallen out of my purse, I assume when I dropped the ground. Friends who knew I was there were calling my phone. A girl, named Morgan, answered my phone, which was sitting on a table next to some other peoples personal belongs inside the Tropicana. How in the world did my phone get there!? Long story short, my friend who had called and talked to Morgan, had been in contact with my boyfriend through Facebook messenger letting her know that we were ok. The next day I met Morgan and we have been in contact and Facebook friends since.
What happened on October 1 is truly the most horrific and terrifying event I have ever witnessed. I wish that no one ever has to know what the feeling is like to run for your life. I didn’t cry or have a breakdown until the following morning, when I watched all the videos on Facebook. The sound of an automatic weapon firing will never leave my mind. I do have moments of PTSD, and maybe thats because I’ve never fully dealt with it. A year later, I’m still haunted by the night every single day that I have to drive past Mandalay Bay to go to work. I work for an MGM property, and #vegasstrong is in my face more than I’d like it to be. But I will say this, our city came together like nothing I’ve ever seen before in a community and it makes me proud to call Las Vegas my home, even if its only been for a short while.
On the 1 year anniversary of this event, I am in Dallas, Tx because I am relocating there at the end of the month. I love Las Vegas, and it was always be a part of me, especially October 1, but it is time for a new adventure. I hope ya’ll follow me on the next chapter of my journey and are just as excited about it as I am.