By Dan Hernandez
2 October 2017
People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas after gunfire was heard on Sunday night. Photograph: David Becker/Getty Images
Long after a gunman opened fire from the top story of the Mandalay Bay hotel on Sunday night, killing more than 50 people and injuring at least 200, people in dusty, blood-stained T-shirts and jeans were still jogging away from the scene.
Flashing red and blue lights from countless ambulances and police cars nearly outshone the casino towers on the Strip. At the Rebel gas station behind the MGM Grand, survivors stood teary-eyed and shocked. Some made calls to their families. They wondered where they would go. Many had room in hotels that were now under lockdown, blockaded by law enforcement.
“The news said it all,” said Jackie Hoffing, her eyes glassy, still in a clear state of trauma. “We were there enjoying our time and it was very obvious it was gunfire coming down into the crowd.
“It was hysteria. There were people trampled. We jumped walls, climbed cars, ran for our lives. I’ve never run that hard or been that scared in my whole life.”
The two gold towers of the Mandalay Bay overlook the site where a country music concert was being staged. Jason Aldean was beginning his set when, from a room on the 32nd floor, the shooter opened fire.
“It sounded like something was wrong with the speakers,” said William Walker of Ontario, California. “Jason Aldean kept playing through three rounds of it. Then once he stopped everyone took it more seriously …
“I started kicking down fences to take shelter behind the buildings.”
It sounded like machine gun fire. Bullets hit concertgoers and sparked off the pavement. Hundreds ran. Others ducked or fell on top of one another.
“Two girls hid behind a car with us, right outside the concert,” said Desiree Price, from San Diego. “We huddled together. That’s why I have their blood on me. One girl was shot in her leg, the other had it in her shoulder. It didn’t stop so we all ran – we kept going.”
Emily Anderson, also from San Diego, said: “I saw a lady get hit in the leg and her boyfriend dragging her out and everyone was running. It was chaos.”
Many said the gunshots sounded as though they were coming from different directions – and getting closer each time the shooter reloaded.
“We were under a big spotlight and someone said, ‘Turn off the light,’” William Walker recalled. “They shut it off and you could see and hear bullets hitting the ground. People piled up behind cop cars and ex-military guys were saying, ‘Give me a gun, I’m going to get these fuckers.’”
Taking cover under a table, Kevin Kropf, from Orange County, California, waited until tactical police units came in.
“I didn’t want to get up because I didn’t want to get mistaken for a bad guy and get shot,” he said. “I saw a couple people on the street covered up with sheets, and them loading one girl into the back of a truck. She was definitely dead … she looked to be in her mid-20s and whoever she was with, her husband, was in the back of the truck too. He was a mess.”
The streets between the concert grounds and the nearest medical center were a non-stop convoy of ambulances and police.
“I want to find my friends,” said Desiree Price. “I want to go to my hotel room. I want to go home.”
She reunited at the Rebel gas station with a friend who had taken shelter with dozens of others in a stranger’s condo.
“I’m still shaking,” Krista Metz said. “Every time I start thinking about it I start shaking again.”
Reports of gunmen and shootings at other hotels circulated on Reddit and Twitter, adding to the chaos and panic. Survivors kept emerging from apartment buildings, motels, parking garages and other emergency shelters. They had nowhere to go, since the Strip remained on lockdown.
“We’ve been in the Motel 6,” said Jackie Hoffing, “We had stopped in the lobby and thought we were safe, but then they came in and said, ‘The suspect is here. Everybody has to run.’ It was another stampede. We knocked on a random door and went in there – about 15 of us – and hid in the bathroom for two and a half hours.
“I was texting my children. I thought we were going to die. I told them, ‘I love you.’”
At Least 50 Dead, More Than 200 Hurt in Las Vegas Shooting
LAS VEGAS, Nevada, Oct 2 (Reuters) - A gunman killed at least 50 people and wounded more than 200 at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday, raining down rapid fire from the 32nd floor of a hotel for several minutes before he was shot dead by police.
The death toll, which police emphasized was preliminary and tentative, would make the attack the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, eclipsing last year's massacre of 49 people at an Orlando night club.
Thousands of panicked people fled the scene, in some cases trampling one another as law enforcement officers scrambled to locate and kill the gunman. Shocked concertgoers, some with blood on their clothes, wandered the streets after the attack.
Police identified the gunman as area resident Stephen Paddock, 64, and said they had no information yet about his motive.
He was not believed to be connected to any militant group, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters.
"We have no idea what his belief system was," Lombardo said. "We've located numerous firearms within the room that he occupied."
Authorities believed they had located Paddock's roommate, who they identified as Marilou Danley. He gave no details of whether she was suspected of involvement in the attack but described her as an "associate."
Police had located two cars that belonged to the suspect.
The dead included one off-duty police officer, while at least one other officer was critically injured, Lombardo said. Police warned the death toll may rise.
Las Vegas police stand guard along the streets outside the the Route 91 Harvest country music festival grounds after a active shooter was reported on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
'Just Kept Going On'
Video taken of the attack showed panicked crowds fleeing as sustained rapid gunfire ripped through the area.
"It sounded like fireworks. People were just dropping to the ground. It just kept going on," said Steve Smith, a 45-year-old visitor from Phoenix, Arizona, who had flown in for the concert. He said the gunfire went on for an extended period of time.
"Probably 100 shots at a time. It would sound like it was reloading and then it would go again," Smith said. "People were shot and trying to get out. A lot of people were shot."
Las Vegas's casinos, nightclubs and shopping draw some 3.5 million visitors from around the world each year and the area was packed with visitors when the shooting broke out shortly after 10 p.m. local time (0400 GMT).
Mike McGarry, a 53-year-old financial adviser from Philadelphia, was at the concert when he heard hundreds of shots ring out.
"It was crazy - I laid on top of the kids. They're 20. I'm 53. I lived a good life," McGarry said. The back of his shirt bore footmarks, after people ran over him in the panicked crowd.
Many casinos in the area locked their doors during the incident to keep out any potential attackers, some using handcuffs to do so, according to witnesses.
"Caesar's Palace had locked their doors. They wouldn't let you in," said Adam Mitchell, a 31-year-old tourist visiting from Britain.
The shooting broke out on the final night of the three-day Route 91 Harvest festival, a sold-out event attended by thousands and featuring top acts such as Eric Church, Sam Hunt and Jason Aldean.
"Tonight has been beyond horrific," Aldean said in a statement on Instagram. "It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night."
U.S. President Donald Trump offered his condolences to the victims via a post on Twitter early Monday.
"My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!" Trump said.
The rampage was reminiscent of a mass shooting at a Paris rock concert in November 2015 that killed 89 people, part of a wave of coordinated attacks by Islamist militants that left 130 dead.
The concert venue was in an outdoor area known as Las Vegas Village, across the Strip from the Mandalay Bay and the Luxor hotels.
"Our thoughts & prayers are with the victims of last night's tragic events," the Mandalay Bay said on Twitter.
(Additional reporting by Chris Michaud and Frank McGurty in New York and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Alison Williams and Scott Malone; Editing by Alison Williams and Bernadette Baum)