Jake Owen on Las Vegas Shooting: Scene Was 'Like a Bad Movie'

Singer was watching headliner Jason Aldean from side stage when shooting began at Route 91 festival, leaving more than 50 dead

Jake Owen gives an eyewitness account of the chaos that followed the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas Sunday night. Credit: Mindy Small/FilmMagic

Jake Owen was watching from the side of the stage at the Route 91 Harvest Festival as chaos erupted when a gunman opened fire during Jason Aldean's set, killing more than 50 people and wounding some 400 concertgoers in the huge crowd across from Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Early Monday morning, Owen called in to the nationally syndicated Bobby Bones Show, giving listeners a firsthand account of the horrific events as they unfolded.

"You could hear it ringing off the top of the roof," said Owen, who performed just before Aldean. "There was people freaking out, everyone starting fleeing every which way. When you got out in the parking lot area where we were running to, there's people bleeding and lying in the streets. It's literally like a bad movie, like something you dream and think you're going to wake up at any point. I think we're all still trying to figure out… this is real life. This is weird."

Bones then asked the singer at what point he realized the sound he was hearing was actual gunfire and not firecrackers.

"What was crazy was, I've heard guns fire," Owen said. "This sounded like a full-on automatic rifle just unloading. At that point you could just see, Jason was out on the catwalk and he just put his guitar up in the air and started running back towards the drum set to get off the stage. That's when you knew. People starting fleeing in the crowd. It was wild, I've never seen anything, obviously, like this before."

Rolling Stone Country writer Mark Gray, who was in Las Vegas to cover the festival events, was standing outside one of the suites directly across from Mandalay Bay and filed a chilling account of the events as they happened.

"I ran into the suite with about 40 other people," he writes. "Some people got behind a refrigerator. Most people got on the ground. I was one of those people on the ground. People started pouring through the door looking for safety. People started climbing through the windows. 'Get down, stay down,' everyone said, as gunfire raged from the 32nd floor. Of course, we didn't know that that is where the shots were coming from. It sounded like the shooter was in the crowd. The sound started getting louder – or at least it seemed that way. The shooter seemed close, we thought. The glass windows of the suite started getting shot out. I felt shards of glass falling on my back. We all did. People were crawling into the ground level suite through the blasted out windows. I don't know what happened to them."

The shooter was later identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada. Las Vegas Metro Police Department revealed that Paddock had opened fire from his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the adjacent Mandalay Bay hotel and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound just as SWAT was about to breach his hotel room.