At least 50 people are dead and more than 400 injured after a gunman with an automatic weapon opened fired on a crowd of country music fans at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. Rolling Stone Country had a writer on-site when the chaos erupted. This is his first person account.
"Get down, stay down." Those are the words that I'm hearing as gunshots are ringing out around me. Just moments before, I was listening to Jason Aldean sing "When She Says Baby" during his set at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
In the beginning, it sounded like two firecrackers going off.
I was standing outside suite 5, directly across from Mandalay Bay on the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, when the noise began. Two of my friends felt a ricochet of something. "What was that?" one friend wondered as she reached down at her leg. "My leg stings." The other said, "I just felt something, too." A girl near me started screaming hysterically.
Then, there was about 30 seconds of silence and confusion and then pop, pop, pop, pop. And then more pop, pop, pop, pop. Aldean and his band fled the stage and the music stopped.
I ran into the suite with about 40 other people. 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.
It seemed like the shots were never going to stop.
At this point, we all decided we were basically sitting ducks, not knowing where the gunfire was coming from. We had to leave, and we had to leave now. At once, everyone started running out the back door of the suite.
I stayed low, grabbed my backpack and fled fast. Throngs of people were running the same direction.
Across the street from the festival grounds, a few people started pulling down a chain link fence to a parking lot. I jumped over that fence. The gunfire was still happening. I saw a few semi trucks and ran toward them. I ducked behind them with a few other people.
"Just stay here, babe," a guy told his girlfriend, her leg covered in blood. She seemed in shock, but not in pain. I asked her if she was OK, and she nodded. A girl with a broken leg needed help getting off an adjacent trailer bed. Two other girls and I helped carry her to the street.
I looked up at Mandalay Bay and saw a light flickering, while shots were still ringing out. Was this the shooter? Maybe. I didn't stare long enough to find out.
A few minutes later, the sound stopped, but the chaos continued. As I continued to run from the venue, I saw pickup trucks driving insanely fast with people yelling about hospitals ("Where's the fucking hospital?" someone shouted.) I saw police and ambulances driving fast towards the festival grounds. By now, I'm near Mandalay Bay – keep in mind, no one knew where the gunfire was coming from. I smelled gunpowder. A lot of gunpowder.
My phone started ringing from friends and family. "I'm OK," I tell them, while I'm huffing and puffing and running away from the venue.
As I write this, I'm only two hours removed from this incident and as of now at least 50 are dead and over 400 are injured.
At least 50 people were killed, hundreds more wounded when shooter opened fire from Mandalay Bay's 32nd floor into crowd at Route 91 Harvest country music festival. Watch here.