Over 50 people have been killed and another 500 injured after the shooting that occurred late at night on Sunday, Oct.1, at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas.
Perched in a window on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, just a half mile away from the festival grounds, the shooter, now identified as 64-year-old male Stephen Paddock, had open range on the innocent festival goers.
“My friend Carol and I were at the back of the crowd when we heard the shots,” Alyssa Vescio, Santiago Canyon College student, said. “At first we thought it was fireworks or part of the show, but then we started to see the chaos and knew something was wrong.”
Vescio and her friend were just two of the thousands of people in attendance at the Route 91 Harvest music festival this past weekend.
Little information has been found in regards to a possible motive or allegiances, but his impact is very clear.
This attack marks the deadliest shooting in American history, beating the Pulse nightclub shooting of 2016 which claimed 49 lives.
Despite the Islamic state claiming responsibility, the FBI has rebuked that statement saying they’ve found no connection between the shooter and the terror organization.
Initial reports stated that there may have been potentially several shooters all along the strip, however, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sheriff Joseph Lombardo has confirmed that Paddock was the one and only shooter.
Like many others, the college student didn’t realize what was happening at first, but when they did, instincts kicked in and carried them to the Tropicana where the two hid out in a computer room.
“At first it was instinctual when we ran out of the venue. But after going into the Tropicana… that’s when we were able to rationally think and hide under tables and plan an escape route.”
Country singer Jason Aldean, who was performing at the time when the shooting began, posted a photo on Instagram asking for “Prayers for Las Vegas” saying that “It hurts my heart…”.
“We grabbed hands and started running out of the venue while people around us got trampled. It was honestly like nothing else I’ve ever experienced in my life. We thought we were going to die,” Vescio said.
According to the SCC student, no one, not even security personnel really knew what was going on. Almost everything along the strip ended up on lockdown, including the casinos.
Despite the Las Vegas Police Department not yet releasing details on what type of weapon he used, analysts and civilians alike have agreed on it sounding like an automatic weapon. Such weapon, which in the state of Nevada, is completely legal to own, according to the National Rifle Association.
Lexy Trani, a Placentia resident, was attending the festival with her friends when the shooting began. She and her friends managed to escape and find refuge behind someone’s RV. “I just need a little time to process this all….”
Also in attendance, Greg Martin, former Fullerton College student, was out to dinner with some friends down the strip from the site of the shooting.
“We saw cop cars driving past us, must’ve been 15 to 20 in a matter of minutes.
We met up with some friends and we’re about to go get drinks when our friend’s wife said she heard about a shooting down the street off of a Lyft drivers community page and this intense, dark feeling overcame everybody and we just split up to head back home,” said Martin.
On his way home, the now Vegas native was met with a gruesome scene. People running for their lives, covered in blood, and two deceased hastily covered with tarps as ambulances worked to try and save those whom were injured.
Both Vescio and Martin were under the impression that there were initially multiple shooters. Other sources have cited the amount of bullets lead them to believe there was more than one gunmen.
The death toll is projected to rise as many injuries have been deemed fatal.
“I just really want people to be more aware and know what to do in a situation like this. Everyone tells you to be aware of your surroundings but no one can know how chaotic and scared you feel in a moment like this, and you only have seconds to think of what to do,” said Vescio.
As of right now, Homeland Security has stated that there is “No ‘specific credible threat’ to other public venues”, according to the Associated Press. Despite this, many are expressing concern over the safety of upcoming festivals such as Escape, an electronic dance music festival.
“I think the important thing to take from this is that as reactive in nature that everybody is, we need to not only come together in times of tragedy, but to remember that we all share the same blood and be a the family we’re meant to be at all times,” said Martin.