Sunday, October 1, 2017, is a day every single person living in or visiting Las Vegas will never forget. The day evil struck down happy festival goers at the Route 91 Country Music Festival. The day Stephen Paddock decided to bring his heinous plot to fruition, to bust the windows out of the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, and start shooting into the festival crowd across the street, Killing 58 and injuring over 500 innocent people. People who just went out for a night of fun and music. Drinking and dancing. Celebration.
I remember waking up sometime in the night as my husband was watching video news on his phone. I asked "what the hell are you doing?" He replied "there's a shooting on the strip!" And I remember saying "how horrible" and fell back asleep. I had taken some Nyquil before bed because I had a head cold, so I was out of it. I woke up that Monday morning to the horrible news of what had happened. I remember looking at my Facebook feed and seeing all of the posts from friends who were either on their way to or working on the "strip". "Shooting on the strip", "freeways closed". And then I watched the chilling videos of it happening. The sounds of the bullets. The poor people screaming that there was nowhere to go as a spray of bullets rained down on them. I cried. My chest felt like it was sucked up inside itself. My heart broke into a million pieces as I watched these poor, innocent people scramble to escape. This was a sad, dark day for our city.
Stephen Paddock checked into the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino on Thursday, September 28, 2017. He was a frequent gambler. A 64 year old retired millionaire who lived in a Mesquite, Nevada retirement community.. There was absolutely no reason for anybody to suspect him of anything. He must have smuggled the 23 weapons and ammunition into the hotel with the 10 suitcases that Las Vegas Metropolitan Police found in his hotel suite. He ended up killing himself before the police got to him. He had no criminal record. No affiliation with any political or terrorist groups. You could see that his poor brother Eric Paddock was completely baffled and horrified to find out that his brother was responsible for such an evil act. when the media interviewed him.
But despite this horrible tragedy, I watched my city come together in droves to help those in need. I watched and read the stories of heroes in the midst of chaos. Regular people who shielded one another from the spray of bullets. Regular people who used their own, as well as random vehicles, to transport the wounded to hospitals and then come back for more. A young Marine who shielded a young woman as they both ran out of the festival, and used his phone to text the young woman's sister that she was safe . A young man who saved 30 people's lives by carrying them out. A woman who stayed with a young man and held his hand while he died. A man who shielded his wife. A young mother who shielded her fiancé because he was hit and then got hit herself. Amazing stories of bravery and courage and compassion.
I would also like to say that our police department did a fine job of acting quickly, bravely and professionally to stop this madman.
Our county commissioner started a Go Fund Me account with 10, 000 dollars of his own money for the victims. It's up to over 8 million dollars 3 days later. The lines to donate blood that Monday were 2 miles long. They had to turn people away because they were at capacity that day. The waiting list is booked for the next 2 weeks . People and local businesses donated food and beverages to the folks waiting in line to give blood. Evel Pie Pizza in downtown Las Vegas donated boxes of pizzas. Hotels and casinos offered free rooms for those victims who were displaced. I have never been more proud of my hometown. In the wake of this despicable tragedy, we rose up. We came together. We are Vegas Strong.
We offer our thoughts, prayers and love to all of those affected by this horrible tragedy.
Love and Light to all.