Twin Falls Women Recall Las Vegas Shooting
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) It sounded like fireworks.
At least it did to Jessica Ward. She and her friend were leaving the concert at the Mandalay Bay Casino on Sunday night when she heard the popping.
They looked back and didn’t see fireworks. Then police went passed them holding guns. That was when they knew those weren’t fireworks. Those were gunshots.
“I started to run, got behind a brick wall and we ducked down,” Ward said.
At first it seemed like Ward, her friend Madison Shaver, and the police were the only people that realized those were gunshots. But quickly people started shouting to get down. People started climbing fences, Ward saw one man fall hard off the fence. People were running, shouting.
“It became really chaotic,” Ward said. “You could hear people screaming.”
While they ducked behind the wall the popping continued. The gates to the venue flew open and people started piling out. People ran across the strip.
“There was no regard for cars or anybody, you just had to go,” Shaver said.
Ward and Shaver noticed the pattern in the pops. The gunshots sound out quickly, then there were a few seconds of a break from them before they would start again. Ward said they sounded automatic. She assumed the shooter was reloading in those times, so that’s when they would run.
They ran from the brick wall to a bush across the street. From a bush to a hotel on the corner. They couldn’t even be sure if they were running away from or right towards the source of the gunshots.
“It’s one thing to be shot at, but it’s another thing to be shot at and not know where the bullets are coming from,” Ward said. “It sounded like they were all around us.”
The hotel across the street happened to be the one Ward and Shaver were staying at. They shouted at people standing outside the doors waiting for cabs or enjoying their night that the pops were gunshots. They were real. They needed to get inside.
Ward says hotels on the strip were taking people in. They were finding places for fleeing people. Places that weren’t outside where bullets were raining down.
Ward and Shaver got to their room and turned on the news. They didn’t have time to think about anything, but running for their lives while they were outside.
Now that Shaver had time to think, she started thinking of her family. Her mother and sister drove from California to meet them at the concert. They got separated before the shooting started.
“Naturally you start to panic,” Shaver said.
She called for more than half an hour. Shaver was telling herself they were running, distracted, that’s why they weren’t answering. Finally she got ahold of them and found out they were okay. Something she considers a miracle.
“I can’t believe my family made it out okay,” Shaver said.
Her sister found refuge in a parking garage and her mother in a hotel. Shaver later found out her mother carried someone who had been shot in the back to a patrol car.
By 11:30 a.m. Monday they were finally allowed to leave the city. The two drove back home trying to process the tragedy they just lived through.
“It could have gone so many different ways,” Ward said. “At the end of the day we’re just really fortunate that we’re going home to our families because a lot of people aren’t.”
By Monday night the death toll was at 58. Hundreds more were injured. It ended up being the largest shooting in modern U.S. history.
“I’m very happy that we’re okay, but it’s just such a hard feeling to think of all the young people, or old people or anybody that didn’t make it out,” Shaver said.