Sunday night’s deadly shooting in Las Vegas triggered a mass exodus of nearly 23,000 people fleeing for safety, including our Learfield colleague Dan Dolby of UNLV’s Sports Properties. A gunman opened fire – killing at least 59 people and wounding more than 500 others.
The popular summer country music festival in the Sin City is one that Dolby goes to each year. His family and friends are country music fans, not to mention that his friends organize the event.
Artist Jason Aldean was about six songs into his set when gunfire broke out. Dolby tells MNN he could hear the sound of bullets flying near him on the ground and by a concession stand.
“It was one of those surreal feelings because I knew what it was right away. We didn’t know where the bullets were coming from but we knew the direction. They were coming from the west,” said Dolby. “At that point, I had no idea where really to go because we just weren’t sure if this was a terrorist attack, if there were multiple shooters. It was just one of those helpless feelings.”
His group was on the east side of the fairgrounds. They took cover behind concession stands, porta potties, vehicles and wherever else they could hide as they tried to make their way out of the venue. Dolby said the gunfire continued for about five minutes with at least 30 rounds firing each time before the gunman took a break to reload.
“There were some reports that there was more shooters,” said Dolby. “So the police were on the bull horns saying ‘Run immediately. Get to the east. Keep going. Don’t stop.’”
Dolby recalls victims scattered all over. They were picked up, loaded into random vehicles and raced to a hospital. Dolby commends the first responders and the community for rallying together.
“It was awesome to watch the first responders and everybody helping each other, whether somebody was really hurt or just emotionally distressed, putting their arms around people trying to get them out of there,” said Dolby. “The police were freaking awesome. They had their cruisers and had everybody ducking behind them and kind of slowly driving them away from the danger.”
As Dolby choked up, he said everyone in his group escaped safely. He said the emotional pain is lingering.
“I feel a little more emotional today,” said Dolby. “Sunday night it was kind of shock and disbelief. The reality that’s kind of setting in is a lot of people lost their lives that we were within a few feet of.”
Dolby says he will go about his daily life in the same way he has.
“Physically, everybody is good. Maybe a little bit of an emotional healing time. It’s not going to stop us from doing the things that we always do,” said Dolby. “Las Vegas is the greatest city in the world. It’s not going to change what we’re doing but we will always remember what happened.”
Las Vegas Police said the gunman — identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock — shot and killed himself before a SWAT team could break into his hotel room near the concert.