Music

Country Artists Share Firsthand Accounts of Las Vegas Shooting

David Becker

At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 were injured during a mass shooting at the Route 91 Festival in Las Vegas last night (Oct. 1). The gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel down onto the crowd of concertgoers while Jason Aldean performed the night’s headlining set.

The country star was in the middle of his performance when the shooting began. In an Instagram post, he shared the following message to fans:

“Tonight has been beyond horrific,” Aldean stated. “I still dont know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that Me and my Crew are safe. My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night.”

Route 91 is one of the largest country music festivals in the country, and some many of the genre’s biggest names performed at the three-day event. Chris Young was another of the first performers to share his account of what happened via his Twitter account.

In an early-morning interview with Bobby Bones, Jake Owen described the chaos of the moments when the gunfire first started.

“This sounded like a full-on, automatic rifle just unloading at that point,” he explained. “Jason was out on the catwalk, he just pulled his guitar up in the air and started running back towards the drum set to get off the stage, and that’s when you knew. People started fleeing. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

Owen also tweeted about the shooting as it was happening.

Josh Abbott Band were in the nearby Mandalay Bay Hotel when the shooting began.

Luke Combs was performing on a stage on the opposite end of the field where Aldean was performing. Combs thought the initial bursts of fire were pyrotechnics. He shared his account of the events with TODAY.

Thousands of concertgoers tweeted and recorded what happened at the festival and are sharing their stories this morning. Attendee Rachel De Kerf told CNN that the shooting lasted several minutes.

“The gunshots lasted for 10-15 minutes. It didn’t stop,” she said. “We just ran for our lives.”

Another witness, Meghan Kearney told MSNBC that the shooting first sounded like “firecrackers going off.”

“Then all of a sudden we heard what sounded like a machine gun,” she said. “People started screaming that they were hit… When we started running out, there were probably a couple hundred [people] on the ground.”

READ MORE: Country Stars React to Las Vegas Shooting

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Country Artists Share Firsthand Accounts of Las Vegas Shooting