Last October, 58 country music fans were killed and hundreds more were injured when a shooter in his Mandalay Bay hotel room opened fire on the crowd down below at the Route 91 Harvest festival while Jason Aldean played. On Wednesday, over 1,200 pages of documents were released with witness statements ranging from full transcribed interviews to short, handwritten notes. Names have been removed from the statements to maintain privacy for the victims.
While each person's terrifying experience varied in details, many agreed on a certain chain of events. They stated that the shooting began 4 to 5 songs into Aldean's set, and the loud popping sounds were very confusing to the crowd, especially considering the setting of the Las Vegas Strip.
"And everybody just kept yelling, like, 'Oh it's fireworks. Oh it's fireworks,'" a statement reads. Then, after a pause and restart in gunfire, several people began to grasp what was happening. "People started screaming and saying, 'Get down,' 'Get down,' 'Down now!'"
Some people stated that in the shock of the event, they didn't immediately register they had been shot. "I realized that I had some sort of pressure on my ribcage, uh, near my right breast. I reached down thinking somebody had spilt their drink on me or something -- not really putting two and two together until I realized that my hand was warm and red and that's when it kind of hit me that I was shot," one victim said.
The witness documents can be found through NPR. The first document starts with an interview with a person who was shot in the shoulder and was turned down by a limo driver to take them to the hospital. Thankfully, the limo driver then had a change of heart after the victim walked away.
Then, they were taken to the chaotic scene at Sunrise Hospital where they were briefly treated and told there were no broken bones nor bullet fragments in their body. "And they couldn't get the names of everybody just because there were so many people. So they just had a paper and they just wrote, like 'She had morphine.'" Later, the victim learned they had shrapnel and "fragmented bone everywhere" once they visited the hospital at a later date.
Each story has different details, but the themes of chaos, fear, and survival instincts are the same. There are also accounts of those who saw the 64-year-old male shooter in the days leading up to the tragedy, including a Mandalay Bay employee who cleaned his room while he sat and watched their every move around his five large pieces of luggage.