BigAZMarty’s late Septemeber – early October Las Vegas trip report
If you were affected by the events in Las Vegas earlier this month and feel a recount of the events is not a good idea, please do not continue reading or maybe skip to the last paragraph. Also, anyone with family or friends who were affected by the event, you have our deepest condolences.
It is 10:00 pm, Sunday, October 1, and I am in the Plant Hollywood Resort Vista Suite; my luck down and my wife is still playing downstairs as I turn on the local Fox news channel. Some local stories, weather, and then I start to hear it; a lot of sirens heading south on both the freeway and strip. I think to myself, that’s odd, but the news is still not reporting anything so I think it’s a bad accident or something. Then it starts, the Fox channel breaks in with “There is an active shooter at Mandalay Bay”. It’s short and cryptic and not a lot of info but they report that the Mandalay Bay is on lockdown. At this point I text my wife, unfortunately, her phone is on the charger about 10-feet from where I am watching and hearing the sirens and first responders heading south. Suddenly the strip seems to get quite. I’m watching the news trying to figure out if this is an isolated event at the Mandalay Bay when they start to run the first social media videos of the Route 91 attendees running for the exits. They have not shown the ground level videos yet… I’m watching all this and thinking to myself, “Wait, there is an active shooter at Mandalay Bay and the festival?” Then the ground-level videos with the audio start being published, I am getting ready to go downstairs and get my wife because that is automatic gunfire, not some random shooting. Fox reports that there are reports of a shooter at NYNY and all the nightclubs on the strip are on lockdown. At that point I am out the door, I get to the corner of the elevator bay and hear the ding of an elevator door; I pray it is my wife but am also thinking “what if its something else?” Lucky for the both of us, it was my wife. She has no idea what’s going on after getting a big hug from me; she said there was some country dressed people that came in quick and were saying “Just get to the room, get to the room!: We pray those people are okay.
I get her back into our room and we watch in absolute horror as the events unfold. She wants to check the windows, I tell her to stay back because we don’t know where the shooter was at the time, if there was more than one shooter, and we’re hearing sirens come back up the strip towards us. For a second I think of that lame helicopter with the machine guns on it has been stolen and it is coming up the strip (you won’t believe the crap your head comes up with during something like this). That and the fact that Cosmopolitan is right across the street and out windows are visible to the Cosmopolitan balconies. Once she gets back some to where she is no longer visible, we arrange the curtains to where we can see out but the Cosmopolitan doesn’t have a good look into our windows (I’m also thinking if there are police sharpshooters, please don’t shoot me). I also plan to move the loveseat to the door if anything comes from our hallway. We watch while Bellagio’s drive is evacuated and the fountains stopped, we hear Paris and Bally’s were on lockdown and we see that Beer Park is already empty. People who attempted to walk out of Paris near Hexx were turned around and told to go back inside. I think there are at least seven police cars in the Bellagio drive blocking access. None of the television news channels know that the shooter is already dead and that security guard Jesus Campos probably saved a ton of people by becoming a target himself and getting 200-rounds shot at him (and getting hit in the leg) while checking an open-door-alarm several doors down from the shooter’s room and then knocking on the shooter’s door. He is the one that relayed the information to the police as to what room the shooter was in.
Suddenly the strip is completely shut down; no cars, no nothing except for sirens. We can see cars backed up on Flamingo Road near the Rio. More ground level video from the festival is shown and it is horrible, stuff you don’t normally see on TV. The news anchors are being moved back from the Las Vegas sign to Sunset Blvd. Swat is moving in and by 11:30 pm they confirm after blowing the door that the shooter is down. No more discussion about a NYNY shooter or why Bally’s, Paris, and Bellagio were all locked down as well. They discover a vehicle that they think has explosives in it, they move the news anchors back even further. Metro buses are now bringing people down to Town and Country Center, people who were not able to be in their rooms or in a protected area. They are starting to interview people from the festival and begin covering the hospitals. This all goes on until 2:30 am, at which time they say they believe Las Vegas is safe but to remain in your room until told by security/police if you are in a locked down hotel. We watch until 3:00 am and fall asleep with the TV on. At 4:30 am our phones start to go off with people checking in on us. We aren’t going to sleep much more until we get home. We tell everyone we are safe and were not at the festival (although my wife was thinking about it until I said I can’t stand that long on my healing foot). The news the night before said 20-people dead and around 200-injured; that number just kept climbing. My wife and I saw some sort of robot checking the valet vehicles at Paris the following morning as well, I’d say Las Vegas law enforcement responded extremely well.
Then it started, the good news of the people of Las Vegas helping each other out. People were transporting victims and the injured to the hospitals, people they didn’t even know. Taxi drivers were cramming people into their cars to get them to the hospital. Monday morning, people that could donate blood started to show up at the United Blood Services. At one point there was a 5-hour wait in line; local businesses started to donate food and water, UNLV nursing students came in scrubs to help out the people in line so that they would be able to donate. The GoFundMe site for the victims that was created is well over $10-Million. Strip marquees start to show information up and down the strip (we see this on the news). MGM is asking for trauma counselors to go to Circus Circus to respond to the victims and families. Allegiant Air offers free flights for the victims’ families. They are already discussing memorial events on the news. CNN, FOX, and MSNBC are all into the theory of it by 1:00 pm. We decide to order some food, we continue to watch the news knowing that this will be our last full day in Las Vegas for a while due to work commitments. By 2:00 pm we ‘ve eaten and decide to walk the mall to clear our heads. It’s eerily quiet, hardly anyone out, it’s a quick walk through the mall. The casino is not as quite, people are playing slots, video poker, and the some of the tables are occupied. We sit at VP just to try it… and well, it just felt off. We go back to the room and continue to watch the news. There are no fountains at Bellagio. Strip shows have been canceled and discussions are about going dark like for Earth Day in remembrance of the victims. My wife and I decide to hit up Pin-Up Pizza for dinner and we eat while it’s starting to get dark. Time goes quickly. The strip lights of Paris, Bally’s, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, and Aria are dimmed (Planet Hollywood kept the lower towers lit and Paris kept the Balloon lit). We are wiped out and start to pack for out trip-back the next morning, all while watching the news for more details. We can’t believe the shooter is a rich white guy, and like everyone else, we cannot figure out a motive for this. We tried to go to bed by 10:00 pm but end up talking through the night with the news on.
The next morning we are heading out wondering if Las Vegas will be Las Vegas again when we see a very giddy young couple that had checked in and we’re going in early to the Resort Vista Suite next door to our room and knew. Las Vegas will be alright, people will always come to try their luck, and as Vital Vegas says some ASSHAT will never put out that light in the middle of the Nevada desert that calls to us. The town is still first-rate, the entertainment value top notch, and food places for every taste. If the Strip is too expensive, there is the locals market (Boyd, Stations, Strat, Lucky Dragon) and downtown (Fremont Street!) as well as the Boulder Strip. Remember the people of Las Vegas are relying on tourism to survive and they did nothing wrong, just like the victims, they got blindsided. Expect some more security measures to be implemented (Wynn has hand-held metal detectors already checking bags and I think I’ve heard The Mirage is actually checking cars). I’d be fine with that to prevent some nut job getting weapons into rooms. I’ve had to go through nuclear plant car security checks before and it includes dogs, heavily armed guards, trunk searches, and mirrors for under-the-vehicle checks… you tend to just live with it as part of the process. As long as we’re safe while we are having our adult-fun and entertainment, I’m all for it. Viva Las Vegas!
[Photo Cred. BigAZMarty, Tom Twedell, LasVegasJunkie]