Intrigue Athletics owner Ginger Raines and her husband, Brad, traveled to Las Vegas to celebrate her birthday, and although they did not attend Sunday night’s concert, they felt the impact and saw the chaos created by the shooting near where they stayed.
At least 59 people were killed and more than 520 others injured after a gunman opened fire Sunday night at a country music festival opposite the Mandalay Bay hotel and resort on the Las Vegas Strip, authorities said.
Police said the suspect, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, a resident of Mesquite, Nevada, was killed after a SWAT team burst into the hotel room from where he was firing at the crowd.
10:08 p.m.: Shooting starts
“We were in the lobby of the Planet Hollywood,” Raines said. “Brad and I were sitting at a card table, and a lady came up to our table and said there is an active shooter at the Mandalay Bay. We not quite sure we heard her just right, and seconds later, a mob of people came running into our lobby,” said Raines, who said she could hear the gunshots.
Raines said some people were injured, and most people believed there was a gunman, or multiple gunmen, chasing people on foot.
“I don’t know if it was the way the buildings are or just because of the way it’s a strip, but you couldn’t tell where the gunshots were coming from. It sounded like they were coming from everywhere. We could smell smoke. In a panic, we thought these people were running from a gunman or two on foot,” she said.
Raines said Planet Hollywood staff told people to take cover. She said Brad fully covered her on the floor.
“He just kept saying, ‘Stay down. Stay down. Pray.’ We thought the man was running through our lobby,” Raines said. “I remember looking up and seeing all the people laying on the ground terrified just like me. I was crying and just thinking about my kids.”
About 10:15-11:30 p.m.: Raines and others hide from possible gunmen
Raines said staff ushered everyone toward the basement a few moments after they took cover. She said a scream and plea from a woman caused everyone to reverse their paths, thinking the gunman was in the basement.
Raines said the couple took cover in a hallway with six other people for about an hour. She said the group received misinformation while they waited in the hallway.
About 11:30: The group joins others
“[A staff member] brought us up to this big hallway, and it was full of people just like us. There was every ethnicity you could imagine from every place. There were children and elderly up here – everyone in the same panic that Brad and I were in,” Raines said.
She said majority of people believed the incident was an organized terrorist attack that involved people going into hotels and killing people.
About 12:30: Raines notifies loved ones
Raines said the couple started to notify their loved ones in fear of them panicking when they woke up and saw the news since Las Vegas is two hours behind Tennessee. She said she was confident Brad’s mother would wake up and see the incident.
“I knew she would turn on a news channel and see this. I knew she would, so I sent messages to her, my sister, my best friend and some of my coworkers that said we were OK,” Raines said.
The couple also sent messages to their children, Aidan and Halle. On Twitter, Aidan called the message from his mother the “best text I’ve ever received.”
About 3 a.m.: Raines watches the situation for the first time
Raines said the couple made their way back to their room around 3 a.m. and watched television to get an update on the situation.
“It didn’t ease any worries or any fear of what people were doing,” said Raines, who said she was glad to know it wasn’t an organized group attack.
Monday: Thousands show compassion
“[Monday] was a beautiful day here. It was about 70 degrees, the sun was out and there was a stillness here that I’ve never seen in Vegas. It was very quiet, and everybody kind of just looked up at the sky and looking around,” said Raines, who said it was her fourth time to visit Las Vegas.
She said the couple decided to give blood and witnessed an outpouring of compassion from others.
“There were literally thousands of people there to give blood. Then, there were hundreds more people volunteering their time to hand out water or give sunscreen or umbrellas. There was music playing. There was so much compassion in these people here,” she said.
Aftermath and what sticks out
Raines said two things would always stick out to her when she thinks about the incident – her loved ones and the compassion of strangers.
“When you’re fearing for your life, which we were, it is a life-changing experience to think that you’re not going to live to see another day. With all the things that go through your mind about your babies and your loved ones, you just hope that what you’ve done up to that point that people know how you feel about them,” she said.
She described Paddock as a monster and said his actions don’t reflect the compassion she saw following the attack.
“Even though there was a monster here, there is a lot of love here. There is a lot of human kindness that I saw here – compassion for each other and a unified need for peace. I saw that in that hallway,” she said. “This man is a monster, and what he did was horrible. There will never be a good explanation for it, but there are also a lot of wonderful people here. He’s not the majority. He is a small piece compared to what I know everyone to be like.”