LAS VEGAS — “Surreal,” and, “like something out of a movie."
That's how mid-valley residents in Las Vegas on business and pleasure trips described learning that a gunman killed 58 people and wounded more than 500 Sunday night at a Jason Aldean country music concert in an outdoor venue near the Mandalay Bay hotel.
Lebanon City Councilor Rebecca Grizzle, who works for Linn-Co Federal Credit Union, planned to attend a business conference on Oct. 2. Her niece, Jennifer Shelton, who lives in Alaska, is with her, but not on business.
They are staying in the Mandalay Bay hotel, around the corner from the alleged shooter’s suite.
“It’s really weird here right now,” Grizzle said on the day of the shooting. “The conference has been canceled, I can’t cancel my room, and we can’t change our flights. There has been a mass exodus out of here.”
Grizzle said she and her niece went out the night before and returned to their room about 9:40 p.m.
About 22,000 people were attending the nearby outdoor concert, clearly visible from the hotel. Alleged gunman Stephen Paddock, 64, opened fire into the crowd about 10 p.m. Paddock died of a self-inflicted gunshot, according to Las Vegas SWAT officers. Several rifles were found in the room.
“I was asleep in about 10 minutes, but Jennifer took a shower and heard what sounded like pop, pop, pop,” Grizzle said. “She thought it was a jackhammer or something like that. You just don’t know about something like this. We didn’t know about the shooting until we received a phone call about 5 a.m. from the hotel staff informing us to not leave our room. Later in the morning, we got another message that said all conferences had been canceled.”
Grizzle said she turned on the television and learned about the shooting, that it was over and the shooter was dead.
“It was kind of surreal,” Grizzle said. “When we were able to leave the hotel, we walked down Las Vegas Boulevard and it was eerie. It had been shut down, and there was no street traffic at all.”
Grizzle said the hotel provided free breakfasts to all guests, but she said it was a “very somber” experience.
“You could tell that folks had been up all night,” Grizzle said. “We didn’t know if someone sitting next to us had lost loved ones, or had someone in the hospital.”
Grizzle said she hadn’t spoken with anyone else who was to attend the conference, but said it was likely that one of the conference attendees might have been at the concert, since it was only a few hundred yards from the hotel.