On Sunday evening in Las Vegas, a gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, spraying thousands of revelers gathered for the Route 91 Harvest Festival below with bullets. As of Monday evening, 58 are dead and over 520 are injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting on American soil. Below Brett Berman, a 28-year-old Los Angeles native and Co-Founder/COO of Hooked, gives his first-hand account from inside the horrific scene.
It was my birthday weekend. We had a big group of guys and we weren’t too far spread out amongst the festival, besides one of my friends who was on the other side of the stage, who actually used a TV with bullet holes all over it to hold over his head to shield him. He then found a truck and was able to hide under the truck, and was then able to get into an apartment with a separate group to hide in there.
We were to the side left of the stage and Jason Aldean was performing. All of a sudden you heard three pops – pop, pop, pop – and everyone thought they were fireworks instantly. Someone next to us even cheered thinking they were fireworks. Then, all of a sudden, you hear, again, a pop, pop, pop. Then, it sunk in. We all thought that the shooting was coming from within – that’s literally how loud it was – and, yet, it was 32 stories up in Mandalay Bay.
About 20 feet to behind us, there was a girl on the ground bleeding and her friend screaming. She had been shot in the head.
The first round went off and the second round started to go, and I would say we got out within a minute or two. At that point, whatever instinct kicked in, kicked in and some people started getting on the ground. There was no exit nearby, but two of us just sprinted out within maybe the first wave of 100 people running out. It’s horrific and so sad, but because we were so close to that girl who got shot, we knew something was going on and we had to get out of there.
We just kicked down the waist-high blockages, knocked down a fence, kicked down another fence and just sprinted off the strip behind MGM. Since we weren’t in a super crowded area – we weren’t trying to get as close to the stage as possible for the concert – it wasn’t as hard for us to escape the crowd when the bullets started flying. We saw a girl who was shot in the head and another guy who had been shot and was just face down, who was on the path to getting out.
We were all texting in a group to just meet in the suite, but everyone got split up. Some ended up in apartments and some were able to get back to the hotel right away. We heard about all these possible different shootings that had been going on, and as soon as we got back to MGM the entire casino just started sprinting everywhere. I thought to myself, “Oh God” and just hopped the check-in desk and went into the employee security room with like 500 others who had been in the lobby.
We were in there for about an hour while they cleared the lobby and the SWAT came through to make sure nothing was going on. Then, we were able to get back up to our room and we just sat there waiting for everyone to check in. Two more guys came in about 45 minutes after me when I told them it was all clear because they were hiding in Topgolf in the MGM.
One of my friends hopped in a cab that was driving and didn’t know what had happened yet. He waved the cab down and when the cab said he was headed to Mandalay my friend was like, “No you’re not,” and just told him not to go there. The cab took him over to Caesars Palace, where we had another room and a couple of the other guys were. It was just nuts.
The first responders did a great job, but the problem was that no one knew where the shooting was coming from. The police and higher-ups found out as quickly as they could that it was in Mandalay Bay, but they also didn’t know if there was one or two [shooters]. People didn’t know what was going on, so they just laid down because they saw other people laying down, but that was because they didn’t know that this guy was actually shooting down from the 32nd floor overlooking the festival. Them standing or laying down, sadly, didn’t make a difference at that point.
I know my friends are all okay, but I haven’t seen a couple of them since it all happened because they got back to the other room and went to sleep. Since it happened, we haven’t left the hotel. It’s just too much to go over there. We saw photos of blood all over the field, and we just watched a couple of videos and the pocket where we were standing is right where some of the videos were filmed.
We’re lucky and counting our blessings.
How to Help and Learn About Loved Ones
Friends and family are asked to report missing people believed to be connected to the shooting using the hotline 866-535-5654.
Anyone with photo or video evidence of the shooting is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.
The city of Las Vegas has established a Family Reunification Center to help connect relatives with the more than 500 people who were injured.
In addition, city officials urged those locally who wish to donate blood to visit one of two donation centers operated by United Blood Services, either at 6930 W. Charleston in Las Vegas or at 601 Whitney Ranch Drive in Henderson, Nevada.
A victims’ fund has been started on GoFundMe by Steve Sisolak the Clark County, Nevada, commission chair. Other groups providing relief include the local chapter of the American Red Cross and the National Compassion Fund.