SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A couple from Springfield, Missouri are anxious to get home, after surviving the worst mass shooting in U.S. history late Sunday night in Las Vegas.
At least 58 people are confirmed dead with more than 400 injured.
Steven and Julie McGuire were attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival when a gunman opened fire into the crowd from a room on the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.
The couple were with Julie’s sister, Jackie Kessler, as country singer Jason Aldean began the final concert in the 3-day event. “He was 3 or 4 songs in, when we heard popping,” Julie told KOLR10 News. “We thought it was fireworks, then it started again. Then it started again, more consistent. We heard the bullets flying past us and hitting the metal.”
Julie says the three were seated in the VIP section to the left of the main stage, not on the ground where many of the victims were hit. “We crawled in bleachers and to the ground, then ran to the exit toward the hotel.” She says they knew the shots were coming from the hotel. “From right behind us,” she said.
KOLR10’s Joe Murano talked with Steven McGuire. “We were heard some pops, off to like the southwest of us,” Steven says. “We were sitting in kind of a grandstand area with theater-type seating. It was a VIP area. And Mandalay Bay Hotel was over my right shoulder. It sounded like the sounds were coming from that end of the bleachers down where the bathroom area was. Sounded like someone tossed some fireworks or something.”
“Jason Aldean finished that song and then a short pause, and then start into maybe a 4th or 5th song of his set, then once again we started hearing pops from that direction. This time in more rapid succession and then everybody really kinda got scared when the show went black.”
“What did you and your wife do – how were you able to seek shelter?” Murano asked.
“We just kind of hunkered in place down in the floor. There were folding stadium-style seats. And we just kind of hunkered down and huddled up close to the back of the seat backs in the floor in the grandstands. We still couldn’t tell for sure what was going on. At this point, we still thought it was likely a prank like fireworks or someone with a bull horn. Because no one immediately around us was injured.”
“Then there were more pops. At this point, you know, a fully automatic sound of a rifle like what you’d see in a war movie. Pop, pop, pop, pop, faster than that. I looked at my wife and my sister-in-law and I said, ‘we need to get out of here.'”
The McGuires say they stayed low, army crawled down from the grandstand to the ground, then ran diagonally toward the Tropicana Hotel. “The plan was to get to our rooms and shelter in our rooms,” Steve said. “A lot of people in the lobby were trying to get us to go in the conference room. We weren’t having that. We were going to go back to our rooms and isolate ourselves.”
The McGuires say they later learned it was a single gunman and that person was dead, which eased their fears about multiple gunmen. They will be flying back to Springfield later today.
Here is a map of the concert layout. The McGuires were sitting sitting to the left of the main stage in the Neon VIP Lounge.