"It Was Complete and Utter Mayhem... We Were Running For Our Lives"
L.A. native and country music fan Violet Kanian traveled to Las Vegas for the Route 91 Harvest Festival this weekend. She and her husband were standing in the third row for Jason Aldean's performance Sunday night — and on the right side of the stage, close enough to the Mandalay Bay hotel that Kanian says she could see gunshot flashes reflected off the hotel's gold windows.
Kanian, who left Vegas safely this morning, shared her story of surviving the mass shooting with Cosmopolitan.com.
We had waited for Jason Aldean all night. My husband and I got to our spots at about 4:30 p.m. so that we could get the best view — we wanted to be up close and personal with him! We were standing in the third row on the right side of the stage, which was closest to Mandalay Bay. We were having such a good time.
Around 10:30 p.m., midway through Jason's set, we heard something that sounded like firecrackers [coming from the direction of the Mandalay Bay]. Everyone turned towards the noise, and I saw a flash coming from one of the hotel windows. With each firecracker pop, I saw another flash from the window. But I couldn't process what was happening — you don't think about the unthinkable.
Aldean continued to play, but we could hear the firecracker sounds again and again. All of a sudden people started screaming,"She's shot! She's shot!!!"Once people heard that, we started to panic. Then Aldean paused and looked towards the hotel, and he mouthed what I think was"what the fuck?"And then he and his band dropped all of their equipment and ran off the stage as fast as they could. That's when we realized this was real.
[My husband and I] got down on the ground, covered our heads with our arms. All of us [in the crowd] were on top of each other, so everyone was covering each other with their bodies as well. And everyone around us tried to keep calm as much as they could — I was surprised at how much everyone tried to help each other. Some people tried getting up and making a run for it, but others were screaming and telling them to get back down. The people who tried to run were hit. It was the most horrific scene I have ever witnessed.
People tried getting up and making a run for it, but others were screaming and telling them to get back down. The people who tried to run were hit.
The gunshots were so loud, and there were so many each time — but between each round of bullets firing that we heard, there was a three- to five-second pause. We kept trying to get up during that time, but there were so many people on top of us. It was too hard to move. So we just held each other and prayed. I can't begin to explain the fear that comes over you when you are a sitting duck like that, praying the bullets miss you.
Once the people on top of us got away, we waited for the next pause [in the shooting] and went for the barricades separating the audience pit from the stage. I jumped over and ducked down and grabbed my husband's hand as he jumped over; he fell on his face because everyone was shoving and pushing, trying to get over themselves. Thankfully we just had scratches and bruises, and we headed under the stage [and then backstage] to hide.
Our only goal was to get as far away from Mandalay Bay as possible. We found a hard hat [under the stage] and I wore it as we ran. People were on the floor bleeding, but there were a lot of people around helping. Trucks were pulling up and taking as many injured people as possible. Random cars stopped and took people away [to the hospital]. And people were on their phones around us telling their loved ones what they just witnessed. The conversations we overheard as we were running were straight out of a horror movie.
Fifteen minutes of bullets. Fifteen minutes of pure and utter chaos. Fifteen minutes of thinking you were going to die.
We finally got far away enough that I could text my sister — she and her boyfriend were watching from the left side of the stage, but her boyfriend is a member of the LAPD so I was confident he would know what to do to protect her. She said they were under the stage too, and that they were safe and for us to just [get back to our hotel].
onOct 2, 2019 at 9:36am PDT
I kept it together until I knew we were safe, and I just completely broke down. We went to our room and tried to process everything:What just happened?! Who would do this?!Fifteen minutes of bullets. Fifteen minutes of pure and utter chaos. Fifteen minutes of thinking you were going to die. Finally my sister and her boyfriend got to the room also, and we were all together. We didn't sleep — every time I closed my eyes, I just heard gunshots in my head, and saw the people who'd been shot on the ground. We all wanted to leave Vegas immediately, but everything was shut down, so we waited until 6 a.m. and got out as quickly as we could.
What we thought would be one amazing weekend turned out to be the worst weekend of our lives. We won't ever get over this.
Video: complete and utter mayhem.
How to Dress to Flatter Your Body, According to Science
How to DogSit when You Have a Cat
How to Understand the Basic Operation of the Home Air Conditioning System
How to Write Words With a Calculator
5 wedding traditions it’s a-okay to skip
Nutrition Facts: the Best Way to Read the Label
How to Get Soft Skin With Strawberries
This Simple Trick Will Tell If You Can Pull Off Short Hair
2 in 10 Alzheimers Cases May Be Misdiagnosed
Fad Diets: A Look Back at Weight Loss Trends