Story is courtesy of Yucaipa-Calimesa News Mirro
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department confirmed 59 concertgoers died and 527 were injured in the largest mass shooting in American history on Sunday, Oct. 1 at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The suspect rapidly opened fire on a crowd of more than 22,000 concertgoers from his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino at approximately 10:08 p.m.
The shooter was a 64-year-old Nevada resident. A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police report said the suspect bought more than 30 weapons and had 23 firearms in his hotel room.
The victims were across the street attending the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival when hundreds of bullets struck the crowd. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department SWAT responded to the call, breached the hotel room, and found the suspect dead.
Kaila Morales, a recent CSUSB graduate and KFROG Radio employee, was in attendance with her close friend Cassidy Kitchen, when the shots were fired.
“As Jason Aldean started performing I stood and recorded a video,” she said. “My friend and I were in the middle toward the back and we decided to try to make our way into the crowd going closer to the stage to meet up with another friend. As we were already holding onto each other, making our way through the crowd, we heard what sounded like fireworks. I have seen Jason Aldean before and at every concert he has fireworks, so that was my initial thought.”
Morales and Kitchen stood there confused, noticing there was nothing in the sky and they continued to hear the shots go off.
“No, those are gun shots! Get down. Get down. They’re shooting,” said Kitchen.
Morales recalled that it all happened so quickly, but it felt like a long time because of the shots continuing to fire.
Morales and Kitchen, hand in hand, ran for their lives. Morales said she was angry and yelling, she couldn’t believe that was happening.
Both Morales and Kitchen called their family.
“I decided to call my mom because at this point we didn’t know if we’re going to make it out of there. It was then we realized that this bush we were hiding behind was giving us no protected shelter, so we had to go,” Morales said. “As I cried hysterically, we began to run again and passed a few parked cop cars and we ran straight inside the MGM Hotel and Casino. I thought I was going to have a panic attack and I was having trouble breathing, but my friend stayed by my side comforting me.”
About 20 minutes later, while in MGM’s lobby, there was word that the gunman was now inside MGM. Morales and Kitchen, along with others, were evacuated once again. They ran into the casino’s theater and hid in its basement, where they stayed for over two hours.
Morales said, “Luckily, all the friends we came with were okay and although we are all traumatized, we are all home and safe.”
A large portion of the crowd was from California and many attendees won tickets to the festival from local country radio stations.
“We gave away tickets to well over 100 listeners,” said KFROG Radio Programing Director and Yucaipa resident Scott Ward. “We were systematically calling them all one by one on Monday. When you win anything from us, we have your phone number and email addresses documented. There were around 20 names that we did not make contact with.”
“I’ve gone the past two years. This year I didn’t go, because we have such an amazing crew. We had our programming, promotions, sales staff, management and some folks from our off-air positions. All of our crew is accounted for and safe. Everyone wanted to get out as quick as they could,” continued Ward.
The victims were transported to area hospitals for treatment for their injuries sustained from the violent attack. Some of the concertgoers were employees and residents from the county of San Bernardino.
“I am saddened by the many lives lost,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon. “One of our department members was struck by the gunfire while attending the event. Our employee was taken to a local hospital for treatment of injuries sustained. More information will follow when it is available. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all victims and their families.”
“We continue to hope and pray that everyone is okay. Thousands of people from Southern California make it out to this event in Las Vegas every year. We talked with many listeners that were there, some who jumped into action and some who saw things they will never forget,” Ward said. “Right now our top priority is confirming the safety of our listeners, then figuring out what we can do to help those affected by this senseless act.”
There were 17 people from Southern California killed in the shooting. One of those 17 was Hannah Ahlers, 35, a Beaumont resident. She is survived by her husband Brian Ahlers and their three children. Dana Gardner, 52, was a Grand Terrace Resident and San Bernardino County employee. She is survived by three children, one of which was with her at the time of the shooting, Kayla Gardner, but she was not injured. Jordyn Rivera, 21, a fourth year student at CSUSB was also killed in the shooting. Rivera was a resident of Upland and is survived by her mother and father, Albert and Mary Rivera.
Following the shootings, Las Vegas area hospitals experienced a shortage of blood. LifeStream urged the public to give blood donations. As of Monday night, Oct. 2, LifeStream released a statement saying they were overwhelmed with the amount of support they received and that they obtained a more than adequate amount of blood.