Students started their week coping with news of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
As of presstime, nearly 60 people were killed and more than 500 injured after a gunman inflicted a sniper-type attack on an outdoor concert festival near his 32nd-floor hotel room in Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas. The first reports of the shooting were received about 10 p.m. Sunday.
The shooter, Stephen Craig Paddock, killed himself. Police found him just before midnight.
Students from Las Vegas said Monday that they were shocked, angered and saddened by the news.
Some students reported having friends who were at the concert who assisted in evacuating people.
“You see crazy things happen in the news all the time, but, when it happens in your hometown, it frustrates you,” said Casey Andrews, music theater senior. “Las Vegas is a place people like to escape to, and it is my favorite place in the world. It is sad that this hate was brought to such a wonderful city.”
Dominique Kopecky, cell and molecular biology junior, said she was in disbelief.
“I was numb to the news,” she said. “I never would have thought that something like that would happen in a city I call ‘home.’ It is just so surreal.”
Jacob Noble, acting sophomore, is from Las Vegas. He found out about the shooting when he checked his phone at 1 a.m. He was flooded with texts asking him if his family and loved ones were safe.
“It was as if the world had stopped moving and I had fallen off the face of it,” he said.
Close to home
Many students have friends who were present at the time of the shooting.
Chazz Miceli, guitar performance junior, said his friend who was there carried more than seven people to ambulances, and, since he is an EMT, ended up driving one of them with passengers to the hospital.
Kopecky said she knew multiple people at the concert.
“My best friend’s mom ran to her car and had random girls getting in it just to get away from the situation,” she said. “My brother’s best friend was standing right next to a girl who was shot.”
Jessica Vanek, music theater freshman, said a few of her friends were directly affected.
“I was a performer back home, so a lot of my friends were on lockdown because they had shows in casinos and stuff,” she said. “I watched a Facebook Live video from one of my friends telling her story because she was at the concert when it happened. It’s weird because you hear about this all the time, but you never think it’s going to happen to you.”
Noble hadn’t heard back about the safety of some friends yet at presstime, but hoped for the best case scenario.
“My girlfriend was near the area before the shooting, but luckily she left before the shooter arrived. For that, I am very thankful,” he said. “There was also another fairly close friend of mine who was there, but I haven’t heard back from him yet.”
Kopecky said she is glad she was in Oklahoma because her family and friends automatically knew she was okay, but she wishes she could be home to hug her loved ones.
“I feel terrible for my friends who went through it,” she said. “Pray and send positive thoughts out to all of the people affected by this tragic accident. Sadly, there isn’t much else people outside the state can do.”
Noble suggested giving blood as a way to take action.
“Hospitals are running low, and it will help us save the ones who have been wounded,” he said.
Miceli said students should not let events like this make them complacent.
“I think that what we can do is to not let these situations scare us into not doing anything,” he said. “Travel more, see more, do more… live our lives without fear… support musicians, and don’t let them win by implanting fear permanently in your heart.”
Las Vegas Police said family and friends looking for loved ones can call 1-866-535-5654.