Survivors of the Las Vegas strip shooting spoke of “bullets flying everywhere” as the gunman unloaded “clip after clip after clip”.
They told of screaming country music festival-goers crawling for shelter, seeking whatever scrap of cover they could find as the bullets rained down on them.
With terrified civilians still hiding out in backstreets, the first of the wounded were driven away in whatever vehicles could be found, with one victim being given CPR in the back of a truck.
When the first shot was fired, said one festival-goer, it “sounded like a firecracker”.
“And then it ended up not sounding like a firecracker at all.”
Speaking five minutes after the shooting, the witness told KSNV-TV that the gunman fired “clip after clip after clip”.
“Bullets flying everywhere,” he said. “Everybody running. It was really bad.”
The bullets, he added, “were ricocheting everywhere ... They were firing from somewhere high, and they were unloading clip after clip after clip after clip.”
The sheer volume of fire was so great, it left the witness convinced – erroneously, it is now believed – that more than one gunman had been involved.
“It was hundreds of shots,” he stressed. “It wasn’t ‘sounded like’. It was hundreds of shots.”
“The shots just kept coming,” said Christine, a middle-aged woman, who had been attending the Route 91 Harvest festival with her husband.
She told CNN: “Everyone was literally lying on top of each other and trying to get out of the way.
“When we got down [from our seats], there was a man shot right there. He was all bloody and he was unconscious. We ran, and everybody is hiding everywhere. They were hiding under the bleachers [seats], and the stanchions, and anywhere they could.
“And everybody is telling us to run, ‘run as fast as you can’.”
Taylor Benge, a 21-year-old concert-goer, told reporters of seeing “bodies of people just lying in pools of blood”.
“About five feet to the left of me,” he said, “there was a man with a bullet wound to his chin.
“He was just lifeless on the ground.”
Amid what he described as a relentless onslaught of “200 to 300” shots, Mr Benge said he and his sister threw themselves to the ground, before eventually running for an exit.
They escaped unhurt, but covered in the blood of others who had been less lucky.
“My jeans are covered in someone’s blood,” said Mr Benge. “My T-shirt is covered in someone’s blood, my sister’s whole leg was covered in blood.”
Professional poker player Dan Bilzerian filmed himself running from the festival – and gave a graphic description of how he saw a young woman shot in the head in front of him.
With the sound of continuous shooting clearly audible behind him in the video, he said: “Holy f***, this girl just got shot in the f***ing head. This is so f***ing crazy.”
After escaping unharmed, Bilzerian filmed himself claiming he had armed himself with a gun and was now returning to the scene of the shooting.
“So I had to go grab a gun,” he said. “I am heading back. This is so f***ing crazy. Some kind of mass shooting, heavy calibre weapon for sure.
“Saw a girl f***ing get shot in the face right next to me, her brains f***ing hanging out.”
While some applauded him, one twitter user claimed: “People will do anything for likes and internet fame.”
From his vantage point of the nearby Delano Hotel’s 64th floor Skyfall bar, Jake Freedman could see “people getting massacred right in front of us”.
“We could see hundreds of people running out of the festival,” he said. “I asked my friend, ‘Are those bodies hitting the floor?’ Sure enough, there were bodies hitting the ground.
“We saw people getting shot. We saw everybody running out, and people getting gunned down. [We were] watching people run, and bodies hitting the floor as people were running.
“People were getting massacred right in front of us.”
When he glanced towards the concert stage, Mr Freedman was confronted by yet more horror.
“Right in front of the stage,” he told Sky News, “it was so well lit with the lights of a professional concert ... you could clearly see dozens and dozens of bodies on the ground. Just piled up on the ground.”
By now, said witnesses, there was “mass chaos”. No one knew whose advice to trust, or where to run.
“People were hysterical,” said one vendor who had a stall at the festival. “We didn’t know where to go, where to run.”
She told Fox News, the wounded were bundled into whatever vehicles could be found and driven to hospital. Festival-goers ran to assist. Some ended up covered in the blood of the victims they were trying to help.
“We saw a lot of injuries,” said the stall owner. “People helping other people, carrying people out who looked like they were … pretty bloody.
“The ambulances hadn’t arrived yet, so they were just putting people into vehicles, whatever vehicles.
“We saw one person get into a car. He had an IV [intravenous drip] going.
“Then a guy came up to us. He looked like he had been hurt pretty badly, but he said no, he had just dragged somebody out – but he was covered in blood.”
Eventually, she said, she was told to take shelter in the Tropicana hotel. But shortly after getting there, she saw “people screaming, running down the hall. Somebody [incorrectly] said a guy is on the roof. There were all these rumours.”
Another vendor, who abandoned her stall and spent 30 minutes hiding in a Budweiser truck said: “It was mass chaos. You couldn’t tell the difference between people who knew what was going on and people who were adding more to the confusion.
“We didn’t know what to do.”
Her voice cracking with emotion, she added: “We saw people that were hurt thrown inside trucks, SUVs.”
One festival-goer, himself shot three times, was part of a group who tried to get the wounded away in a truck.
“We had four people in the back of the truck,” he told ABC News. “We finally got to an ambulance and got two of the guys in. But one guy basically ended up dying in my arms, because he was bleeding [so much].”
As casualties mounted, the festival’s first aid station became “completely flooded” with wounded.
One first responder told Sky News: “The area for medics that was set up for the event was completely flooded with people – multiple people hit, a lot of people shot.
“I myself, with others, carried at least four or five people to the area.
“Two people, I know for sure, had been trampled [in the rush to escape]. One gentleman was hit in the top of the head, another gentleman shot in the leg. One lady shot in her side, another lady got a round to the side of the head.
“It was an ugly scene.”
Elsewhere, Jose Baggett, 31, a Las Vegas resident, said he and a friend were in the lobby of the Luxor hotel-casino – directly north of the festival – when people began running. He said people were crying and as he and his friend walked away, they encountered police checkpoints where officers were carrying shotguns and assault rifles.
“There were armoured personnel vehicles, Swat vehicles, ambulances, and at least a half-mile of police cars,” Mr Baggett said.
As more and more victims got to the city’s hospitals, emergency rooms became packed with the wounded.
After visiting one hospital, Congressman Ruben Kihuen, a Democrat whose congressional district includes a portion of Las Vegas, reported: “Literally, every single bed was being used, every single hallway was being used. Every single person there was trying to save a life.”
By evening UK time, the provisional casualty toll was at least 58 people killed and a further 515 injured, with the numbers expected to rise still higher. It had become the most deadly mass shooting in US history.
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