Just 3 days ago on Sunday 1 October, the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history took place.
In Las Vegas, crowds full of the young and young-at-heart alike were enjoying the music at the Route 91 Harvest when a gunman opened fire.
The shooter – identified as 64-year-old Nevada resident Stephen Paddock – reportedly attacked the crowds from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, sending over 20,000 country music fans running desperately for their lives.
Over 50 people died in the shooting, which also left over 500 injured. Paddock was found dead in his room and it is believed he shot himself before police arrived on the scene.
Image: screengrab-TIME, David Becker/ Getty Images
Tales of horror, sorrow and bravery
From amidst the horror, survivors of the shooting are starting to tell their tales. Some are of bravery, some of horror and others just make you want to weep and seriously question your faith in the human race.
Mike McGarry is a 53-year-old financial adviser from Philadelphia. He was at the concert when he heard hundreds of shots ring out.
McGarry says, “It was crazy – I laid on top of the kids. They’re 20. I’m 53. I lived a good life.” Testament to his protection of young lives, the back of his shirt was covered in footprints, as panicked crowds literally ran over him him in terror.
Image: screengrab-TIME, David Becker/ Getty Images
Corrine Lomas, a woman at the festival, bravely shielded her younger brother as the shots started ringing out.
“We were in the middle of the crowd closest to the stage … we heard a couple of pops, then it stopped. Then all of a sudden it started going again and people started dropping,” Lomas told the New York Times.
“Every time the crowd got up the shooting started again. I was laying on my brother shielding him. I’m 30, he’s 21. I love him to death; he has more life to live,” she added.
Meanwhile, Brian Claypool, who was sitting near the stage in a VIP section, ran into a little room off stage after the first round of shots.
“The hardest for me was, I saw six young women. They were maybe 20, 22. They were all crying on the ground. I was trying to be calm,” Claypool said.
As he tried to comfort the girls, he describes, “I said to myself, ‘These girls aren’t going to die. I’m not going to die,’” he said. “’I need to get home to see my daughter. This is not happening.'”
Micheal Gracia, 24, was shot in the head.
New dad Michael Gracia meanwhile, was shot in the head while at the concert. Thankfully, he is out of danger in a critical, but stable condition, say reports.
Heartbreakingly, others caught in the gunfire were not so lucky. We heard of another story where a dad found out while waiting to board a flight, that his son had died in the gunfire. And reports keep pouring in of mothers, sons, daughters and other loved ones who have lost their lives in this tragedy.
May they rest in peace.
What to do if you and your family are caught up in a shooting?
It’s scary but it’s becoming more and more of a reality now: these kinds of senseless attacks on innocent people are on the rise, around the world.
What should you do if this happens to you and your family? Please read this information very carefully.
1. Know your exits, be aware
Whenever you enter an area where you know there will be crowds, be aware of your surroundings, especially the nearest exit—at all times. Don’t be distracted by your phone. Be observant, and keep away from those who look suspicious.
2. Hide and keep quiet
If you’re trapped and can’t exit safely during a shooting, hide and be sure to keep quiet. Remember to keep your phone in silent mode or shut it off, so as not to draw the shooter’s attention in case it rings. If you are able to find a room to hide in, make sure it’s locked and barricaded. Shut off the lights and keep quiet until the shooting is over.
Remember: avoid hiding in bathrooms, as these are one of the first places a shooter will look for potential victims.
3. Know when to run or fight
Assess the situation; is your nearest exit in sight? Then, the best option is to run towards it as fast as you can. Do not look back, just run to the nearest exit without hesitation. If you are carrying heavy bags or packages, drop them, to allow yourself to run faster. Carry small children, using your body as a shield.
If an exit is nowhere in sight and the shooter is approaching you, use whatever you can to distract him. Do not try to take on an armed man or woman unless you are confident you are capable of doing so, or are armed yourself.
4. Help others when you can
Though it’s important to keep you and your family safe, there might be instances when you can help others. For example, if you see someone too stunned to move, help them snap out of it and drag them to the nearest exit. If you see someone wounded, bring them to a safe place before you perform first aid, but only if you have the means to, until help arrives.
5. Call authorities if you get the chance
Make sure your cellphones are charged at all times, and bring a spare power bank to use in case of an emergency. Only call when you’re certain you’re out of the shooter’s earshot. Remember: the first priority is to make sure you are safe, then call the emergency hotline of the country you are in (save this number on your phone before you head to the event).
We at theAsianparent are shocked and horrified at this senseless act of violence on innocent people.
So many lives lost, so many parents weep, and we grieve with them.
Sources: Channel NewsAsia, ABC News, BuzzFeed
Images: Screengrabs-TIME, David Becker/ Getty Images