Muzzle Flashes, Yelling, And Running: Witnesses Recall Chaos During Las Vegas Shooting

LAS VEGAS (CBSNewYork/AP) — Witnesses described a chaotic scene when a gunman opened fire on a concert in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

The death toll in the shooting had climbed to 58 people as of late Monday afternoon. Police said at least 515 others were taken to area hospitals following the attack, which happened as more 22,000 concert goers were attending the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the Strip.

It was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

“People all over, on the grassy area in front of the stage,” one witness said. “Some were falling, some were screaming and yelling and running.”

Web Extra: Las Vegas Shooting Latest | NYPD Steps Up Security | Gallery

“Everyone was literally laying on top of each other, trying to get out the way,” another witness said.

“You could hear the bullets getting closer and then it would get quiet and they’d reload,” said another. “And they’d start again and the girl standing right behind me, about two feet, she got shot in the stomach.”

Country music star Jason Aldean was performing Sunday night when the gunman opened fire from inside the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino across the street.

The gunman was identified as Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada. He had checked into the hotel room on Thursday, authorities said.

Aldean was in the middle of a song when the shots came rapidly: pop-pop-pop-pop. Video showed Aldean stopping and the crowd getting quiet as if it were unsure of what had happened.

The gunman paused and then fired another volley, the muzzle flashes visible from the casino, as victims fell to the ground while others fled in panic. Some hid behind concession stands, while others crawled under parked cars.

Kodiak Yazzie, 36, said the music stopped temporarily when the first shots began and then started up again before the second round of pops sent the performers ducking for cover and fleeing the stage.

“It was the craziest stuff I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” Yazzie said. “You could hear that the noise was coming from west of us, from Mandalay Bay. You could see a flash, flash, flash, flash.”

Monique Dumas, of British Columbia, Canada, said she was at the concert, six rows from the stage, when she thought she heard a bottle breaking, then a burst of pops that sounded liked fireworks.

Couples held hands as they ran through the dirt lot. Faces were etched with shock and confusion, and people wept and screamed. Some were bloodied, and some were carried out by fellow concertgoers. Dozens of ambulances took away the wounded, while some people loaded victims into their cars and drove them to the hospital.

Police shut down busy Las Vegas Boulevard, and federal and state authorities converged on the scene. Interstate 15 was briefly closed, and flights at McCarran International Airport were suspended.

Hospital emergency rooms were jammed with victims.

The dead included at least three off-duty police officers from various departments who were attending the concert, authorities said. Two on-duty officers were wounded, one critically, police said.

President Donald Trump tweeted: “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!”

Before Sunday, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history took place in June 2016, when a gunman who professed support for Muslim extremist groups opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people.

Sunday’s shooting came more than four months after a suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, that killed 22 people. Almost 90 people were killed by gunmen inspired by Islamic State at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris during a performance by Eagles of Death Metal in 2015.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

More From CBS New York

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS
Get Our Morning Briefs
Bloomberg WCBS Tri-State Business Index

Watch & Listen LIVE