The Route 91 Harvest Festival, a three-day country music event near Las Vegas, was interrupted by a downpour of gunshots late Sunday night. Amidst the shooting, 58 people were killed and around 515 were injured, according to Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, making it one of the most deadly mass shootings in United States history.
“My son and I, Brett Bigham, were at Paris casino around 10:30 and all of the sudden alarms went off and someone over the loud speakers was yelling (for us) to go to (our) rooms immediately,” Rob Bigham ’84, said. Rob was in Las Vegas at the time of the shooting for a business meeting. “When we checked the news….(we) couldn’t believe it.”
The shooter, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, was shot in the hotel he was firing from, the Mandalay Bay Hotel, by SWAT team members shortly before midnight. The SWAT teams were sent in as soon as the first reports of the shooting came in at 10:08 p.m., according to Lombardo.
“Is this terrorism? Is it over? A billion things were going through my mind,” Rob said. “You really don’t know. It was a lone wolf type of thing, and that was almost calming, but it was chaos.”
The motivation for the shooting is still unclear, although Lombardo is attempting to rule out terrorism or terrorist-related factors.
“There’s motivating factors associated with terrorism other than a distraught person just intending to cause mass casualties,” Lombardo told CNN. “Before we label with that, it’ll be a matter of process. We have to establish what his motivation was first.”
According to Rob, the Vegas Strip was shut down for the remainder of the night, causing them to nearly miss their flight due to police presence and blockades.
“They shut down the Strip, nothing was going on,” Rob said. “Taxi cabs couldn’t come to the hotel and we thought we would miss our flight. It took 45 minutes for an Uber. Every intersection had police officers–they were everywhere, asking everyone what they were doing. Even in the morning, there was still uncertainty.”
According to the Harvest Festival’s website, the three-day concert series was completely sold out. The venue was able to host up to 40,000 people.
Jason Aldean, the performer at the time of the shooting, posted a statement on Instagram saying that no one from his crew or himself was injured.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight,” he wrote. “It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night.”