News

Omagh girls escape Vegas shooting spree

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Four young women from the Omagh area are this week still coming to terms with their brush with death following Sunday night's shooting spree in Las Vegas.

The quartet were on holiday enjoying the current American Country Music entertainer of the year, Jason Aldean's performance at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a three-day country music event, when the madness began. That night's performance was the last of the festival.

The mother of one of the girls yesterday afternoon (Tuesday), spoke of the horror and near death experiences the girls endured throughout the ordeal.

"We been in contact with the girls over the past two days and all are well but still shaken. I don't think they'll be heading back to Vegas in a hurry," she said.

The mother outlined how the girls who did not wish to be named were watching the show when they heard the shooting. One thought it was fireworks but when she looked up there was nothing in the sky and it soon became obvious this was something out of the ordinary.

"The girls were staying in the Excalibur Hotel, beside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and opposite the Las Vegas Village and Festival Grounds where the concert was being held. When they realised it was gunfire the girls ran away from the shooting towards a wall for cover thinking they would be safe, but 22,000 other people had the same idea."

She explained two of the girls then went into the MGM hotel next door but the crowd followed them in screaming.

"They thought there was a gunman on the loose. They ran out to a high fence where they met one of the other girls and scaled it but one was still missing. They found themselves further along the strip and hailed a taxi to get them to their hotel but they soon discovered the road was closed.

They made to another hotel which was connected to theirs by a walkway and made their way into the foyer. The fourth girl who had been missing turned up but did not know how she managed to get there such was the panic. All four then went to their bedroom and watched everything from their bedroom window."

Online video of the attack showed the show being interrupted by the soud of gunfire. The music stopped, and as victims fell bleeding, concert-goers screamed, ducked for cover, or ran. Get down, one shouted. Stay down, screamed another.

At least 59 people were killed and 527 injured in what has been described as the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

Police named Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old from Mesquite, Nevada, as the gunman. They also found an arsenal of 42 firearms, explosives and thousands of ammunition rounds in both his Las Vegas hotel room and Mesquite home.

The mother added all girls were terrified having to deal with shock, rumours of more shooters, explosives and general panic.

 

"I was speaking to my daughter on the phone and I could hear people shouting and screaming in the background. She told me things were OK, but you could almost touch the panic over the phone. She hung up at one stage and it was the worst five minutes of my life. She rang back to assure me they were still all okay."

She said as parents they knew nothing of the event until she had rung the first time as they had been in bed sleeping.

"As you can imagine we sat watching the events unfold on CNN for the rest of the night and it was terrifying with a mixture of all sorts of rumours coming in and out of the news reports."

The girls' hotel was on partial lock down until Monday evening. They were on the plane this (Tuesday) evening and were due to arrive home today (Wednesday) for a much anticipated reunion.

"The girls are on their way back and we're all thankful but it was sheer terror and chaos, added to by all the conflicting reports. It wasn't a nice experience for the girls or their families. We're just happy all are safe," she said.

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