At first, Tami Johnson noticed the police cars and ambulances blocking access to the Las Vegas hotel where she’d been staying.
Then, when she got out of her Uber and started walking, the Kelowna resident started to hear the loud cracking of gunfire and the screams of panicked men and women, stampeding away from danger.
“The shots went on for five minutes … we just ran for safety and ended up hiding out in a ditch behind a gas station,” said Johnson, who hunkered down for four hours alongside her 13 year old daughter.
“Police kept telling us to get down and stay down … and there were people yelling and screaming. You couldn’t be anywhere near the strip and not see it.”
When gunfire ended, the chaos continued.
The parking lot of the Hooters hotel where she is staying is just a stone’s throw from where the country music concert, Route 91 Harvest took place. It was roped off for the investigation and Johnson and its other guests weren’t allowed into the hotel until 7 a.m. Monday. Once it opened its doors, it was far from being a homecoming.
“There are a lot of people who were killed that were staying in our hotel,” she said.
Victim’s services has set up in the hotel to offer support to those who are stuffering with the emotional fallout of the violence.
Those who witnessed unthinkable violence are making use of the service while others, who have who were simply displaced from the Mandalay hotel are finding refuge in the hotel’s public amenities.
“As soon as the hotels opened people flooded the casinos, cozied up under a slot machine and waited for the OK to go back to their hotels,” she said. “People camped out in the casino, sleeping on BlackJack tables and stuff.”
The atmosphere is heavy and getting their bearings is a struggle, though Johnson said she knows she’s lucky to have survived when so many didn’t. The lone shooter killed at least 58 people and injured more than 500.
“We’re in shock right now,” said Johnson.
“A lady we hung out with at the pool was one of the victims. She was killed. We spent four hours with her last night, and I even bought her a jello shot, and we talked about politics, Trump and guns …an hour ago I went downstairs and the group she was with said she had passed away.”
Pray for Vegas.
Posted by Tami Johnson on Sunday, October 1, 2017
Johnson said that the counsellor at her daughter’s school has already reached out to help in the days ahead. Otherwise, they’re still in the middle of the unfolding tragedy, and getting perspective will likely be impossible until they’re safe at home.