RICHMOND, Va. – Richmond City Councilman Andreas Addison (First District) was just blocks away in the casino of a hotel along the Las Vegas strip when he saw “hundreds” of people running for safety.
Addison is visiting the city on a four-day getaway trip with some guy friends, he said.
“We had just gotten done with dinner at the Venetian, headed back to the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino,” he said, when his phone buzzed with an alert of an active shooter.
The shooter Stephen Paddock was perched high above the strip, shooting from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay into a crowd of around 20,000 people.
This was occurring about a quarter-mile south of where Addison was located, and he could not hear the gunshots, but he could feel tension in the air.
“Within minutes there were people running and screaming,” Addison said. He took cover where he was in the casino, at ground level in the bustling City Center area of the strip. “Every chair was knocked over at some point, around me.”
He said that eventually people stopped moving, and security ran to the front to secure the doors and lockdown the casino.
“Then it was weird hearing the eerie silence,” he said. “Everything was kind of turned off.”
It was the veiled hush wrapped around a usually bustling city that gave Addison pause.
“Everything was quieted. You could hear people talking. In a city like this, you don’t hear silence often,” he said.
Addison and friends retreated to the 18th floor of their hotel room, hoping to find out more by looking outside.
“No one was walking around,” Addison said; the vibrant sidewalks stilled.
It was the response that still lingers in his mind; a wave of panicked people pushing past one another and sweeping up everything in their path.
“From what I saw [his location], there was truly no threat, but watching the response of everyone…people running in response to the news…just seeing the rollout of information…seeing the human response.”
He also thinks of the people he met from Minneapolis, earlier in the trip, who came to see the concert.
“This is hard,” he said. “Knowing there are people I talked to who could have possibly gone to the show, makes you appreciate what you have.”
Addison suggested “as with any tragedy, it is sometimes finding strength and peace in the situation that is out of your control; not worry what you can and can’t do but be there for each other.”
“Tell your family you love them, give someone hugs,” he continued. “People always need those moments and sometimes we take them for granted.“
Virginia nurse among shooting victims
Allison Crute and her boyfriend Andrew Kampe were visiting Las Vegas from Virginia Beach when they were injured during Sunday’s mass shooting, according to Crute’s parents.
Allison’s mother told News 3 her daughter was shot in the arm and will need two surgeries. Kampe was hit by shrapnel and will not need surgery, according to Crute’s mother.
“There are no minor injuries with long-range military rounds,” her father posted on Facebook. “Your prayers and support for them are appreciated. Look forward to them coming home soon!”
Kampe and Crute, a nurse who grew up in the Virginia Beach area, were in Las Vegas for the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
The shooter, identified as Stephen Paddock, turned the outdoor festival into a bloodbath, killing 58 people in what is now the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. At least 515 people were hurt in the gunfire and ensuing stampede at the Jason Aldean concert, police said.
A Richmond DJ was also in a hotel put on lockdown in Las Vegas
Eric Cunningham, owner of the local Debonaire Entertainment Inc., is in Las Vegas for the Wedding MBA Conference. Sunday was the first night of his trip.
The Chesterfield man said he was watching a live band at Harrah's Las Vegas Hotel and Casino on the strip when the attack began.
In a Skype call Monday morning, Cunningham said people didn't know what was going on when the shooting first happened.
"Everybody was scurrying," he said. "The hotel began to shut down stores and shops and bars. Without any warning they said they had to close. They did a lockdown of all resorts."
Cunningham said he was stuck in Harrah's for two hours. He had no idea what was going on until his wife called, and said there was an active shooter.
"They asked all guests in Harrah's to please go to your room," he said. "If you weren't a guest, they kind of put us upstairs in holding room where they have in-house concerts. There was no direction. Security was running around frantic. I heard one gentleman from Harrah's say, 'We're not prepared for this.'"
"That was unnerving,’” Cunningham added.
Cunningham eventually walked back to his hotel. Public transportation wasn't running and taxis weren't around.
"As I was walking the different resorts, you could see police in full combat gear with automatic weapons standing at entrance of every resort door," Cunningham said. "Cars were being stopped, searched with dogs."
"In my history of coming here for years, this was the first time that it looked like ghost town," he continued. "There was absolutely no one on the strip. Vegas is always alive, always vibrant. There's something going on 24/7. And just to see nothing was moving."
It was an unnerving and scary night, but Cunningham said he felt lucky.
"I cannot grasp that something like that could happen," he said. "Just makes you think that in this day in time you really have to be aware. I try to be aware. You can't take anything for granted."
Cunningham said other Richmond vendors are in Vegas for the same conference. He's been in touch with them and says they are safe.