County great Jason Aldean was playing full out as he began to deliver his hit, When She Says Baby, to a crowd of 200,000. Almost as if imitating a snare drum in rapid fire, shots rang out. Rat a tat tat. Tat tat, tat tat.
The headliner and Academy of Country Music’s entertainer of the year was just starting the last song of the last set of the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival.
The so-called neon-sleepover–an event that took place on a 15-acre lot underneath the stars and in the shadow of the hulking Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas strip where, on the final evening, a killer lurked on a high floor–had been a highlight for country crooners and country fans alike.
That happy feeling suddenly turned into a nightmare as Aldean realized those percussive sounds he heard were not keeping his beat on purpose. They were the sounds of some kind of machine gun fire that was deadly and so he instinctively did what everyone there who could was doing: He retreated to seek refuge.
The next sounds coming from that temporary Sin City venue were screaming, yelling and more gunfire. Two more rapid fire rounds. Hundreds of bullets spraying everywhere and claiming lives by the second.
Jake Owen had been on stage to support his fellow artist after performing earlier in the evening and he talked to Nashville’s Bobby Bones about the horrific experience, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
“We put on a show so people can have fun and forget about some of the day-to-day life things..[we can not] be scared of these cowards that do this…[and] we will prevail. That’s what we do as Americans.”
On Monday, Jason Aldean posted on Instagram under an image of the Nevada city’s skyline with words that read “Pray for Las Vegas”. He spoke for all, noting “it hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone…”
— Evan Schreiber (@SchreiberEvan) October 2, 2017
Tonight has been beyond horrific. I still dont know what to say but wanted to let everyone know that Me and my Crew are safe. My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night. #heartbroken #stopthehate
This is a photo from just a short few hours ago. I wanted to post a photo of what this festival was supposed to be about and not give this horrible person the recognition he so desperately wanted. I am incredibly saddened by tonight's events and while I'm thankful that me and all of my band and crew are alive and unharmed, I can't help but hurt for all the people who weren't as fortunate and the pain their loved ones must feel. Keep Vegas, these fans, and all of the country music community in your thoughts and prayers, we could sure use it tonight. Thank you.