LAS VEGAS -- A family from Adams is thankful to be alive after what was supposed to be a three-day weekend getaway to Las Vegas turned to horror as a gunman opened fire on a country music festival.
Jason Aldean was the last performer at the Route 91 Harvest Festival when the shots rang out.
In the crowd of more than 22,000, approximately 50 yards from the stage, Travis Buhr, his wife Kelly and his twin 14-year-old girls were among the confused spectators, unsure if the initial “bangs” from behind them were part of the show. Then Aldean fled the stage as more shots followed.
“A machine gun just went off and 20-25 rounds shot over us into the pits,” Travis Buhr recalled. “That’s when everybody just scrambled. I grabbed my wife and kids and took off running.”
The family was staying at the MGM Grand, roughly a mile north of Mandalay Bay where 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor.
The family fled to the north on foot to the Tropicana, which was between the concert area and their hotel.
There, they hid behind large rocks at a swimming pool until it was safe to move on.
“We were running towards our hotel and you just couldn’t get through,” Buhr recalled. “They were locking doors on hotels and everything just stopped. About halfway to our hotel, we took probably seven or eight people and climbed behind rocks. By then, the traffic was pretty much stopped. Taxis weren’t taking anybody. They told us to get to our rooms.”
Buhr said other people climbed trees, hid in cargo containers, anything possible to find cover.
He recalled the incident Monday morning from their hotel room, where he said they were up all night watching the news. They posted on Facebook that the family was unharmed and waited to call friends and family until around 5 a.m. Monday, since it would have been after midnight in Nebraska before they had the opportunity.
The family had planned to fly back to Nebraska Monday, but was debating renting a car and driving instead.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said. “We just want to get out of here.”
Buhr said nobody in their immediate area was hit during the shooting, which has been reported as the most deadly mass shooting in modern American history, with at least 59 dead and an estimated 527 injured.
“We didn’t see anybody injured and I’m glad we didn’t,” he said. “When we were cutting through the vendor area, there was a blood trail. I don’t know if someone got cut while running or what. People were knocking each other over, jumping fences. It was complete chaos.”
SWAT teams using explosives stormed the gunman's hotel room and found the “lone wolf” attacker had killed himself.
There was no immediate word on the gunman's motive for the bloodshed.
Police shut down busy Las Vegas Boulevard, and federal and state authorities converged on the scene. Interstate 15 was briefly closed and flights at McCarran International Airport were suspended.