22,000 people were at the concert in Las Vegas, including an Erie resident, Ruth Thompson, ANNA Shelter’s Founder.
“I heard the three gunshots right away… I knew it wasn’t fireworks… I knew right away it was gunshots,” says Erie Native Ruth Thompson.
Every year, she attends the ‘Route 91 Harvest Festival’. She never imagined she’d be running for her life in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
“And then, all of the sudden, the machine gun part started and you just heard it, like going really fast and then people started falling down and the bullets were hitting the suite that we were in.”
Ruth, her boyfriend; Craig, and a handful of others were stuck in a third level, exposed suite at the concert venue. “We all laid down on the ground and just laid on the floor and just waited for what seemed like forever… I think it was 20 minutes…. and it just wouldn’t stop.”
She says everyone in the group believed there were multiple shooters, simultaneously attacking. “We saw people being shot way in the back and then there were people being shot way in the front. It’s gotta be more than … you know how can the same person be shooting all these people and then the guns were different and sounded different.”
Ruth tearfully admits that she saw people get shot right in front of her. “I just kept telling Craig, ‘we have to get out of here, like we have to get out of here.'”
Ruth and her boyfriend made the decision to leave the exposed suite and start running for safety. “As we were running the first time, you could still hear the gunshots right behind us and I really thought… if there’s mass shooters… I’m probably going to die.”
She says leaving the suite, they were met with chaos. Swarms of concert-goers looking for safety, with the sounds of hundreds of bullets spraying from machine guns in the background. “…we couldn’t go anywhere, there was so many people, and then all of a sudden, everybody would start running and screaming that he was coming, that he was chasing us, and so everybody would start running again.”
Ruth and Craig found themselves running down a highway towards safety. They ended up staying the night at a hotel about 10 miles off the strip. She says watching the news reports, the whole situation feels surreal. “I knew it was somebody that wanted to hurt people, and you know, was obviously succeeding.”
She says she still doesn’t feel safe and just wants to come home to Erie.