A couple from Lindsay, Ont. say they’re counting their blessings after escaping the chaos of the Las Vegas shooting Sunday night.
“It’s crazy talking about it now — it sounds like something out of a movie,” said Brandon Vanderloo as he and his wife Melissa arrived at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Monday night.
The couple was among the thousands in attendance at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on the Las Vegas Strip. They were watching Jason Aldean perform when Melissa said she heard what sounded like gunshots.
“There was a bit of smoke and I look and someone was smoking — you see some flashes and think something is going on — we’re in Vegas,” said Brandon. “It didn’t sound like gunshots.”
“It just kept going — the guns kept going and he kept playing,” said Melissa.
“Everyone thought it was fireworks or something wrong with the speakers. Jason didn’t even realize it.”
Brandon said reality struck when one of the viewing screens got hit and Aldean suddenly ran off stage as screams echoed throughout the crowd. The couple first found shelter near concession stands as bullets rained down from 32nd floor room in the Mandalay Bay hotel.
“You could hear (the gunshots) go in volleys so every time there was a break we ran towards somewhere else,” said Brandon. “We ended up in a restaurant at first trying to get as much steel around us.”
They eventually reached some bleachers and got on the ground with several other people including young girls.
“I was laying on Melissa and a couple of other people, ” said Brandon.
“It’s fright, pure fright,” said Melissa. “I’ve never been through anything like that before.”
The couple said first responders quickly came on scene to check on people. Thoughts of their two children, ages 4 and 6, raced through their heads as they peeked around the bleachers.
“If we make a bad decision, our kids don’t have parents anymore,” said Brandon.
Eventually, they ran 2.5 kilometres back to their hotel and discovered just how fortunate they were. Fifty-nine people were killed (including four Canadians) and more than 500 hundred injured. And Brandon believes it could have easily been them since the regular concert-goers usually push for a spot closer to the stage
But Brandon didn’t want to on the final night of the three-day festival. Their trip was celebrating his 30th birthday and the couple’s fifth wedding anniversary.
“I said I was kind of peopled-out and didn’t want to be in the middle of that right now. Where we stand and usually go is where everything happened,” said Brandon.