LAS VEGAS (CBS SF & AP) — It was a warm Las Vegas night, Brett Eastwood was enjoying Jason Aldean as the country star began singing ‘Any Ol’ Barstool’ when the sound of fire crackers caught his attention.
Except it wasn’t fire crackers, it was gun fire.
“It was about the sixth song of Jason Aldean’s set,” he told KCBS Radio. “It sounded like fireworks.”
“I was at the front of the stage,” he told KCBS Radio. “People started hitting the floor… It was literally like something you saw in the movies. Hundreds of people were laying on the ground…Some bloody. Everybody was just running.”
Toni Kessler of the Brentwood talked to KPIX 5 as she waited for her flight home at McCarran Airport. She was in the middle of the chaos and barrage of gunfire.
“People were screaming, ‘I’ve been shot!’ People were being drug out. My girlfriends ended up in a vehicle that took them to the airport. She said she ran past a girl laying on the ground in a pile of her blood, all by her self,” said Kessler.
When the reality set in they wasn’t hearing fireworks, she and her friends ran for cover.
“It was just chaos. People were literally shot around me being drug out of the concert. We all got separated. We were climbing fences. Shoes, purses laying on the ground. People bloody. It was awful.”
Katie Toupal was in the VIP area when the shoots rang out.
“Five songs in and we heard a couple pops,” she said. “(We thought) it was just some guy throwing firecrackers off in the bathroom.”
She said that suddenly Aldean cut out and everything went black and people started running. She said the second that Aldean cut out, she knew that something terrible was happening.
“That’s when I was like this is really happening. It’s not just some story you see on the news every day, it’s actually happening right now. People were dodging, hiding under tables.”
“In the VIP section there are tables, but it was a tent, so … I don’t know how bullets didn’t go through that. We decided we had to keep running out toward the festival. One of my friends got split up from us, so we were trying to find her. She ran down the strip and went to a local gas station and we ran through the parking lot. Saw so many bodies laying there, hurt. A lot of people not having any help, either.”
Like Eastwood, Kodiak Yazzie was enjoying a night of country music when suddenly there was a “pop-pop-pop.”
A few moments later, the horror of a mass shooting that has killed at least 56 people and wounded at least 515 was unfolding all around.
“It was the craziest stuff I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” Yazzie said. “You could hear that the noise was coming from west of us, from Mandalay Bay. You could see a flash, flash, flash, flash.”
Nadine Reyes, a Santa Rosa realtor at the event, was with a friend and their daughters at the concert.
During Aldean’s set, Reyes heard popping sounds. Aldean continued to sing after the first round of pops, but then the lights went off and Aldean ran off the stage.
“It sounded like malfunctioning fireworks, like those popping things you throw on the ground,” Reyes told The San Francisco Chronicle in a phone interview Monday morning.
At the time of the shooting, Aldean was performing at the end of the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival in front of a crowd of more than 22,000.
Hours after the shooting, Aldean posted on Instagram that he and his crew were safe and that the shooting was “beyond horrific.”
“It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night,” the country star said.
Tyler Reeve says he was backstage when a volley of shots rang out. He and other singers took cover in a trailer while bullets struck tour buses, equipment cases and the stage.
“I mean we could hear all the cops yelling and giving directives where we thought the shooter was outside the trailer,” he said. “We were all just laying there and holding hands and hoping for the best and all these people that didn’t fare so well it’s just heartbreaking.”
Brett Kenyon was at work in the nearby Cosmopolitan hotel when it went into lockdown. He said he saw Special Weapons and Tactic (SWAT) team deployed at the scene of shooting and described people running and screaming in the hotel.
“I was at work and we heard that there was a lockdown in the hotel,” he said. “There were people that started screaming and running into the Cosmopolitan where I work and that’s when we closed the door to our restaurant and turned off the music.”
In Orlando, Eric Paddock, the brother of alleged shooter Stephen Craig Paddock, said the family was shocked to learn of his sibling’s involvement.
“We’re in — you think it is some kind of joke except it came in on all five of my phones in my house and the cells lit up at the same time,” he told CBS. “I would have thought it was one of my friends — joking. When you get a phone call saying that your brother just killed a bunch of people.”
To his knowledge, his brother has “no police record. He doesn’t even have parking tickets.”