Numerous Santa Clarita Valley residents were in Las Vegas at the time of the shooting Sunday night. Here are their testimonies:
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity
Taylor Kellstrom, Stevenson Ranch resident:
About 11 p.m. Sunday night, I got a phone call from my mom. She’s yelling “Shooting! Shooting!”
I finally got her to calm down and she told me there was a shooting. I guess the lady standing near her got her face shot off. Lucky, it wasn’t her friend. My mom was telling me that it sounded like firecrackers, then saw the lady get shot and just took off running.
She said the police were so good at instructing people when to get down, when to run. She got separated from her friend. We saw on the news that there were active shooters, multiple ones. I guess because so many people were injured and stampeded on when they were running, that’s why they thought there were multiple shooters. My fiancee and I were about to head out to Las Vegas at 2 a,m. but we heard the hotels were locked down. My mom got to her hotel and then ended up getting on an earlier flight yesterday. We just spent the whole day with her. It didn’t really hit her until last night. She just thought that was going to be the last time she was going to see us.
I’m super proud she did not freeze. It’s frightening. The men would shield the women from the gunfire. There was some that were stampeding. There were people that got hit and were down and others would carry them and take care of them. She just said, “to see people to be there for one another, it was something we haven’t seen lately.” She’s a little shaken up. She just thought something went wrong with the pyrotechnics. One of her friends had her hand broken from being stepped on. You didn’t know where the bullets were coming from at first.
I have another friend who got hit. We heard she came out of surgery and then had to go into another one. She’s out of the ICU from what her friend posted on social media. She’s just going to have such a long road.
It’s sad that someone would be that insane. We’re very lucky that my mom is back in one piece. I just wanted to be with my mom. I ran out of the car in the middle of the airport and cried. I know others won’t be able to have that feeling of gratefulness.
Rachel Roach, Valencia resident (daughter of Jane Bettencourt-Soto’s friend, see below):
It was just after 10 p.m. and Jason Aldein had only been on for about 15 minutes or so. We heard what we thought were firecrackers going off about 25 feet from me. Dust was kicking up. I turned to my friends and said “If we were to ever be in a situation with gunshots, just get down.”
A couple seconds later, we heard more gunshots and hit the ground. Some people said it was rubber bullets. We heard the third round and everyone hit the ground. The man next to me was shot and he was bleeding out on me. We tried to apply pressure and help. We didn’t know where it was coming from. We were in the direct line, there was nothing protecting us from the shots. Lots of people were saying run and then get down. We started to be able to time it and we had enough time after each round that we got up and booked it to the sound stage area. My friends and myself were separated.
I jumped over a metal barricade and other people were jumping on me and we ended up in this huge dog pile of people. I saw this woman next to me and she was so pale. I could see the bullet in her cheek. I held her and applied pressure. I got off the phone with my mom so she could get ahold of her husband but we couldn’t get through. I was just trying to help get people out of the way. There were one or two more rounds that went out.
It was just a sea of lifeless bodies on the ground. People were doing CPR on everyone around them. People doing everything they could to transport people and used sound gear tops and wheelbarrows as stretchers. At this point there was no triage. It was just whoever had a truck and could get them to the nearest hospital.
We made it to the Hooters Hotel. We were in the lobby and people thought there were shots fired in the casino. I got a call from my friends who said they got let into their hotel room. One of my friends parents drove back out to get us. They picked us up a couple blocks off the strip.
I’m thankful, I’m just beat up and bruised and left with just a memory but thankful that my friends and I don’t have bullet holes in our bodies.
Natasha Bovee, Saugus resident: We were at the concert, right near the VIP section. Brian and I almost walked up farther and decided this spot fine. Everything is going fine and then, like fireworks to our right. Jason (Aldein) looked over, too, but then he continued. Then we heard more shots, and people were just diving off the stage. You could hear the bullets hitting the metal guardrails. People were just screaming. Every time he was shooting, we’d get down and lay on the ground. When he would reload, we’d take off.
My husband just said to keep going. We worked so well as a team. We finally worked our way around to an exit. We went toward the Tropicana (Hotel). Everyone was trying to go there. The door we were trying to go in, people just started screaming and saying there was another shooter inside. We found cover down some steps in a storage room with like Christmas trees, tables, chairs and old refrigerators. We moved everything in front of doors and said everyone be quiet. We all prayed together (there were several others in the room) and people in the hallways were just screaming and trying to get in our room. Everyone needed water.
We stayed there for quite a while. One woman in the group was talking to her husband. He was a sheriff. He was trying to get us to go out and go to higher ground. We decided as a group we were going to vote. My husband and I were just going to stay there but we didn’t know if we could keep the doors barricaded just ourselves.
In hindsight, I wish I would have stayed, but we decided to go with the majority of the group. We went up this escalator into a ballroom, and everyone was passing out water from the Starbucks booth, and there was a restroom. There were at least 100 people. There were more reports of shooters. Everyone was in such sheer panic and just took off again. We ended up in a conference room. It wasn’t huge but it was big. We were in there with about 25-30 people. Everyone got to work. Flipped the room and locked the room down. Took the tablecloths off and tied the doors together so that nobody could get into us. We barricaded the doors with tables. We were like sitting ducks in a fishbowl. We shut the lights off and the phone wouldn’t work, and we just sat in the dark. You could hear people trying to get in. We opened the doors once for two girls. We didn’t open it again.
There was lots of screaming in the hallways and terrified people. We all sat in the dark for the longest time. We were all quiet. It just didn’t seem like our world. There were about 30-something people in the room. We didn’t know if it was safe to leave. Eventually, everyone left but six of us. We saw the press conference. They said to stay where you are, don’t go anywhere.
My husband called 911 and asked if we’re safe or not. They said you may travel to some place but couldn’t give us directions. We decided as a group that we were going to travel and try to find a safe place.
(Husband) Brian had a pole from a bistro table as a weapon. We walked through all those empty conference rooms. Every room was trying to survive the best they could. We decided to go down, four flights of stairs, but every door was locked. There were only two doors open. We walked into this corridor. (Law enforcement) patted us down and made sure we had no weapons, and they let us in this area where they gave everyone a towel or a sheet or something.
We didn’t see anyone actually get shot, but people were telling us. Some people had blood on them or had minor injuries. There was an armed SWAT guy who must have been put in charge of different corridors. Everyone was piled everywhere. At least 1,000 people. The Tropicana staff tried so hard. They started helping all of us. People were sharing information and helping each other. There was nothing but goodness.
Police came in around 3 in the morning and made announcements. Police were telling people they could go. There was nothing and nobody on the strip. When we got out, we walked down to the Flamingo. We met up with our friends and my son. Triage tarps, SWAT and FBI were everywhere. The Tropicana was very generous. It looked like war zone in there. We got to our friends round 5 a.m. We were very blessed. We prayed out loud for the safety of the officers and for those that were lying injured somewhere. I don’t know how we all got out with no injuries.
Jane Bettencourt-Soto, former Saugus resident, now Las Vegas resident: My friend called me because her daughter was there (at the concert). Her daughter called and said, “There’s dead people all around me.” The 20-something-year-old from Valencia was holding a woman who was bleeding, and all night I was getting updates from my friend. I turned on the police scanner and it sounded like a movie. I heard them breach the shooter’s hotel room. I heard them say we’re on the 32 floor, room 135, and we’re going to breach it.
(My friend’s daughter) ran from the venue and made it to the Hooters Casino Hotel. She and her friends were just in this random hotel room with 10 people they didn’t know on lockdown until 4:30 this morning.
I had a niece and nephew there, and they were at the bar at the venue. The shots rang out, and people got shot right next to them. The bottles at the bar were breaking. They ran two miles to get back to their hotel.
Everyone is safe, just mentally scarred. I served at the Child & Family Center for mental health services and have been to active shooter training. They were sitting ducks. It’s just awful.
Marissa Carey, Santa Clarita Resident: “Jason Aldean was about five songs in, my dad was in the back lawn area and my mom and I were up towards the front. About a minute before shooting started, we were starting to make our way back towards my dad. Then the gunshots went off and it sounded like firecrackers at first. No one knew what it was. Then the music stopped and everyone was shouting get down. My mom and I hid in a beer stand and got separated trying to run for the exit.”
Adrienne David (daughter’s boyfriend is a victim), Santa Clarita Resident (Social Media Message): “My daughter Brooke is OK, her boyfriend Steven is in stable condition in the hospital. I ask now that you pray for my little girl and Steven and their friends for everything that they saw and went through last night. They will need the strength of friends and family to get through the days ahead. Brooke’s friend was shot in the head right next to her. She said that they crawled over bodies trying to get away. Such a horrible act. As I sit here thankful that she and Steven are OK I mourn for the families that have their loved ones that are not OK…and I pray for them…”
Mayra Vera, Newhall resident: “It was our last day attending the three-day festival of Route 91 in Las Vegas. My friends and I attended the event all day Friday and Saturday, but Sunday, we decided we wanted to lay out by the pool and just attend the last performance, which was Jason Aldean.
We arrived at the festival at about 9:15 p.m. and everything seemed like it did the last two days prior to Sunday night. The crowd was pumped, and ready to enjoy the last performance of the night. Jason Aldean began his performance at about 9:45 p.m. and the crowd went wild! It was my first time ever visiting Las Vegas, and my first time ever at Route 91.
After Jason Aldean was finishing his third song performance of the night, I remember hearing what sounded like firecrackers. I believe the time was about 10:08 pm, and when the crowd heard the sounds of what we assumed were firecrackers, we all looked up to see what it was.
Seconds later, I saw people ducking to the ground, while the rest of us ran for dear life. I attended the festival with three other friends, but because the crowd was chaotic and everyone was running around frantically, unfortunately we were separated from each other. I ran off into a different direction with one of my friends.
After we found a trash bin to barricade ourselves, we spotted a young man who was a security guard for the event, wounded; it appeared that he had been shot in the hand. My heart was pounding so hard, I thought it was about to jump out.
Once I started noticing more people were hurt, that’s when I immediately called my mother, told her that I loved her, and that I needed her to pray.
My friend and I noticed a flash of light coming from one of the windows of the Mandalay Bay, and luckily a young gentleman ran to us, and told us to follow him to a safer location.
Thankfully, my group of friends and I eventually found each other at around 4 a.m., and we were all safe. For a minute, I pinched myself hoping that it was all just a nightmare. But it wasn’t. This traumatizing experience has taught me one thing, and that is to always tell your friends and family how much you love them before it is too late. A weekend of laughter, memories, and singing our hearts out to country music turned into our worst nightmare.
Erin Acquaviva, SCVi teacher, Castaic resident: We were with a group, and my husband and I and we were in the VIP tent, closest to the street across from Mandalay Bay. I saw out of the corner of my eye some commotion, and I heard a little popping. But I just thought it was fireworks and everyone was having a good time, so I wouldn’t let my head go to a place that thought it was bad.
But then the singer stopped and everyone got down and everyone knew it was serious. We didn’t know where it was coming from or if someone was going to walk into the concert and start shooting, but we knew it was shooting.
We walked on the edge where there weren’t as many people, and we’d hear shooting hide behind something. It would stop, so we would keep walking, and then it would start up again, and we would hide.
We slowly made our way out, and then eventually made it to the MGM, which was our hotel. We didn’t know if there were other shooters, because there were rumors of other gunmen, and we didn’t know if we should go into our hotel or not. We honestly had no idea what to do.
One of my girlfriends that we met up with eventually was actually in that grass area, the main area, where most of the shooting happened, but she made it out because someone jumped on top of her to protect her.
When she wanted to leave, she had to get out from underneath him, and she didn’t know if he was injured or not. So when we eventually met up with our group, we went to the same hotel room. And we just felt like we needed to stay inside. But when we were told the roads were open we were on the road by 5 a.m.
The following testimonies were gathered by KHTS AM-1220:
Margaret Delgado, Canyon Country resident: We were at the Excalibur, enjoying dinner, and all of a sudden people started running inside and yelling “shooter!” No one knew what was going on. The hotel went into lockdown. No one was allowed in or out. They closed the bars and restaurants and took everyone not staying at the hotel into a banquet room. We were given water and blankets and were not allowed to leave until security deemed it safe. We were finally able to leave at 5 a.m. We saw people with blood on their clothes. It was very frightening.
Ashley Johnson, Santa Clarita resident: Last night doesn’t feel real yet. Carrying people who were bleeding out to ambulances, using my clothes and taking my boyfriend’s clothes to use as tourniquets, running and finding hiding gunshot wound victims to get them to the ambulances, and watching people die in the streets before the ambulances got there is something you never ever think you’ll be a part of. I’m so thankful my sister, and our friends got out and were safe. Chris and I are safe and driving home today.
Mayra Vera, Newhall resident: It was our last day attending the 3-day festival of Route 91 in Las Vegas. My friends and I attended the event all day Friday and Saturday, but Sunday, we decided we wanted to lay out by the pool and just attend the last performance, which was Jason Aldean.
We arrived at the festival at about 9:15 p.m., and everything seemed like it did the last two days prior to Sunday night. The crowd was pumped and ready to enjoy the last performance of the night. Jason Aldean began his performance at about 9:45 p.m., and the crowd went wild. It was my first time ever visiting Las Vegas, and my first time ever at Route 91.
After Jason Aldean was finishing his third song performance of the night, I remember hearing what sounded like firecrackers. I believe the time was about 10:08 p.m., and when the crowd heard the sounds of what we assumed were firecrackers, we all looked up to see what it was. Seconds later, I saw people ducking to the ground, while the rest of us ran for dear life.
I attended the festival with three other friends, but because the crowd was chaotic and everyone was running around frantically, unfortunately we were separated from each other. I ran off into a different direction with one of my friends. After we found a trash bin to barricade ourselves, we spotted a young man who was a security guard for the event, wounded. It appeared that he had been shot on the hand. My heart was pounding so hard, I thought it was about to jump out. Once I started noticing more people were hurt, that’s when I immediately called my mother, told her that I loved her, and that I needed her to pray.
My friend and I noticed a flash of light coming from one of the windows of the Mandalay Bay, and luckily a young gentleman ran to us and told us to follow him to a safer location. Thankfully, my group of friends and I eventually found each other at around 4 a.m., and we were all safe. For a minute, I pinched myself, hoping that it was all just a nightmare. But it wasn’t. This traumatizing experience has taught me one thing, and that is to always tell your friends and family how much you love them before it is too late. A weekend of laughter, memories, and singing our hearts out to country music turned into our worst nightmare.