Klamath Falls, Ore. – Local resident Gerrin DeGroot was vacationing at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas last weekend when fate had other plans. Sunday night, a shooter opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort onto the country music festival DeGroot was attending.
“The right side of the venue what would be closest to the Mandalay Bay. In the area that we were in [previous nights] is where people were being hit.” Says DeGroot.
“Our friends were there in that area waiting for us [Sunday night] and that’s where we set up camp the two previous nights, so we could not have been in a more dangerous place. That’s not where you want to be and we would have been right in harm’s way.” adds DeGroot.
KFN recently interviewed DeGroot on his experience in Las Vegas during the tragic events of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.
In this audio only interview, DeGroot explains how fate took him and his fiancé, Rebecca Cook, to dinner inside the Planet Hollywood Resort instead of the Country Music Festival.
DeGroot explains, “At dinner, we received a text from our friends in all caps, STAY AWAY. SHOOTER. STAY AWAY STAY AWAY.” DeGroot continues, “We really did not know what to make of it. But then, three to four minutes later, people start running into the restaurant because we were at a site fairly close to the venue.”
Within minutes, people were running into the restaurant panicked - confirming the text received from DeGroot’s friends. Not knowing where the shooter could have been, DeGroot and Cook took shelter in the restaurant with several others. Through their mobile devices, reports about multiple shooters, even a report of a potential bomb, were coming through. After 30 minutes, of trying to determine if things were safe or not; DeGroot and Cook attempted to catch an Uber to their hotel room. The pickup location was on the opposite side of the resort through a mall of shops, known as the Miracle Mile.
While crossing through the mall, a large bang occurred – possibly from something falling, then someone yelled “SHOOTER!” Instant panic ensued. People ran in all directions, not knowing where to go or what to do. DeGroot and Cook ran into a Guess clothing store where, the store clerk locked down the store.
After an hour and a half DeGroot and Cook were finally able to make an Uber ride to their hotel room off strip at the Rio. Admittedly, DeGroot was not able to sleep following the events they experienced.
“The big question I get is, would I go next year. I don’t think I would.” says DeGroot. “There is just too much risk, you know. I have my kids, my fiancé and I like to have a great time but now looking back at how easy it can happen again or at a different venue. Something like this might not be worth it. It’s unfortunate that something like this could change your ability to enjoy yourself anymore going forward. It’s definitely left a mark.” states DeGroot.
The rebuilding process for Las Vegas on the personal toll with the deaths and injury to so many will take years. However, if you wish to help, monetary donations can be made at a Go Fund Me page created by Clark County Commissioner, Steve Sisolak. [ https://www.gofundme.com/dr2ks2-las-vegas-victims-fund ].
The American Red Cross is accepting blood donations for the hundreds of victims in Las Vegas.