“It was a crazy night, one you’ll never forget,” Jennifer Morrison said when referring to the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas.
The Maple Valley resident and her husband, Mike, were there for the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival.
When day three — Oct. 1 — rolled around, Jennifer said they were given the option to upgrade their seats from the floor to rooftop seating on the House of Blues.
Jennifer and Mike decided to do that — the upgrade gave them table, seats, air conditioned bathrooms and their own bar.
“We could have been down there (if they hadn’t upgraded),” she said.
Her brother and his wife, John and Ashlei McCormick, were also attending the festival. When Jason Aldean was about to begin his set, Jennifer said John and Ashlei decided they were going to leave and go meet up with some friends. Jennifer and Mike stayed to finish the concert, despite having seen Jason Aldean a week ago.
About four songs into Aldean’s set Mike got up to go get a drink from the bar and that’s when the shots began.
The guy next to her turned and made a comment about fireworks but Jennifer knew all too well that those were not fireworks. She said she told that guy they had just see Aldean last week and he does not have fireworks in his show.
“Those are gunshots, I told him,” she said.
Jennifer got down and began to crawl to safety and ended up behind a bleacher area, she said. There was so much screaming and some people were still standing as if they weren’t sure what was going on.
Once the next round of firing started, she said Mike began yelling at others to get down.
They stayed hidden until another pause. That’s when they decided to get up and keep moving to safety.
The rooftop bar they were at had stairs that led down to an alley.
“We started running,” she said. “We weren’t sure which way or what direction, we were just running.”
They found themselves in an alley with semi-trucks that they were able to hide behind. She said they didn’t know it then but the semis they were hiding behind had bullet holes found in them.
The alley they were down was a dead end with gates and pad locks; they weren’t sure where to go.
Every time he reloaded, Jennifer said they kept moving.
They were on the phone with her brother. She said she kept telling him landmarks they were passing so he would have an idea of where they were.
Instead of meeting up with friends, her brother and his wife ended up going back to the room. They were inside their hotel room in the Mandalay Bay when the shooting began.
“We didn’t know what would happen to us,” she said. “The shooting felt so close to us.”
While they were trying to get as far away from the festival and the shooting as possible, Jennifer said they tried to help others along the way.
“We have three girls who are 24, 22 and 18 and we wouldn’t want them to be alone,” she said. That’s why she said they looked to help anyone who seemed to be alone or lost.
“I would want someone to help our girls,” she said.
They came across a couple young girls who kept saying they couldn’t go on. However Jennifer kept encouraging them by saying, “I’m older than you, you can run, you gotta keep going.”
As they made their way down another alley where another truck was, but it was another dead end. This time, she said, the truck pulled the gate down and they were able to get through.
Once on the other side, Jennifer said they realized they were on the grounds of the McCarran International Airport.
They made their way to a hanger where other people were trying to pry the door open. While they managed to successfully open the door, they also set off an alarm. People were running across the tarmac, she said.
Mike, along with others began assessing some people who were injured. A lady had been shot in the stomach and a man had been shot in his left shoulder.
Once security came to check on the alarm that was triggered, Jennifer said they loaded the two injured including the man’s wife and sent them on their way.
Before they left, Jennifer and Mike asked security what they should do and they told them to stay on the runway and walk the perimeter until they make it to the terminal.
That’s what they did.
As they made their way to the terminal, Jennifer said they were stopping to talk to people and make sure they were OK. They came across two ladies from Texas who had lost one of their sister.
Jennifer and Mike decided they would help them.
She also said she tried thinking of who she knew in the Las Vegas area and the name Clark Davis came to mind. She said he was a business acquittance from Maple Valley.
She got on Facebook Messanger and asked how far away from Vegas he was. His response, she said, was “Maple Valley to Renton” close.
She responded immediately and told him that a gunman had opened fire on the concert and that they had been running for their lives.
He wrote back, “I’ll be there in 15.”
He arrived and picked up Jennifer and Mike, as well as two ladies from Texas and the sister. When Clark asked where they wanted to go, Jennifer said “your house.”
Once they arrived at Clark’s house in Henderson, his wife offered them food, water and phone chargers. After a little while, they took the ladies from Texas to a hotel.
Around 3:30 a.m. Oct. 2, Jennifer and Mike also got a room in Henderson for the night. They were staying on the eighth floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and were not allowed to go back in yet.
This was around the same time, Jennifer said her brother’s room on floor eight was cleared by SWAT.
Jennifer and Mike stayed in their Henderson hotel room until about 9 a.m. before they made the 15 minute trip back to Mandalay Bay.
When they walked into the hotel lobby, Jennifer said “it looked like a triage.” They were people bandaged, on crutches, medical staff, police officers, she described.
Nothing was open and they hadn’t eaten so they decided to meet up with some friends for breakfast at the Bellagio. It was surreal, she said, as if nothing had happened.
At the Bellagio, Jennifer described people laughing, smiling, playing slots and table games, while the mood at Mandalay Bay was very somber.
When they returned to Mandalay Bay, the staff told them there was no hurry to check out, they could stay as long as they wanted to. “That was nice,” she said.
“We kinda zoned out until our flight,” she added, which they already had booked to leave Monday evening.
Jennifer said this incident will and won’t change how she approaches events in the future. She said she already feels like they are aware of their surroundings, this will just make me more aware.
“We are avid Sounders fan,” she said. “We won’t stop doing what we do, we’ll just be a little cautious.”
She said her and her husband both shoot guns and have taken a number of different trainings and classes before. Because she knows the sound of a gunshot, she said she was able to tune in right away and know that the noise was not fireworks and not part of the show.
“We shoot for fun,” she said. “Being on the other end, changes things a bit.”
One course she credits with helping her get to safety during this incident in Las Vegas was one they took about two years ago at Front Sight Firearms Training Institute in Nevada.
This class helped teach you the working of a gun and how to figure out what your escape would be.
Talking to her less than a week after the incident, Jennifer said she still couldn’t believe it happened.
“I’m glad to be home,” she said.
It was a relief when they were able to text their daughters and let them know they were safe, she said.
“When you go to Vegas, you go for a good time,” Jennifer said. “The night did not go how we thought it was going to.”