All they could do is sit and wait for five hours with no idea what was happening outside.
Ashley Brooke-Tingey, goalkeeper for Kentwood High School, and her mom went to Las Vegas for the Route 91 Harvest three-day music festival Oct. 1 to celebrate her mom’s birthday. They stayed at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the 31st floor; one floor below the suite where 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada opened fire at 10:05 p.m. on 22,000 music fans watching the headline act, Jason Aldean. Paddock killed 59 and injured more than 500 in less than 15 minutes.
She and her mom went to the festival part of Friday and all of Saturday, but Tingey said she didn’t want to go on Sunday, Oct. 1.
“For some reason I didn’t want to see Jason Aldean; he was the final person there and I just didn’t want to go,” she said. “I just had a gut feeling, I really didn’t want to go.”
Instead of seeing Aldean, she and her mom decided to see the 9:30 p.m. showing of the Michael Jackson show in the Mandalay Bay’s theater.
That’s when all hell broke loose.
“We were inside the theater when the shooting happened and you know like in Las Vegas, if something goes wrong, then they’re like ‘the show must go on,’ and it was really weird cause they shut everything down,” Tingey said.
She said suddenly the actors ran off the stage and they turned the lights down and had someone come over the intercom in the theater say “due to some sort of interruption, we need to stop the show.”
The next thing they knew, cops came busting into the theater with no understanding as to why or what was going on.
During this time, everyone in the audience started to look at their phones for an explanation as to why they could not leave the theater.
That’s when it hit everyone, there was a shooting going on right outside the hotel.
They kept seeing headlines that said, “Active shooter in Mandalay Bay!”
“We were all kind of freaking out, but surprisingly we all stayed pretty calm for the most part, which I’m pretty thankful for because it could have gotten crazier than we expected,” Tingey said.
Within an hour of being locked in the theater, the SWAT team came in to line up and make sure no one could leave or get in.
At one point, one of the SWAT members said “Listen up!” and Tingey said they thought this was the moment they would finally know more details as to what was going on, but then there was a loud BANG! at the door to the left of the theater.
She said about two-thirds of the audience, including her and her mom, hit the floor.
“We just ducked and covered our heads, and the cops drew their guns at the door,” she said.
She said no one came into the theater and she still has no idea who or what was banging at the door.
At about 3:30 a.m., the police and SWAT members allowed people to leave.
Tingey said they wanted the elderly to go out first, and then the sick.
“The sad part was that we saw a bunch of people that were faking being sick or anything like that (to leave first), that part made me sad,” she said.
At this point, Tingey said they were able to go out of the hotel through an alleyway as police officers checked to make sure everyone was OK.
Then she said they had to take turns taking the city metro bus, which dropped them off at what Tingey believes was the local college stadium.
“I just remember them dropping us off at the stadium and as soon as we were there there we were like ‘OK, where do we go now,’” she said.
No one was allowed to go back to their rooms at the Mandalay Bay Hotel while the police investigated further into the shooting.
Tingey said they were walking around for less than two minutes when they found someone who was willing to help them navigate through the city. It was a nice couple that seemed to know the city well.
“The best part of it (that Sunday), was everyone came together really, really well,” she said. “There were so many people offering rides to people that just didn’t have anywhere to go or you know to just take them off the streets cause it was cold, it was windy, it was 3:30 in the morning (so) it was freezing.”
Tingey said she and her mom, and the couple they met, had “each others backs” while they tried to figure out where to go and what to do. Someone pulled up in a car to offer them a ride, but they only had room for two people. Even though they didn’t know the couple and vice versa, they all stuck together until they found a ride that could transport them all together.
“They stayed with us until we found someone that could give us all a ride, which was actually really amazing and really heart touching because me and my mom were just lost,” she said.
The man who picked them up drove them to the Southpoint Hotel, south of the Vegas Strip, where they finally got a hotel room for the night at around 5 a.m. with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
She said they had to buy T-shirts to sleep in, a phone charger and other essentials.
Tingey said they didn’t sleep much that night and ended up watching the news for an hour or so before finally deciding to settle in and try to go to bed.
When daylight came, Tingey and her mom were able to go back to the Mandalay Bay to get their belongings at around 12:30 p.m.
Once at the Mandalay Bay, they were escorted to the 31st floor where their room was. According to Tingey, no one was allowed to the 32nd floor, where the shooter was.
“When we finally got to our room, we could see the room right where he was shooting from, the festival was right below so he had a direct target,” Tingey said.
She said one of the scariest realizations was where she and her mom’s seats would have been at the concert was right in the line of fire.
The week or two to follow the concert in Las Vegas, Tingey and her mom were supposed to go to a Florida Georgia Line concert, but Tingey decided not to go.
Tingey said she does not want this to effect her in such a terrible way that it will run her life and determine if she goes to future events or not.
“It was completely unfair that someone could go absolutely insane and just snap out of nowhere,” she said. “I think as time passes and I understand that not everyone is crazy like that… I don’t want someone to effect my life like that, I don’t want to be scared for the rest of my life because the fact of the matter is I had a fun time while we were there before… my heart goes out to those people, but I have to say the best part was how heroic some people were.”