I spent the afternoon with my wife and friends at the new T-Mobile arena watching our new hockey team, the Vegas Golden Knights. When the game ended around 7:30pm, we walked back to the MGM Grand parking lot, hopped in our car and drove home.
As I was laying in bed a few hours later, I saw a friend’s Facebook post:
Active shooter at Rt. 91 harvest festival. On the floor of our office on the festival grounds.
My mind started racing. Not only do we know several people who might be attending the show, we also know several people who work in the area and could easily be in danger.
I spent the next couple hours refreshing Facebook and searching for any information I could find.
I was reading Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and any page that Google would turn up related to the attack. I read that there was 1 shooter. Then there were 2. Then there were shooters at hotels up and down the strip in a well-timed mass attack. There were 2 casualties. Then there were 100. It was impossible to know what to believe.
I was hearing reports that gunshots were going off in New York, New York, and the MGM Grand casino. The exact locations where we had been just hours earlier. The information was terrifying.
I eventually found a feed for a police scanner. By the time I did, the craziness had subsided. There were no more “hot zones.” They were in the process of systematically clearing venues. There were 1000-1200 people on lockdown inside a theater and they were wondering how to get them out and where to even send them. Things sounded like they were under control. I didn’t really have any concrete information about the attack, but I needed sleep and morning would likely bring more answers.
The day after
When I woke up, I read more articles. The number of injuries and casualties was sickening. I had work to do, but I couldn’t stop scrolling Facebook to make sure all our friends were safe and accounted for. I considered taking the day off, and my company wouldn’t have thought twice about giving it to me. But, I knew that work was the distraction I needed.
I read countless articles and posts about the attack. I spent as little time as possible reading about the asshole that carried out the attack. I don’t remember his name, and I hope I never do. Instead, I read about the victims. I read about the amazing people who laid on top of loved ones to shield them from gunfire. I read about friends who spent the night driving people who were stranded to their hotels. And, I was heartbroken to read about those who died.
Snapped back to reality
In the early afternoon, I read a Facebook post that punched me in the gut. I can’t find the post now, but it said something like, “I feel bad that I’m becoming desensitized to these types of events.”
I count myself extremely lucky. Not a single person I know directly was injured in the attack. However, the niece of a friend was shot. Two relatives of somebody else I know were shot. Somebody my sister works with was shot. And I’m sure there are friends of friends who were either shot or killed that I simply haven’t learned about yet. I feel absolutely gutted by last night’s events. While I may not have been affected directly by the attack, it affected me deeply.
That Facebook post also affected me. Not because I think the person was being insensitive or anything like that. Actually, the post scared me a little. It made me think if the attack last night had happened somewhere else, would I have felt desensitized to it, too? The thought made me sick to my stomach all over again.
So, what’s next?
For large parts of the day, I was feeling a bit lost. Like being in a fog. Then, two phone calls in the afternoon helped to change that.
First was a call from a close friend who asked, “I know you’re OK, but are you OK?” I’m not sure you can ask a better question. We chatted for a few minutes and talked about how you can’t live in fear. You have to continue to live your life and do what you’re going to do. It would more reasonable to live in fear of driving a car than to worry about another attack like this.
Then there was a call with a guy I know from here in town. When he picked up the phone, I said, “Hello, how are you doing?” The same thing I’ve said on 1000 phone calls before. He said, “I’m having a hard time answering that question today. It’s the worst day of my life. But, we have to pick ourselves up and keep moving forward.” He’s right. Even though it feels like an impossible task, we must.