‘In the middle of the deadliest shooting in U.S. history, I saw kindness’

Free Press assistant sports editor recounts the sights and sounds of a concert turned into a massacre.

By: Faryn Duncan | October 2, 2017

What I am about to write is not easy. It is not easy to process the evil that goes on in our world. I encourage you to continue reading because it is important to be informed and be aware of what is going on. I understand if this is too hard to read and you cannot continue because my stomach is in knots and I struggle to even write this. But, all of the horrific events that happened were overshadowed by the kindness that people showed to the strangers around them. That is the message we need to take away. Please read on and please be safe.


I was in the middle of the deadliest U.S. shooting in history. This is something that I do not take lightly and I have yet to process fully. I hope by writing this I can make sense of it all for myself and for anyone else that reads this. I was just steps away from absolutely horrific events. I saw things that have yet to leave my brain and I don’t think will leave anytime soon. I am so thankful that I was able to get to safety and that everyone I know that attended is safe as well. I am heartbroken for those who were harmed and cannot explain the sadness that I feel. I want to express my appreciation to every person that stepped up to help save lives, from law enforcement to just random fans in the crowd. I cannot thank you enough for helping me to safety.

Fans cheer performers at the Route 91 festival Saturday night. Over 500 were wounded and 58 confirmed dead after Sunday’s shooting. Photo by: Andrew Rigney/UNLV Scarlet & Gray Free Press

The shots started just after 10 p.m. during Jason Aldean’s set. There were 5-10 shots the first round. I think most people, including myself, thought they were fireworks or confetti cannons or possibly just the speakers malfunctioning. It wasn’t until the second round of shots and the screams of pain that it became clear what was happening. People started yelling to get down and get in cover, then people were yelling for help because others around them had been shot. There were two people in a 10 foot radius of where I was standing who were struck. One of them was standing directly next to my friend’s mom who was about three people ahead of my friend and me. I do not want to go into too much detail, but I think it should be known that this man was incredibly kind to us in the few conversations we had with him before the set started. He served in the U.S. military a few years ago and retired to put himself out of harm’s way. My friend’s mom took a picture of him and the woman he was with before the set began. I pray this man survived and that his family is with him now helping him recover. This innocent man did not deserve this. Nobody in that crowd did.


We dropped to the ground and the only thoughts going through my head were that I had to text my parents and my brother but I could not move. I was frozen. I just wanted to sink underneath the asphalt. There was an echo of prayers from everyone huddled together on the ground, praying for themselves and every person in the crowd. Shots continued. I was so lucky to be standing only a few people away from the fence in front of the stage. The group of people I was in reached a consensus to try to hop the fence as quickly as possible to take shelter underneath the stage. The top of the gate reached my chest and I used everything in me to jump and dive over the top of it. I landed on top of people and people continued to land on top of me. Everyone was trying their best to keep themselves as safe as they could without hurting anyone else in the process.


Underneath the stage, we heard shots continue. That is when I texted my family to let them know that there was a shooting, that we were safe for now, I was not sure how long we would be safe for, and that I loved them. That is the hardest text I have ever had to send. I could not believe what I was typing out. This is only something you see in TV and movies. How did this become reality?


One of the Route 91 staff cut through the tarp on the side of the stage. He very calmly introduced himself, making eye contact with me the entire. His name was Matt. He told my group to run fast and stay low until we got to the trailers to take cover. We grabbed hands and ran. There were clothes, shoes, hats and bags everywhere. Even more terrifying was the trails and puddles of blood we had to run past.


We ran behind the stage where the performers’ trailers were parked. There was a ramp set up against a 20-foot fence that men were helping the women climb up and over. On the other side was another group of men ready to catch us.


As we walked to safety at the Hooters Casino Hotel, we passed people who had been shot, trampled and injured. People were being pulled out in groups on make-shift stretchers made out of plywood, wheelbarrows and trashcans. The ambulances hadn’t arrived yet so people were filling truck beds with injured people to rush them to a hospital. I heard screams and crying and felt like I had stepped into a movie scene. It did not seem real.


But what was even more present than the misery and the terror was the hope and the kindness.


In the midst of one of the most tragic events in U.S. history, people – random people who had just gone to see a country concert – stepped up. They showed how kind and selfless humans can be. I wish that I had gotten their names and had some way to contact them because I can never thank them enough for helping me to safety. Without these men helping out for no other reason except wanting to help other humans, the devastating number of fatalities would have been much higher.


I saw men walking with people thrown over their shoulders and lifting people over the fences and barriers to safety. People were giving up their clothes to others that were shaking and shivering in fear. People were creating slings and tourniquets out of their shirts for others to help stop the bleeding. People were finding water for others to drink and towels for them to clean the dirt and blood off of themselves. People were making room for others under shelter. People were simply reaching out to touch the shoulder of another to console them. Even that small act meant the world.


Our Las Vegas police, firefighters and EMT’s also deserve so many thanks for what they did to help that night. These men and women put themselves in danger every single day to keep us safe.


Going forward, I hope that people look past the evil that occurred. There was so much goodness that needs to be recognized. I ask that instead of focusing on what this man’s motives or mental state was, we focus on the amazing things that happened. I want to thank each person in that crowd and every person who put themselves in danger to help others. They are the ones we need to be focusing on, not the man who brought this on.


When I woke up this morning after a very short, restless sleep to read the news updates and see the number of fatalities that has continued to rise, my stomach dropped and my heart was so heavy for everyone in that concert that was not as lucky as I was.


Tragic things happen every single day and we are living in a time where it seems as though these incidents are happening every time we blink our eyes. What I saw in that crowd was selflessness and kindness. No matter what your race is, what gender you are, what political ideas you tend toward, what your sexual orientation is, it doesn’t matter. As humans we just need to be kind to each other. I saw that at Route 91. I saw people come together with an unbelievable willingness to sacrifice themselves to help strangers.


Life is very short. It does not always get wrapped up nicely in a bow, and bad things happen every day. It is important that in this time we come together and continue to show the immense amounts of kindness humans are capable of showing. Give blood, donate to GoFundMe fundraisers, be there for anyone that needs to talk about what happened, just be kind. My heart goes out to the victims and their families. Thank you to every person who risked their lives to help save mine and the others around me.

Tags assigned to this article:

Related Articles

Why gun control does not work

Why gun control does not workBy Chelsea Grazzini | October 23rd, 2017 Illustration by Eleanor Roh / UNLV Scarlet &

Business as Usual

Business as UsualA Look Inside Mandalay Bay Just Hours After the Deadly ShootingAnnabel Rocha | October 3, 2017 Reporters and

Man arrested in kidnapping, sexual assault may have had prior reports

Man arrested in kidnapping, sexual assault may have had prior reportsBy Bianca Cseke | October 30th, 2017 Photo from Las