Shuswap woman, friends escape Las Vegas attack

By James Peters
October 2, 2017 - 9:36am Updated: October 2, 2017 - 5:48pm

LAS VEGAS — A Shuswap woman attending the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas last night says she must have a guardian angel.

Darcy Custeau of Blind Bay was at the festival with three friends when shots rang out from a balcony at the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel.

Once the rampage was over, at least 58 people were killed and more than 500 were wounded.

It was the deadliest mass shooting in United States history.

Custeau described the scene as chaotic.

"Jason Aldean had just come out and we heard three bangs. People were saying, 'Oh, they're just fireworks,' and everybody kind of stopped and (the concert) just kept going," said Custeau. "Then were a bunch of other bangs, and people were like, 'There's guns! There's guns! Get down! Get down!'

"People just started flooding out of there and people were just dropping and covering. All the guys were covering the girls. You'd just get up when the gunshots stopped and you'd just run, and the guns would start again and you'd just drop. There were just 22,000 people trying to get out of there.

"There were tons of food carts and all of them had been left. You're trying to get through fences and guys are lifting girls over 12 foot fences to get out because you don't know what exits are there. People are helping people and there are people dead all over the ground."

Custeau says it's a wonder neither she nor her friends were hit by bullets, as concert-goers were going down all around her.

"Right behind us, right behind us... We had guardian angels. There was a guy 10 feet from us who had been shot in the arm. We kind of knew their family and he had surgery last night. One of the girls who was with us was at the front of the stage, and the girl beside her got shot."

The shooter, 64 year old Stephen Paddock, took his own life as police stormed his hotel room.

His motives are as yet unclear, but investigators say he had at least 10 firearms with him in the room.

In the midst of the attack, Custeau said it didn't seem to be a lone gunman firing from an elevated balcony.

"It was just chaos. It was a machine gun. We thought that there were people coming through the back gates shooting, because it echoed like big fireworks. So we didn't realize that we were being shot at from above," she said.

"We didn't realize that the shooter was in (the Mandalay Bay hotel) until we got (to the room) and turned the news on. When we running, we just kept passing the SWAT team and they just kept telling, "Go that way, run that way and don't stop.'"

Even as the chaos unfolded, Custeau said there were some examples of heroism.

"You're scared you're going in the wrong direction, and you just want to get out of there. But people were helping each other. It wasn't like a mass rush where people were trampling other people. Everybody was helping everybody. It was amazing. All the guys were going on top of the girls. It was something else."

Custeau and her friends have a flight back to Canada booked for Tuesday.

She says they plan on hunkering down in their hotel room until then, trying to process what they have just witnessed.

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