MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Among the people that were present at the country music concert that was attacked by a gunman Sunday evening was an employee at WCCO’s sister station, BUZ’N 102.9.
Katie Toupal was in Las Vegas at the Jason Aldean performance, and said he was about five songs into the set and welcoming everyone to the concert and telling them to enjoy themselves.
Toupal said she and her friends were in the VIP area, which was close up by Mandalay Bay, the hotel where the believed shooter Stephen Paddock was located.
“Five songs in and we heard a couple pops,” she said. “(We thought) it was just some guy throwing firecrackers off in the bathroom.”
She said that suddenly Jason Aldean cut out and everything went black and people started running. She said the second that Aldean cut out, she knew that something terrible was happening.
“That’s when I was like this is really happening. It’s not just some story you see on the news every day, it’s actually happening right now. People were dodging, hiding under tables. In the VIP section there are tables, but it was a tent, so … I don’t know how bullets didn’t go through that. We decided we had to keep running out toward the festival. One of my friends got split up from us, so we were trying to find her. She ran down the strip and went to a local gas station and we ran through the parking lot. Saw so many bodies laying there, hurt. A lot of people not having any help, either.”
Toupal said that the sound of the bullets seemed as though he was shooting multiple weapons.
She said she and others took refuge at condos that were nearby. She said they huddled there in the dark and stayed for three to four hours.
The morning after, she says she remembers the scene of screaming and panicking.
“There was a lot of blood. There was a woman sitting across from us in the condo, she had blood all over her shirt. My friend had blood on her shoes,” she said. “I’m angry and scared … Country music festivals, you go and you just have fun, you make friends, you enjoy yourself and celebrate the music and just enjoy it. I have a friend who’s never been to a country music festival and I just talk about how great it was, and she’ll never go back.”
Authorities say that more than 50 people were killed and more than 200 hurt in the mass shooting.