It was a little after 10 p.m. and, like most nights, I was scrolling Facebook to see what was going on. My husband, John, was frying some potatoes for us in the kitchen. Minutes later, as I sat in bed enjoying my snack, a friend posted about a shooting happening at Mandalay Bay. He said he saw something about it on Twitter.
Wanting to know more, I quickly scarfed down the rest of my potatoes and focused my attention on Twitter for information. Reporters I knew from UNLV live tweeted the incident. Updates came in bit by bit.
Two dead. Dozens injured. Parts of the Strip shut down. Only one gunman, not multiple as was initially suspected. Suspect dead. Event goers shuttled to the Thomas and Mack Center for shelter until they were allowed to return to their hotel rooms.
At 2 a.m. I began nodding off, though I wanted to stay up to keep up date on what was happening. Six hours later I awoke to the news that 50+ had been confirmed dead. More than 500 had been injured, some critical.
The shooter, as many of us have now learned, turned out to be a 64 year old from the small town of Mesquite, Nevada, just an hour and a half or so from Las Vegas.
Las Vegas. A city that is all about fun, excitement, and debauchery. Shit like this doesn't happen here.
But it did on that late October night.
By morning the community had rallied together from the north side of the valley to the south. From east to west. Lines at United Blood Services locations were wrapped around the buildings. Many of those wanting to donate had been there for hours, some even overnight as they waited for the blood banks to open.
Along with those wanting to donate blood, people showed up with food, water, and other drinks for those waiting in line. Volunteers stepped up to help in any way possible.
As I followed what was happening on Twitter and Facebook, I was in awe at how quickly this community came together to help those in need. Hotels and AirBnbs offered free rooms. Drivers offered free rides. My husband and I also volunteered our time by delivering pizzas from Evel Pie to one of the blood banks.
And in the middle of all this, I've seen some theories floating around. Theories that suggested there was indeed more than one gunman. Theories that questioned how it was possible for a retired accountant to just snap. Whether or not we'll ever know remains to be seen.
My own heart remains heavy as I write this. I have struggled to find the right words and in doing so have edited this post a good half dozen times, each time changing to better reflect the reality of the events that have occurred.
Two days later, this city continues to mourn and will do so for days, weeks, and likely months to come. But we, as a community will heal. We will overcome this event and be better than ever because that's what we do.
To the first responders who acted quickly to save lives: Thank you.
To all those who have stepped up in a time of need: Thank you.
To the reporters who bravely reported the events well into the night: Thank you.
This city is as amazing as it is because of all of you.