VANCOUVER — Accounts of survival, fear and chaos are emerging from those affected by a mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday night. American officials say a lone gunman opened fire on concertgoers at a country music festival, leaving dozens dead and wounding hundreds more. Two Canadians were among the dead. Here are the stories of survivors in their own words:
Ryan Bedrosian of Toronto was leaving the concert venue with his sister and her friend when the shooting started.
"It was just complete chaos. Saw people falling and you knew they were hit. That was the craziest part, the running for your life. Everyone must have been running for a solid hour before they found some sort of shelter," Bedrosian said. "I didn't see bullets because there was no time to be paying that kind of attention. I just saw people fall. ... People thought there were ground shooters around. You were fearing for your life opening every door."
Laura Xausa-Thomas of Langley, B.C., said she initially thought the gunfire and sirens were part of a show.
"I have three kids at home and that's where I need to be. Because what goes through my mind right now, to be quite honest, is all the mothers and fathers and children and grandparents and parents and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles who have lost people in this senseless shooting, and the people that are injured and the people that have passed away. That's what actually gets to me, because I am a mom. They were just innocent people there who were watching a concert. It could have been me, very easily. It could have been me."
Lisa Manley of Maple Ridge, B.C., said she was walking along the Las Vegas Strip when the screaming began. She took cover inside the kitchen area of a hotel conference room for hours before police told her it was safe to come out.
"There was like a firecracker that went off, and it just wouldn't stop. Then they told us to get down on the ground," Manley said. "People screaming, yelling, 'Active shooter! Active shooter!' And people running. Just going anywhere."
Robert Jones, of Las Vegas, was visiting Vancouver on business and said the hardest part was leaving his family behind.
"I have a very 14-year-old son and you want to be close," Jones said. "This is the world that we live in today. So we might as well brace ourselves. You can't protect yourself from something that occurred like that. ... You can't protect yourself from something like this. It's very tragic, and my heart is very sore and empty from this."
Hudson Mack of Victoria, B.C., flew with his family to be with his son Sheldon, who is in the intensive care unit of a Las Vegas hospital. Mack released a statement on Facebook.
"His friends, Liam and Cole, helped him and others, and someone saved his life, dragging him to safety and getting him to an ambulance. Whoever you are, thank you. He was hit twice, in the forearm and abdomen. The prognosis is good. Sheldon is strong."
The Canadian Press