WATCH: Victoria’s police chief and Mill Bay’s fire chief were both in Las Vegas during the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. April Lawrence reports.
Normally jammed with crowds of tourists, on Monday there only a handful of people out on the Las Vegas Strip with many indoors at impromptu blood donation clinics after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Victoria Police Chief Del Manak was watching a Cirque de Soleil show at Mandalay Bay, the same hotel that the shooter was firing from.
The show stopped and about 15 minutes later, eight Las Vegas police officers came rushing in.
“They were heavily armed, there was a number of them with tac[tical] vests and helmets and rifles those with handguns had their guns drawn,” said Manak on the phone from Las Vegas.
Despite the terrifying scene, Manak says the officer in charge reassured the crowd, restoring a sense of calm in a chaotic situation.
“He said we’re going to keep you safe, we got this and as soon as he said that there was 3000 spontaneously started clapping,” he said.
Some in the crowd were sobbing, and Manak did his best to try to keep them calm.
“I did my best to calm people down and saying that look you may not think so but this is the safest place to be right now,” he said.
Another Vancouver Island first responder, Mill Bay Fire Chief Ron Beck, was a block away at his hotel: New York New York.
“All of a sudden SWAT teams came in, and basically the lobby, the casino everything cleared out, it was dead silence and we were in total lockdown,” Beck said.
Beck says it was difficult to standby as he watched other first responders rush into action.
“You would really like to do something but it’s like you’re into a state of helplessness, cause not knowing what’s going on and being a block away you know you just sort of keep thinking I hope things are going to be okay,” Beck said.
With signs across the city thanking first responders Monday, Beck and Manak say they were impressed by what they witnessed.