A senior boy’s girlfriend was supposed to be at a Jason Aldean concert Oct. 1 in Las Vegas with limited access to cell service until after midnight.
Instead, he received a call from her around 10:40 p.m., not knowing he was about to hear news that would break to the rest of the country just minutes later.
The senior boy wanted to remain anonymous to protect his and his girlfriend’s privacy.
The student’s girlfriend was in the crowd targeted by a shooter from a window of a room at Mandalay Bay Resort. 58 people were killed and nearly 500 were injured in the incident, according to the New York Times.
His girlfriend heard the first round of gunshots and assumed they were fireworks meant to accompany the concert’s headline performance. He said his girlfriend stood just a few feet away from the front-right portion of the stage, where the shots were concentrated.
“She was very obviously shaken up and in tears, and she didn’t know what was happening, but she told me there was a shooting at the festival,” he said. “I was extremely shocked and not ready for that, as anyone wouldn’t be, but as she started to process everything I was just talking with her, trying to figure where she was, what she knew, if she was safe and if she was hurt.”
His girlfriend escaped to safety and was then shuttled to a bulletproof room at the airport. He remained on the phone with her, continuing to console her and inform her of media coverage, he said.
“I kind of just felt helpless the whole time because I couldn’t really do anything,” he said. “I couldn’t be with her, I couldn’t understand how she felt, so I just did my best to relate with her and tell her what was happening.”
Back in LA, Sydney Pizer ’19 sat alone in her home anxiously awaiting the arrival of her parents. Though they were not in Las Vegas, they had returned from a trip there just a week earlier, and were unreachable at a concert in LA at the time of the shooting, she said.
“I was feeling very scared and sad about the people who were hurt or killed in this tragedy, as well as their families, and upset that something this terrible could happen,” Pizer said. “I was also anxious because had the tragedy occurred a week earlier, my parents could have been there.”
Pizer said the tragedy in Vegas inspired her to be a more active follower of news, particularly regarding gun control.
“I felt incredibly lucky that my parents weren’t there and that I have them in my life,” Pizer said. “It made me realize I probably don’t tell them how much they mean to me enough. Ultimately, this tragedy forced me to recognize the need to constantly tell your loved ones how important they are to you.”
Still overwhelmed and emotionally disoriented from the night before, the senior boy had a hard time being prepared to discuss the shooting the next day at school, he said. His history teacher brought up the incident in his class. He said he volunteered to speak, giving minimal detail, and received a respectful response.
“Even though it’s hard, I do think it’s important to talk about and I’m glad I was able to address it with personal insight,” he said.