‘We thought it was firecrackers, then people started screaming’: ASU student describes witnessing Las Vegas shooting first-hand

‘The man right next to my dad was killed’

Sunday night, a gunman began shooting at a crowd in Las Vegas around 10pm. The night resulted with 59 people killed and 527 injured according to the New York Times

ASU student Kendal Balas and her family were at the Route 91 Harvest Festival at the time of the shooting. The day after the shooting Balas took to twitter to inform her family and friends that she and her family were safe.

"I cannot wrap my head around what happened last night," Kendal said in a note attached to her tweet.

"This seems like something that you only see on the news. And then it happens to you," she said. "I don't know how long it is going to take me to get the vivid replay of tonight out of my head."

When Kendal first heard the gunshots, she "thought it was firecrackers going off. Then people started screaming."

Once Kendal and her family realized it was an active shooter, her family took cover. "My parents, sister, and I laid on the ground crying and holding each other like everyone else," Kendal said.

"The man right next to my dad was killed. We ended up jumping over the barrier next to the stage and getting underneath the stage behind a concrete block where we prayed with others there," Kendal said, detailing her family's journey to safety.

Once the shooting stopped, a sheriff evacuated her family. They then took shelter in a Tropicana bathroom and barricaded the door with lockers, before being moved to the engineering room of a local hotel.

Her family was barricaded for almost two hours before the hotel was cleared by a SWAT team. She describes people huddling together, using hotel blankets for warmth and trying to make sense of what just happened.

Kendal was attending the Route 91 Harvest festival, a three-day country music festival that takes place every year in Las Vegas. This festival is for family and friends to enjoy live music and time together.

"This is only my experience, there were 30,000 people there," Kendal said. "We might have bruises and scrapes, but we are alive. So so so many people lost their lives and loved ones, please pray for the families of the victims and hold your loved ones extra close."

Arizona State University