By Kassidy Krystek
It’s known as “The Vegas Shooting” to most people. To Las Vegas residents, it’s known as “One October.”
I woke up on Oct. 2, 2017 to text messages from people I normally don’t hear from. They were all asking if my family was O.K. and saying they were sorry for what happened in Vegas. It was 8 a.m. in Columbia but 5 a.m.in Las Vegas. At that time, there were 15 of the 59 confirmed dead at what was being called the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
I thought to myself “My family is all right and shootings happen often in Vegas. This is nothing new.” I brushed it off and didn’t think too much about it.
As the day progressed, the news updates started pouring in on every media outlet. Hearing the news from CNN or a local news affiliate is one thing but hearing it from people who survived it is another. Every time I got on Facebook or Twitter that day, another person I grew up with posted about being thankful they escaped or updating people on their hospital status.
There was one girl in particular that I really worried about. Her name is Chelsea. I cheered in high school with her and we became extremely close. I was watching Snapchat stories from that night and saw hers. The last thing that was posted to her story was of her at the music festival where the shooting was during the Jason Aldean set. The Jason Aldean set was when the shooting began. For the next 5 minutes I was frantically searching social media for anything from her or her family members saying she was all right. Thankfully, her mom posted on her personal Facebook saying that Chelsea was shaken up but was O.K.. She and her friends escaped by being hoisted over the barriers around the festival area then they ran into a woman’s hotel room for shelter.
Stories like Chelsea’s were common with survivors. I know of, at least, 25 people who I grew up with and was close to at one point who went through a similar experience at that shooting.
Patrick Burke, a Las Vegas Metro officer, is among the first responders. He is also my godfather and a very close family friend. Burke was working overtime at the festival and was on the opposite side from the Mandalay Bay, where the shooter was shooting from, across the street. As soon as the shots started, Burke and his partner grabbed their rifles, ran across the kill zone, across the street, into the Mandalay Bay and up to the 32nd floor where the shooter was. Burke and his partner were among the first officers in the room. Burke was recognized by local officials and President Donald Trump for his efforts.
Hearing the news about any mass shooting is saddening but it’s different when it’s home. It’s different when it’s my home. It’s different when it happened 20 minutes from your house. It’s different when you know over 30 of the 515 people who were injured and know family members of the 59 dead.
Although America is no longer fixated on the Las Vegas Shooting, Vegas residents are still remaining Vegas Strong. The Vegas Strong campaign remains prevalent in all things Vegas and transcends the barriers of the valley. One October will never be forgotten.
Krystek is a public relations senior.