AN Omagh woman has described the moment she fled from the deadliest shooting in modern US history.
Elaine Ewing was among the thousands of concertgoers attending the open air Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday night when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel, killing 59 and wounding more than 500.
The Omagh woman, who travelled to the festival with her sister Kathy and two other locals, was standing at the side of the stage during Jason Aldean’s performance when the rain of gunfire began.
Recounting the “scariest experience” of her life, Elaine said, “Jason Aldean had only been on stage approximately 25 minutes when we heard banging noises in quick succession.
“Immediately we thought it was maybe fireworks, but then we couldn’t see any. The music kept playing for a few more beats, then there was no music. Jason ran off stage and we started to see people running towards us from the front of the venue.
“That’s when we turned to run as well.”
Under a hail of bullets that lasted for around nine minutes, Elaine fled and got separated from her three travelling companions.
“I remember police immediately shouting for people to take cover. I was crammed in under a bar taking cover with numerous Americans, young and old, shaking, terrified.
“The gunfire continued, I kept hearing voices shouting ‘stay down’. More and more people jumped in to cower where we were.
“It might have been five to ten minutes. Then I heard a man shout that he was an off duty paramedic and urged us to get up and run as the shooter was re-loading.”
At that moment, Elaine made a break for it.
“I ran with another girl, not knowing where to go. People were crying, shaking, asking why. I saw people covered in blood, police were everywhere.”
Worried about her sister and her other travelling companions, Elaine frantically tried to make contact, before a message finally came through. The three had managed to scale a fence and make it to the MGM Hotel.
“They ran though the hotel as there were reports of another shooter,” said Elaine.
The Omagh women were finally reunited back at their hotel, the Excalibur, which overlooks the concert area.
“We were so thankful to be reunited safely,” she said.
The women spent the ensuing hours in a state of shock in the hotel, watching news reports and the scenes outside their window.
Now in California with her sister, Elaine said she remains devastated yet thankful to be safe.
“Sunday night was scary beyond belief. It’s devastating what has happened. We are very lucky.”