Friday 23 February 2018

'Someone shouted "gunman"... everyone scattered, casino chips still on the table' - Irishman on Las Vegas shooting horror

Police and rescue personnel gather at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Ave. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Police and rescue personnel gather at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Ave. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
People react at gunshots heard at music festival in Las Vegas, U.S. in this picture obtained from social media. @RTBLECKvia REUTERS
Medics treat the wounded as Las Vegas police respond during an active shooter situation on the Las Vegas Stirp in Las Vegas. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)
Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

An Irishman has described his panic as a gunman opened fire on a concert at a Las Vegas Strip hotel.

Dylan Walsh, from North Dublin, is in Las Vegas with a group of friends and in an interview with Independent.ie he revealed that they originally thought it was a crash.

More than 50 people have died 200 people were injured after a gunman opened fire from a room at the Mandalay Bay hotel on a concert by country music artist Jason Aldean at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.

Mr Walsh (21), who is staying at nearby Planet Hollywood, said they were sitting outside having a beer on the Strip when the drama unfolded.

"We saw loads of ambulances going up the Strip and I looked at the lads said 'f**k that's a serious crash'. Little did we know at the time."

He continued: "Then all the bars and restaurants start closing down.

"The next thing I know someone shouted 'gunman' near enough to us so we ran. Everyone scattered, casino chips and all still on the table.

"Waiters dropped everything. It was scary looking back now."

The Dubliner, who works as a security officer, explained that they raced to his hotel and there are currently six people inside his room.

"I'm okay now but it is totally surreal."

Dublin woman Christine O’Hanlon was at the nearby Aria hotel when the shooting took place.

“All of a sudden there was a bit of a commotion and people started to run. At first, we weren’t really sure what was happening but I could hear popping sounds and obviously that was gunfire, but we didn’t realise it at the time,” she said.

“Then people were running, it was like a stampede. We weren’t sure what was going on.”

Ms O’Hanlon told Newstalk all the people working in the casino bent down behind the tables.

“Because there was such confusion, no one knew what was happening. The reception area cleared out - people lay down on the floor. There was no alarm,” she said.

“One of the staff said it was unusual, normally an alarm would sound, that’s why they were confused as well. Because it happened so quickly.

“We ran out to the front of the hotel, people were talking, said there was shooting at the Mandalay Bay hotel, which wasn’t too far from us because we could hear the gunfire.

“We thought then we have to get back inside. We managed to speak to one of the pit bosses, asked what’s going on, because the casino had cleared out quite a bit, but there were still people on the slot machines.

“We then went to security who recommended we go to our rooms.”

Ms O’Hanlon said she and other guests were currently on “lock down” in their hotel rooms.

“People were unsure, we helped one little old lady to her room to her family, she was very shaken, her family were oblivious,” she said.

“On our way to our room met other people who were going downstairs, we told them what was happening, there was a lot of confusion.

“Sheer collective panic, we knew something wasn’t right, but the not knowing was frightening.

“When we walked back through the casino to get to lifts to the room, there were no staff to say what was happening other than pit boss - it was eerie.”

Omagh woman Kathy Ewing said she was at the concert when the gun fire broke out. She said she and her three friends were able to escape unharmed.

"Terrifying," she said in a tweet.

Belfast woman Frances McCullough, has been in the city since last Monday. She described the shooting as "absolute chaos".

She was close to the concert when the shooting began: "At first I thought it was fireworks.... then we heard screaming and shouting and the police were running toward us telling us to run for cover.

"I haven't experienced fear like it. I was all excited and buzzing to get here and now I can honestly say I can't wait to get home," she told the BBC.

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney condemned the attack.

"This was a savage and brutal attack targeting innocent festival-goers.

“I wish to express my heartfelt condolences and those of the Irish people to the families of the victims, those who were injured and to the people and the authorities of the United States on this tragic day.

“As of now, we have no indications to suggest that any Irish citizens have been affected.  I am conscious, however, that it will take time before all of the casualties are identified. My Department, through our Consulate General in San Francisco and the Honorary Consulate in Las Vegas, is continuing to monitor the situation."

Any families in Ireland who have concerns about relatives can contact the Department’s Consular Assistance Unit on 01 4082527.

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