PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — All day Monday at the Portland International Airport, flights from Las Vegas have reunited people with their loves ones, some of whom were at the concert where a gunman opened fire, killing dozens.
Amanda Madison was at the concert with her friend when the shooting started. She told KOIN 6 News she was kind of close to the stage and at first, thought it was fireworks going off. Then the woman next to her was shot and everyone started screaming to get on the floor.
“We just kind of fell to the ground. Everyone yelling ‘stay down,'” she said. “We laid there kind of waiting for the shots to stop.”
While she was on the ground, she texted her loves ones: “I said that ‘I love you.’ I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
All she wanted to do was see her husband and son.
“Happy to be home … it was the scariest time of my life,” Madison said. “So I’m just happy to be here and I just never want to leave again.”
Devin Beeson was also at the airport awaiting her mom and stepdad, who were at the concert after they won the trip from a radio station contest.
“I was just in a panic,” Beeson told KOIN 6 News.
She was getting secondhand updates from her grandma, but she didn’t know they were safe until hours later.
“I was like, ‘oh no, am I going to see my mom again? Am I going to see my stepdad again?'” she said. “And at 2:30 in the morning I got the phone call and .. instant relief.”
Portlanders gathered outside the Portland Art Museum Monday afternoon to remember the hundreds of people affected by the shooting. People lit candles and comforted each other in the face of yet another mass shooting in America.
“I think, by now, we just expect it, you know,” Adrian Groenendyk told KOIN 6 News. “Things become normalized when something that normally shocks people is experienced over and over and over again.”
The somber gathering brought up memories of past tragedies for some.
Haleema Mian, who moved to Portland from Aurora, Colorado, was reminded of 2012, when a dozen people were gunned down at a movie theater there.
“I woke up to this news and I’m an empathetic person so I immediately started crying,” Mian said. “I didn’t have any words this morning. It definitely hits home.”
The Morrison Bridge was lit up red, white and blue to honor the victims as well.
Witness and survivor accounts from the Las Vegas shooting
LAS VEGAS (AP) — It was a night of music that turned to chaos and horror. There were 22,000 country music fans at the outdoor Las Vegas concert when the shooting started. Police said 59 people died and 527 were injured when a shooter rained gunfire down on them from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino hotel. Here are the accounts of survivors and their loved ones, interviewed by The Associated Press.
‘THEY’RE SHOOTING AT US’
Jessica Cabrera called her father from Las Vegas and screamed into the phone: “They’re shooting at us. People are falling. I love you!”
It was shortly after 10 p.m. The horror his 21-year-old daughter recounted was every parents’ worst nightmare.
James Cabrera and his wife, Sonia Pena, jumped in their car and drove to Las Vegas as fast they could from their home in La Habra, California.
“That was the fastest drive in history from California to Vegas,” he said, seated Monday morning at a slot machine in the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
The parents learned their daughter and the friend she went to the festival with had escaped the shooting and hid inside a bathroom at the MGM Hotel until morning. Cabrera’s daughter said people they had befriended at the concert were shot, he said.
College student Brandon Clack and his girlfriend were up near the stage when they heard a cracking noise.
“We thought it was some kind of fireworks. But then we could tell it was multiple, multiple rounds,” said Clack, 21, from La Palma, California. “It went on for a long time. Like 10 minutes.”
The cracking sound stopped. Then it restarted. Chaos swept the crowd as people started running, trying to get out and spreading to hotels along the Las Vegas Strip
“People started running over to the Tropicana, so we decided to run over to the MGM,” said Clack, whose mother and brother were staying there.
Clack and his girlfriend, Leslie Reynoso, 20, said they hunkered down with family friends at a room at the MGM for about four hours until authorities declared the situation clear.
CHAOS IN THE DARK
In the darkness, nobody knew what the popping sound was at first.
“We couldn’t tell where it was coming from,” said 33-year-old Jason Sorenson of Newport Beach, California, who had traveled to Las Vegas with his girlfriend for the event.
It became clear what was happening when the musicians left the stage.
“It was horrific. We just starting running, and we saw people with blood all over their shirts,” he said. “It wasn’t clear how it bad it was, however, (until) this morning when we walked through the hotel lobby and saw the news on the TVs saying that more than 50 people had died.”
Sorenson said they had initially been sitting down on the ground in the middle of the crowd facing the stage, but they had moved up to a safer VIP area they had access to before the shooting began.
“If we had stayed in the front, we would have been in the direct line of fire,” Sorenson said.
MOMENTS OF KINDNESS
Amid the terror, one couple found moments of kindness, and possibly a guardian angel.
Andrew Akiyoshi, who captured the gunfire on a cellphone video he provided to The Associated Press, attended the concert with friend Loreli Sakach. The couple from Orange County, California, recalled the panic and masses of people fleeing in fear but also the humanity of bystanders.
“We ended up in the MGM, and a couple was nice enough to buy us some drinks,” Akiyoshi said.
Then a rumor swept the crowd at the MGM of another shooter. It turned out to be false. But “all of a sudden a mass of people, probably a hundred people are running again,” Sakach said.
They sought refuge in a restaurant where “they were kind and gave us tablecloths to wear and food and everybody was so nice and kind.”
As they exited one of the hotels, Sakach spotted a penny and picked it up.
“You know, angels must have been looking out over us,” said Akiyoshi, whose late father always believed in picking up pennies for good luck.
Sakach said she handed the penny to Akiyoshi, and he said, “Thanks Dad.”