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Living Near the Site of the Mass Shooting in Las Vegas

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Kathy is a freelance writer for Textbroker, Verblio, and Constant Content and published author in Neon Rainbow Magazine.

It Has Been Nice Las Vegas, but It May Be Time to Move On...

An overview of the strip area, including Mandalay Bay, the site of the shooting

An overview of the strip area, including Mandalay Bay, the site of the shooting

A Lot of Confusing Emotions, Thoughts and Observations...

So, I keep getting asked, what is it like living so close to where the massacre at Mandalay Bay took place here in Las Vegas the night of October 1, 2017? Technically, we are just over 10 miles away from Mandalay Bay. We've lived here for over 7 years now, and up until now we've considered it to be an adventure. Now I'm not sure what to call it.

We were awakened around 11:30 pm by my phone ringing first, and then my husband's phone. I thought, someone is really trying to get a hold of us! About the same time, we were getting text messages. We have twin sons who both live in Wisconsin and it turns out that they both were trying to get a hold of us at the same time to be sure we were ok?

Talk about feeling confused! You know how it is when you've been asleep for about 1 1/2 hours and you try to pick up the phone and almost drop it? Yeah, that's the feeling. I woke up to a text message that said "just wanted to check and make sure you guys weren't at Mandalay Bay where that shooting happened late tonight." Then he writes "There was a shooting at Mandalay Bay at the country music festival, at least 2 people are dead and 24 injured."

My reply was "Holy crap! Really?" I'm poetic like that! Especially when I've just been jarred into wakefulness!

He knew that we sometimes go to Mandalay Bay for events similar to this one. Fortunately, it was a Sunday night and my husband had to get up at 5 am for work on Monday morning, so we were both home and asleep. "There but for the grace of God go I."

A Photo Taken in April of 2013

Photo of Mandalay Bay taken in April of 2013 from the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign.

Photo of Mandalay Bay taken in April of 2013 from the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign.

Now I Was Completely Awake!

Now he had my full attention. After getting out of bed and texting for a few minutes, I wanted to know more about what was going on. I searched for any kind of news I could find and it wasn't much since it had only happened an hour earlier. I got on Facebook to check,and they had set up a way to let people know you were safe. I did that hoping we wouldn't get more calls and text messages. I was trying to let my husband sleep through all of this, and he did!

The footage I was seeing was horrific. I found YouTube videos that were disturbing and a bit too close for comfort. Hearing that horrendous gun fire that sounded to me like machine guns was hard to believe. It felt like I was in a horrible dream with no way out. Only it wasn't a dream.

We've been to Mandalay Bay many times in our seven years here. We go to House of Blues for concerts, and to concerts held at the indoor concert venue there. We even saw Maroon Five on New Years Eve one year. We go for the Barrett Jackson car auction and car show, and for concerts at Mizuya Lounge by one of our favorite local bands, a classic rock tribute band called Phoenix.

My feeling about Mandalay Bay right now? Never again.

Fitful Sleep When I was Able to Sleep...

After several hours of watching videos and catching news reports that were popping up with increasing death tolls, it finally came up that the shooter was dead. There were so many unanswered questions, and even now almost three days away from the shooting, there are still unanswered questions.

I tried to go back to sleep about 3:00 am, but once I did drift off, sleep came in fits and starts. Restlessness, and awakening about every hour to check my phone again for more news as the death toll kept climbing throughout the night seemed to be the pattern.

I heard my husband get up around 5 am and I knew he would check his phone shortly after waking up. I knew if I got up and started talking to him about it, the day would be wasted because of no sleep. And I had writing work to do! I do freelance writing work from home.

I finally drifted off again around 5:30 am and got up for the day at 7:30. Too many news stories, messages from friends and loved ones kept me from getting much done throughout the day on Monday.

Everything seemed to either irritate, annoy or simply bother me. I was listening to a local classic rock station. They played "Let's Get Crazy, let's get nuts" by Prince. Really? After last night?? Then shortly after that it was "You've been hit by.. bang bang... you've been struck by a smooth criminal" by Michael Jackson. Doesn't anyone think about what songs they're playing? But I knew deep down that this playlist was probably pre-determined long before this incident, so I couldn't fault the radio station really. Besides, I thought, maybe I'm just being too sensitive.

My world felt as if it as been shaken up and forever changed. I couldn't even look at the community I live in the same way any more. Three days out, my feelings still haven't changed much. Imagine waking up in the morning to news like this... in the town that you are calling home. Trying to go to the grocery store took a forced effort. It was like I didn't want to be around anyone else for a while.

Thinking of Moving Anyway...

Since we've been here for over seven years and are now closer to retirement age, we had been tossing around the idea of moving back to Wisconsin anyway. Our plan (know the saying about how God laughs at our plans?) was to move next spring - around April or May.

With gentle, sweet inquiries and nudges from our son and from his wife, it looks as if we may be moving back up there sooner than we originally planned. If we can get everything to work out. Moving across the country is a lot of work, as we found out when we moved here seven years ago. It doesn't just happen overnight.

What Will Happen to Mandalay Bay and This Town?

Last night my husband and I were tossing around ideas about things that may happen in the future, both to Mandalay Bay and to this town as a whole. First, I believe security will be increased. Perhaps they'll start making people check their bags when they enter a hotel and deliver the bags to their room after they are x-rayed and security checked. My husband works with a guy from the Philippines and was told that they do that now at some hotels in the Philippines as a security precaution.

I wondered what they might do about windows that can be smashed out with a hammer? Will they try to put an alarm system in so that if a window is smashed an alarm sounds? And would that have even made a difference in this case? Maybe. Or, like my husband suggested, will they cover windows with a film to make the windows unbreakable or at least a lot harder to break now?

What about the shooting site itself? There is absolutely no way I can imagine them having an outdoor concert there ever again, or any outdoor event for that matter. I believe that like the sites of the Oklahoma City bombing and September 11th in New York City, this site may be turned into some type of memorial. And maybe even more interesting, will it be haunted?? At least 58 people lost their lives there suddenly and violently. I guess they included the gunman in the tally of 59 lives lost.

When the rapper Tupac Shakur was killed here in Vegas, there have been reported sightings ever since of a shadowy figure at bus stops and along the street where it took place, and he is wearing a hoody pulled over his head. People swear it is his ghost. If you believe in that sort of thing.

What will happen to room 32135? From what I've read, it's a large, suite style room where the shooter broke out two windows to commit this carnage. What will happen to the entire 32nd floor of the hotel? I cannot imagine anyone ever wanting to set foot there again, unless they are extremely curious and want to do that for gawking purposes. Will this room, the 32nd floor, and maybe the entire hotel become haunted by a restless, vile spirit? If you believe in that sort of thing. These are some questions to ponder.

An Event we Attended at the Shooting Site

The site of the shooting. We had attended a sporting event on May 22nd of 2015, including a show by Dock Dogs, a canine aquatic competition team.

The site of the shooting. We had attended a sporting event on May 22nd of 2015, including a show by Dock Dogs, a canine aquatic competition team.

One of the "Dock Dogs" performing in a canine aquatic competition. These dogs were amazing!

One of the "Dock Dogs" performing in a canine aquatic competition. These dogs were amazing!

Something to Be Said for Boring Places...

At one time we might have thought that the town we came from in Wisconsin was a boring place. Now we're reconsidering that.

Sure we've had some really good times here in Las Vegas. We originally moved here for my husband's job. He quit that after four years and is now working another job. We've been to a LOT of concerts, mostly classic rock shows but some country ones thrown in as well, and shows by magicians and comedians.

We've been to many of the shows at Caesar's Palace, including Elton John, Rod Stewart, Celine Dion, Shania Twain and others. We've seen the entertainer that played at the first concert I ever attended... Donny Osmond (and Marie). We've seen Jimmy Buffett, the Eagles when Glenn Frey was still with us, Maroon 5, George Strait, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie with Lindsey Buckingham, and so many that I would have trouble listing them all.

We've been to see famous magicians like David Copperfield and lesser known magicians, tribute band concerts, Cirque du Soleil shows including Beatles Love and "O" at Bellagio, and comedians like Carrot Top. We've considered ourselves blessed to have these opportunities.

But now as we begin to go into our retirement years, things like watching a rabbit hop across the yard are looking more appealing. Being close to our sons, their families and three beautiful grandchildren will be another huge blessing.

They are saying phrases like Vegas Strong now, and that's great. Right now, though, safety is beginning to look at lot more appealing to me than being strong in a town that hopefully will never see another catastrophic event like the massacre on October 1, 2017.

I know that there is no place that is completely safe. I do know that. It's just that, honestly? I don't think we'll be too terribly bored doing simple things like watching Netflix, going to ball games with our little grandkids, and watching them grow up to be terrific adults. And we'll have a chance to help shape them into great adults. I hope that we'll also have more peace of mind than we do here right now.

© 2017 KathyH

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