Dozens of attendees at Sunday night’s country music festival in Las Vegas, which was targeted in the deadliest shooting in modern US history, took refuge in a freezer as 59 people were killed and at least 527 others were injured outside.
Bryan Hopkins, a musical artist, told CNN that after he watched two men in front of him and two women behind him fall to the ground after being hit by bullets, he grabbed the hands of two women next to him and started running.
“The guy in front of us, about 10 feet up, goes down, the guy to the right of him about three feet over goes down,” Hopkins said. “I grab the two girls in front of me, I just grab their hands, and instead of running towards the crowd, I took off to the right.”
Hopkins said that all he could hear was the sound of “constant” gunfire as he and a group of others ran past an area where caterers had set up their equipment.
“We just hit this wall, so we see an ice chest – it’s a trailer – and we open up the doors and just start helping people up inside this trailer, which happened to be a freezer,” he said. “There must have been, I don’t know, 23 to 30 of us inside this freezer.”
But Hopkins said he worried that the group wasn’t safe.
“I turned to a couple of the guys that are in there behind me and said, ‘We gotta leave. If there’s people running around with guns, they’re gonna find us,'” he said.
Hopkins waited until there was a break in the gunfire and then helped others leave the trailer and climb a fence.
“The thing I’ll always remember is a police officer who ran toward me and said, ‘This way,’ pointed to where to run, and then ran towards the gunfire,” Hopkins said.
The shooter, whom police have identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, using the elevated vantage point to fire into the crowds across the Las Vegas Strip at the Route 91 Harvest festival.
Soon after the shooting, which began at 10:08 p.m. PDT, a SWAT team stormed the building, forced their way into his hotel room, and found the gunman already dead. Officers believe he was the only attacker, and that he killed himself before they arrived.
Police discovered at least 10 rifles in Paddock’s hotel room, which he checked into on Thursday.