Ashley Barden loves country music. This weekend was her second year attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. Shortly before the final performer took the stage, she and her friends agreed they’d be back again next year.
Then a man began firing into the crowd from the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino nearby, and everything changed.
“You never think you’re going to be in a place like that, and when it happens, it’s like hell,” Barden said.
“We heard two rounds, and we didn’t really know what it was. And then we saw Jason Aldean run off the stage, and everybody yelled, ‘Run, somebody’s shooting,’” she said.
By the time the attack ended, at least 59 people were dead and 527 were injured, according to law enforcement.
Barden, 36, grew up in Prineville, Oregon, and graduated from Oregon State University in 2006. She now lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.
She is among a handful of Pacific Northwest residents and people with local ties who have posted messages to Facebook reassuring friends and family that they survived the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Barden told OPB the situation at the music festival quickly turned chaotic.
“I saw people falling and getting trampled. We didn’t know the shooter was shooting from above. We thought he was in the venue. And so everybody was laying down,” she said. “People were running over the people who were laying on the ground. It was really scary.”
Barden — who was one of the thousands of people from across the country at the festival on the Las Vegas Strip — said she’s lucky she wasn’t trampled.
She and her friends had been standing in the middle of the crowd near the stage during the previous performance. A few minutes before the shooting, they’d stepped to the edge of the crowd to chat. She was able to escape quickly, without major injury.
“We just ran fast and we scaled fences. Adrenaline took over. We could hear gunshots for probably 20 minutes after. It just kept going on and on and on,” she said.
Of the musicians performing at the festival, at least one has Northwest roots. Singer-songwriter Adam Craig — originally from Tenino, Washington — was scheduled to perform at the venue’s second stage Sunday evening.
Craig’s team did not immediately respond to an inquiry regarding his condition.
National news outlets have started identifying some of the 59 victims who did not survive the shooting, though in some cases without official confirmation from law enforcement.
Those reportedly killed include a nurse from Tennessee, a special-education teacher from California, a high school secretary from New Mexico and an off-duty Las Vegas police officer.
Canadian media reports that two Canadians were killed, a mother of four from Alberta and a 23-year-old man from British Columbia.
The City of Las Vegas phone number for people looking for loved ones following Sunday night’s shooting is 1-866-535-5654.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Ashley Barden.