Shocked and saddened by a horrific night in Las Vegas

2 October 2017

Seen here on a recent, pleasant summer night, the Las Vegas Strip was a chaotic scene on Sunday night following a mass shooting at Mandalay Bay.

Seen here on a recent, pleasant summer night, the Las Vegas Strip was a chaotic scene on Sunday night following a mass shooting at Mandalay Bay.

LAS VEGAS – It was a typical night on a typical business trip to Las Vegas. A nice dinner with colleagues. A little gambling. Drinks and a lot of laughs.

But as our group sat at the center bar of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino on Sunday night to kick off a busy week at the annual Global Gaming Expo (G2E), an unimaginable tragedy was taking place less than three miles away at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. A hateful coward was spraying bullets at a crowd of 20,000 people during a country music festival. It would end up becoming the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, with nearly 60 innocent souls dead.

All of that, of course, wasn't immediately clear to those of us on the crowded casino floor inside the Rio, which is located about one mile off the main Strip. Word started to slowly make it around that there was an active shooting incident taking place at Mandalay Bay, but details were sketchy. Most people, including myself, started checking their phones for particulars. Social media was blowing up. Finally, all the TVs at the bar were switched from ESPN to live news, stopping most everyone in their tracks. The gruesome videos of the shooting sent shockwaves through the entire casino.

Everyone was thinking and asking the same questions. Has the shooter been captured? Are we safe here? Should we fear that there will be more random shootings in other casinos?

Nobody had answers. There was a collective sense of helplessness among all of us.

Since it was after 1 a.m. back home on the east coast, I quickly began texting family, friends and colleagues not with us on the trip. It was a sick, surreal feeling as I pecked the words into my iPhone and pressed send.

"When you wake up, you are going to hear about a mass shooting in Las Vegas. I am fine. Wasn't near the shooting, thankfully."

As the number of deaths surged from an original report of two casualties to 20, the reality of the situation started to sink in. Hours passed until it was made clear that it was safe for us to leave. A quick Lyft ride back to our hotel that usually would be about five minutes took nearly 40 minutes. Certain streets were still closed, and you could feel the confusion among everyone out on the road.

It was just after 3 a.m. when I finally got back to my hotel room at the Tuscany Suites. Day was breaking back home and I started to receive texts from friends who were waking up to the horrific news.

Exhausted, I sat in front of my TV in disbelief.

Four hours later I woke up to see my iPhone lighting up with even more texts from concerned friends and loved ones. My stomach sank when I saw on the news that the death toll was now more than 50, with 500 others injured.

Like most everyone else in Las Vegas, my colleagues and I tried to go about our normal routine on Monday. We received word that G2E would go on as scheduled. The ride to the Sands Expo Center was quiet. Upon arrival, as we set up our booth, you could feel the angst and sadness in the air. When you made eye contact with a stranger, there was a mutual look of reassurance.

Everybody, it seemed, needed a good, long hug.

The rest of the week will be strange, for sure. There is business to be done, a tradeshow floor to scour, and networking parties and client dinners to attend. But it won't be easy for any of us to concentrate on the task at hand.

I am not from Las Vegas, but I've spent a good chunk of time here over the last decade, both for business and pleasure. I have a connection to this city. It's a place I thoroughly enjoy visiting and am happy to say is an important part of my job.

But it will be impossible to come back in the future without thinking about what has transpired over the last 24 hours. It will be difficult to put behind the images of those cell phone videos from the concert and the sinking feeling in my stomach right now.

"This is going to change Las Vegas as we know it," our Lyft driver said to us this morning. "This city will never be the same."

So, today I pray for Las Vegas, its people and the friends I have made here. I pray for the victims and their families. I pray that those who are injured survive. And I pray that this vibrant, exhilarating city can someday recover from this tragedy.

Related Links
American Gambling
Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2017
Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino Details
Casino City Press Gaming Vendor Information
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino Details