I found myself inside the Mandalay Bay
Through a series of events, I found myself inside the Mandalay Bay the night Stephen Paddock enacted his 10-minute reign of terror, killing 59 people and injuring over 500. I started out the night just nine floors above him at a private charity event, but around 9:30 I’d moved downstairs to play poker.
The night was going great, until I sensed something was suddenly wrong. I looked across the casino to see people starting to run, but as the fear spread across the floor our table stayed calm. I was sure that it was just a false alarm, one of those situations where information was miscommunicated and group panic set in. The unease was hard to avoid for long though, and as we all began to tense up a casino manager came running over to us. It felt surreal, hearing him tell us “there’s a shooter in the Mandalay Bay, you need to get out of here!” It was like operating on autopilot after that, we booked it out of the casino and found ourselves in a staff hallway. My concept of time felt distorted, but we spent about 45 minutes in that hallway. We had no information. We were being protected by two Mandalay Bay security guards, who were blocking off the motion sensors and trying to cover the doorways.
The belief inside the hotel at the time was that there was a shooter, possibly more than one, inside the hotel. We had no idea he was firing from a window. Some of the people in the hall with us had been keeping the mood light, but as we all watched things unfold on Twitter, desperate for information, everyone went quiet. Social media is a blessing and a curse in serious emergencies. I learned that first hand. There was constant information coming at us, but even the media wasn’t sure what was going on at the time. I saw SWAT teams rushing by. Somebody said that they heard there were bombs planted in the hotel. We began to feel trapped in the hallway. We kept waiting for this thing to blow up or something.
Finally, we were moved to the hotel’s gym, where we could watch the news. People going to the bathroom had to be escorted by police. They moved us again, this time to an employee cafeteria. It was there that we learned the shooting had come from the hotel.
My experience in that cafeteria was where I first started to see people at their best. Everyone in that room was looking out for each other. We were given blankets and food. Those who were upset were comforted by strangers. Some tried to sleep, but I couldn’t.
Mandalay Bay Cafeteria
Sending videos and text’s to loved ones letting them know we were alright!
We weren’t released until 9 am that morning, spaced out in small groups. We were led through the empty hotel. The only people we saw were police. There was an incredibly heavy feeling in the air. Emerging from the hotel we were greeted with a ghost town. The strip was empty.
This was a place that was always bustling. Now? Nothing. You could see where cars had been left behind as people got out and just ran. The entire area was a crime scene, so we couldn’t get find taxis or Ubers. We ended up going to the Luxor Hotel, which was nearby, and the entire atmosphere had been transformed by what was happening. There were people lying on benches crying and holding each other, and as we passed through the casino there wasn’t a dealer to be found at the card tables. Imagine walking into a Las Vegas casino and seeing no dealers at the table, nobody at the slots, just a heavy quiet all across the room. It was like an alternate universe.
There was so much to unpack from that night, and as I tried to rest back in my hotel room it was all I could think about. It’s an often-repeated thing, but you never really think something can happen to you until it does. I don’t know how to explain it, but I do know that somehow I was meant to be there. I thought back to other recent events, like the terrorist attack on Pulse nightclub a year ago. There is always so much intense focus right after something happens, but the media is fickle. The tide shifts. We start to forget, until the next thing happens. It repeats. Our tendency to forget is why we aren’t changing. History seems to always repeat itself, and the reason for that is because we are so short-sighted. It allows us to be shocked every single time something like this happens. If we don’t change our perspective nothing will ever improve.
I started the Global Compassion Movement a year and a half ago, and I’ve been planning the Compassion World Tour ever since. Being a witness to the Mandalay Bay has only furthered my drive to reunite people around the world. I want to tell the stories of people affected not just by this, but by so many other tragedies. The Compassion World Tour is my vehicle for keeping people’s memories fresh. I won’t let people forget. These events will not be small, each stop on the tour will host 4,000 to 6,000 people and live stream to 24 different countries. Las Vegas will now be one of the stops on our tour. It’s my mission now to unite people more than ever, we cannot leave this world without making it a better place for the next generation. We cannot hide from these cowardly acts of hatred. I believe there are more good people in the world than evil ones, but I also believe that good people cannot be effective unless they unite together.
Instagram: Actions Of Compassion
In the end, I was incredibly lucky. I was in the hotel, not in the war zone that was the concert grounds. I want to send my love and prayers to the victims and families, as well as those still healing in the hospital. Your lives have been forever changed. I’ve included a link that lists every victims’ name. We cannot forget them.
It’s easy to go on with our lives when we think it won’t happen to us, and it’s somewhat impossible to truly understand the enormity of an event like this without experiencing it. For me, to have been so close to the worst mass shooting in US history made me realize that the world is a changing place. We’re all at a greater risk, but if we unite to combat these greater threats we can make a difference. Join me in making a difference and participle in our Actions of Compassion movement.