Fifth Judicial District Judge William Shoobridge heard gunshots Sunday night as he and his wife Cindy, local real estate broker, were climbing into their bed in Las Vegas.
They didn’t know until Monday morning, the judge’s birthday, that 59 people had died and more than 500 more were injured in the nation’s worst mass shooting in recent history.
“We were actually just going to bed when I heard a lot of noise outside,” Shoobridge said on Monday. “At first, I thought it was fireworks, then it just kept going. Then I thought maybe it was a helicopter because it kept going with the same noise. It sounded like helicopter rotary blades to me. It kept going for maybe 10 minutes or so. It’s a real tragedy.”
The Associated Press reported Monday at least 58 people attending an outdoor country-western concert died and more than 500 others were injured when a sniper on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino fired on the crowd of about 22,000.
Police reported the shooter, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nev., turned a gun on himself before they broke into his hotel room where they found at least 10 guns.
Cindy began receiving text messages from friends and family on Monday morning leading her to decide to post on social media that she and her husband were uninjured. They were staying at the Mirage Hotel and Casino, about two miles north of the Mandalay.
“I posted on Facebook so our family and friends wouldn’t worry about us. We got here (Sunday), about 5 o’clock,” she said. “We were not at the concert, thankfully. We decided to return to our room early, because we’re usually out and about. You could hear a lot of gunshots and helicopters even in our hotel room, so we knew something was going on. Then we saw on TV what happened.”
The couple noted a strange silence in the nation’s party town on Monday.
“Everybody’s a little nervous and so sad for the people that lost their lives and the ones that are hurt,” Cindy said. “Las Vegas is supposed to be the city with no worries, but you can tell people are stressed. Everybody is a little quieter, more prayerful and more thankful. It’s kind of scary.” They both mentioned a heavy police presence throughout Las Vegas.
“There’s police presence everywhere you go. On the corners, you see the sheriff’s department or the Las Vegas Police,” Judge Shoobridge said. “There’s a different feeling about Las Vegas this morning than there was before this happened.” “There’s police practically at every casino and on the side streets, which is just unusual,” Cindy added. “I think they’re just trying to assure everybody that they’ve got everything under control.”
They also expressed alarm that many visitors in Las Vegas were leaving.
“When we got up this morning (Monday), there were people checking out,” Cindy said. “They were just distraught and want to go home to their family.”
Meanwhile, Jason Watkins, former Hobbs News-Sun sports editor who has lived in Las Vegas about eight years, said he and his wife were at another concert on the Strip more than a mile north of the shootings, but he feels the depression and anger.
“It’s sad, man,” he said. “It’s hitting everybody pretty hard around here. … It kind of makes you want to cry and it makes you really angry that someone would do something like that.”
Watkins made the point that Las Vegans have pitched in, giving the example that calls for blood donations resulted in long lines immediately. With two local blood banks, he said the wait to give blood on Monday was 7-8 hours.
“Obviously everybody is shocked and don’t know what to do,” he said, “but everybody is stepping up and doing what they can. I’m pretty impressed by it.”
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of anyone who was injured or killed, and of course anyone affected traumatically, having their lives put on the precipice of ending,” Judge Shoobridge concluded.
The Associated Press reported Las Vegas police are still investigating the motive for the shootings while attempting to identify all the victims.