'Everybody was screaming': 2 Manitobans hit by bullets in Las Vegas mass shooting
Jody Ansell tried to flag down a vehicle for help but no one stopped until she stood in the middle of the road
Two Manitoba women are in a Las Vegas hospital after being shot Sunday night in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
At least 58 people, including a 23-year-old man from B.C. and a 34-year-old woman from Alberta, were killed and more than 500 others were sent to hospital.
Jody Ansell and Jan Lambourne were among thousands of people at an outdoor country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip when they were shot by a gunman firing from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
"I got shot in my right arm and I was bleeding quite badly," said Ansell, who is from Stonewall.
Lambourne was shot in the stomach and dropped in front of her, she said. A few seconds later, Ansell felt the stinging pain of being shot herself.
She ran and tried to flag down a vehicle for help, but no one would stop until she stood in the middle of the road.
Lambourne was scheduled for surgery Monday and in stable condition, said Ansell, who described the scene at the festival site as complete and utter chaos.
"Everybody was screaming. It was just a horrible, horrible, horrible situation," she said, noting the shots seemed to go on forever.
"It was like thump, thump, thump, thump, thump and everybody was just like, 'What the heck was that?' And then after a pause it started again and again and again. It was just unreal.
"Everyone was running and stampeding like cattle and I just had it in my head that I needed to get out of there — I needed to see my kids again. I seriously didn't focus on nothing but getting out to go back to my family. That's all I had in my head is 'I need to get home.'"
In the pandemonium, Ansell lost her cellphone and couldn't immediately call her family to let them know how she was doing. She borrowed phones from other people to make contact and finally posted a message on Facebook.
She told CBC News, through tears, that she wants friends and family to know she is OK and "can't wait to get home."
Scans taken at the hospital show the bullet had an entry and exit point in her arm, which means it passed right through and she doesn't need major surgery. X-rays show there are no breaks to any bones.
"It was definitely a very traumatic experience and my heart goes out to all the victims," Ansell said, breaking into sobs.
She and her husband have been working on a pipeline project in British Columbia for the past eight months.
Ansell flew to Winnipeg to meet up with Lambourne and head to Vegas.
Ansell was set to fly back to Vancouver on Monday and go back to work. Instead, her husband is flying to Vegas to get her and take her home to Stonewall.
The Route 91 Harvest music festival was taking place in an outdoor area known as Las Vegas Village, across the strip from the Mandalay Bay and Luxor hotels.
Ansell went to Vegas specifically for the festival — her third straight year attending it — and was staying on the 14th floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
Her belongings are still there.
"I'm still in shock. I don't really want to go back there, but I guess I have to, to get my stuff," she said.
Authorities identified the person believed to be the gunman in Sunday night's shooting as Stephen Paddock, 64.
Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said officers rushed to Paddock's suite but he "killed himself prior to our entry."
He said authorities believe it was a "lone wolf" attack.
'It just becomes surreal'
Kevin McIntyre, 31, and his wife were leaving a drugstore roughly 600 metres from the concert site when they saw a group of people heading in the opposite direction and were told there had been a shooting. The Winnipeg couple had arrived in the city roughly three hours earlier to celebrate the 30th birthday of his wife, who is three months pregnant.
"We saw a bunch of cops racing that way, so we didn't really know what was happening, but we figured it was probably just a one-off shooting," McIntyre told CBC News on Monday.
They continued walking toward their hotel, about 200 metres from the concert grounds, but security guards on the street ushered them into a nearby Coca-Cola store, he said.
That's when they heard what they thought was the sound of a helicopter propeller. Now, McIntyre believes it was gunfire.
"It sounded like a mix of, like, kind of a lower-grade firework and almost, like, helicopter propellers. But then, the police helicopter was already in the air, so it wouldn't make sense that we could hear it. So it sounded just like, 'pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,'" he said. "Kind of like quick bangs, but just, like, tons of them."
On lock down in the Coca-Cola store, McIntyre said he started checking his phone, trying to learn what was going on outside.
"I mean, it was a little strange," he said. "They were really, really good at the Coca-Cola store though. They were handing out drinks and stuff like that, making sure everyone was calm [and] walking around telling people the updates. I don't think anyone realize how insane the shooting was when we were in there."
They were on lock down in the store for about 20 minutes before guards told them they could leave, but with caution, McIntyre said. As they walked to their hotel, concert-goers ran past them in the street, he said, and many were in the lobby of their hotel when they arrived, some covered in blood.
At first, McIntyre said the gravity of the situation wasn't clear.
"At the beginning, just people saying, 'Ah, it's just another shooting on the Strip,' that kind of stuff. And then once all the info started coming out, people were really starting to panic and stuff like that. People were like, 'Holy crap ... this is nuts,'" he said. "When you find out it's a mass shooting … and you realize what you heard was automatic weapons going off, it just becomes surreal."
Panic erupted in the hotel lobby when someone yelled "Shooter," McIntyre said, apparently under the impression the shooter was in the building.
"Everyone just started bolting towards the elevators. We made it to an elevator and so many people got in that we couldn't even go up the elevator, so people were just, like, panicking in an elevator. It was kind of like chaos," he said.
"Eventually, the doors opened again, a couple people got out and we got to our room. And that's when we started watching the news and seeing what was actually going on."
The couple was supposed to stay until Thursday, but McIntyre said they're ready to go home earlier if they can.
"You don't really feel like celebrating after something like this happens," he said.
Police will learn from Las Vegas
Gord Perrier, deputy chief of operations for the Winnipeg Police Service, expressed "thoughts and sympathies" for the victims in Vegas and said the WPS will look to the incident for "learning opportunities."
Anytime something like the Vegas attack happens, police agencies use it to examine their own protocols.
"No commander, no police service or health agency, for that matter, looks at an event after that and says 'Everything went perfectly, there's nothing here that we can learn, there's no gaps,'" Perrier said.
"There's always things that we'll change and contemplate and move forward with."
For a number of years, the WPS has been preparing through training, equipment and consultation with other police and government agencies to deal with large-scale events, he said.
Police have done training exercises at Investors Group Field, where the CFL's Blue Bombers play, and at Bell MTS Place where the NHL's Jets play, Perrier said.
In the wake of the 2016 mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub, the WPS brought in officers and health officials that city to talk about how the incident was handled.
"They met with our command team, and our operations team, and our tactical teams to go through what occurred there — what happened, what went well, what didn't go well," Perrier said, adding it helped the WPS with their own approach to major events.
It's something that is becoming much more common and necessary, he said.
"Active-shooter events, or bombings or tragedies such as that, have happened around the globe and certainly with more frequency in the western world than we've seen in many years," Perrier said, adding, "I think there's going to be a lot more emphasis on public events by everybody involved, particularly venue organizers" after Sunday's shooting.
Mobile barricades coming to Winnipeg
The WPS will soon begin implementing some new security measures in response to the recent trend of people using vehicles in terrorist acts.
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"We expect to introduce some new products, probably this year. There'll be mobile barricades to assist police in blocking areas so there is no vehicle access where we don't want vehicle access," Perrier said.
"Often, things need to be moveable and there are some products we've explored."
The balance between accessibility and security is the challenge and it's getting more difficult to put in place, he said.
Perrier wouldn't go into more detail on "tactical things or operational things" being adopted by the police service because he didn't want to reveal too much.
"People that often perpetrate these acts do their research as well," he said.
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