Editor’s Note: The following piece was posted by Carson City resident Scott Moreland to Facebook. The Nevada Appeal is leaving it unedited as it is Moreland’s take on Sunday’s events in Las Vegas. Since then Moreland has learned the name of the firefighter and is of the understanding that the heroic efforts of the off-duty Los Angeles Fire Department member’s will be recognized.
Yes, friends, Ruth Griffith Moreland and I were in the middle of it all at the Route 91 Harvestfest Mass Shooting. I have seen and heard too much. Too much absolute bullcrap. So, here is my eyewitness report. This is raw and emotional and will explain what happened, what we did and what we’re feeling.
First, we are alive. I’m not sure how and I certainly don’t know why. We still have each other and will be okay after a time. It was the third night of the festival. The closing act was had just started. There was a loud prolonged crackling. Half the crowd thought fireworks, half thought sound system malfunction. The second burst people started figuring out that a machine gun was firing into the crowd of over 20,000 people. Panic and chaos ruled. There were very few exits and people ran for them, falling from gunshot wounds and many getting trampled in the process. Ruth and I were at the back of the venue in the small bleachers at the very end. Instead of running, knowing Ruth is petite and would get trampled, I grabbed her and we laid down on the bleachers behind the seats. Keep in mind, no one...NO ONE knew what what was happening, where the shots were coming from, how many attackers. Nothing, just widespread panic. The only good news is that Ruth didn’t realize that bullets were pinging all around us. We stayed down on the bleachers, holding hands and telling each other “I love you” many times, for around ten minutes. When there was a short break in the firing, I grabbed Ruth and we jumped down and dove underneath the bleachers. As we moved, Ruth was focused on where we were going and I looked out at the carnage. Words will never come to me to describe what I saw. We got under the bleachers and the shooting started again.
A younger mid-twenties (you’ll see why that’s important later) dove in next to us. These two were fairly calm. The young man was a Los Angeles Fireman. He kept saying he had to get back out there and help. Ruth and I took charge of his girlfriend and guaranteed him that we would take care of her and make sure she stayed safe. Two very emotional women dove in with us. We laid under the bleachers, holding hands, whispering our love while comforting the other three women. This brave young man’s name is Michael. That’s all I know. He went back out to assist with the wounded.
Being that we stayed in place and took cover rather than run, we were some of the very last to leave the venue. Police finally saw us under the bleachers and informed us it was “safe and time” to move and directed us to the Tropicana.
As we were running across the street and towards the door of the Trop, people were hiding in the parking structure yelling at us to get down, there another shooter and he’s right around the corner. Panic was the rule of law and Chaos was its leader. We finally moved inside the Trop and were locked down. But the panic didn’t stop. Every drop of a bag had people yelling “gun” and “shots” and people would run...to nowhere.
Eventually, the loudspeaker sounded and we were told that the Trop was safe, but completely under lockdown. All properties anywhere close were locked down as police tried to figure out an active shooting situation. As we were keeping the young lady with us under our care, she was on the phone talking to her parents and to Michael’s. She kept telling them that she was safe and that a nice “older” couple was taking care of her. Some humor in the midst of horror. Michael managed to return a few minutes after that, having helped with triage. He was now shirtless and beltless, having used both to try desperately to slow the bleeding he was dealing with of the injured he was helping.
We were corralled into the Trop’s convention area. Everyone had to be searched and their possessions searched as police were making sure that no one left was part of this horror. That’s when it finally got real to me. As I turned around for the officer to pat me down, he gently squeezed my shoulder and whispered in my ear, “Sir, I need to let you know that you have blood on your back.” Knowing I was okay, and knowing that Ruth was okay, I breathed a small sigh and realized that I have no idea whose blood was on me. Yes, that shirt is in the garbage. We ended up being locked down inside the Trop for around five hours. The Trop and its staff were fabulous. They distributed case after case of water to us, provided us with towels and sheets to use as blankets and pillows. Ruth and I realized we had minor cuts from diving around the concrete: scraped knees, cut up hands and ankles. A young man was walking around with bandaids. He told us he was a Trop kitchen worker just trying to help any way he could.
When we were finally let out of lockdown at 3:45 a.m., we realized we had to figure out how to get back to our hotel over three miles north of where we were. We discovered the entire strip had been shut down but, now, north of where we were was cleared. There were no cabs, no way to get uber. We decided to walk. I asked an officer if north was now okay to walk along the strip to get back to our hotel and he said it was. Still no cars on the entire strip, only police presence. We walked up the strip and it was completely eerie. Forty-five minutes of walking to get to our property and we saw maybe 15 people other than police. But make it we did.
This was the most horrific thing I have ever experienced. The situation was completely fluid since no one knew what was the real story. Rumors ran amok. Fear was everywhere. Death was all around us. Injuries were many (over 500) and those were just the ones who went to the hospital. There were thousands more that were minor. There are thousands more that will be emotional and psychological for a long time.
The Vegas first responders were amazing. The men and women who ran into the bullets while others were fleeing them to help were the bravest men and women I will ever meet. Jeans, boots and a T-shirt were their protection. But into the abyss they went. I wish I knew Michael’s last name. Thank you, young man. I am proud that I got the opportunity to meet you.
We are home now. We are alive. We are safe. We are forever changed.