LAS VEGAS, NEVADA (WAFB) - Several Baton Rouge tourists were swept up in the chaotic aftermath of Sunday night's deadly mass shooting on the Las Vegas strip.
Moments after checking into the Mandalay Bay Casino Hotel, Walker couple, Cavin and Jennifer O'Quin, found themselves huddling behind a pole outside the hotel's valet area. They had come downstairs to get something to eat when the shooting began. They ran along with a frightened crowd outside the hotel, trying to find safety as Cavin streamed live to Facebook.
"There were people with blood all over their shirts. We heard horrific stories," said Jennifer. "I've never seen so many police cars and so many men heavily armed, running. Hundreds of ambulances. It's the most terrifying thing we've ever seen."
As gunfire erupted at the concert, Baton Rouge wedding planner, Allie Wester, was passing by the venue on an airport shuttle bus headed to her hotel nearby. As Wester was filming a Snapchat video of their ride, she says the driver began to "drive furiously," quickly moving away from the concert venue and the Mandalay Hotel.
Wester later realized he was driving to avoid the shooting when she heard what she describes as "machine gunfire" on the videos she captured while on the shuttle. When they were dropped off at the Paris Hotel they were told they "were so lucky."
Wester says she and her friends were told of a shooting at Mandalay Bay, but weren't given any details when they checked in at the Paris Hotel. She and a friend left the hotel to search for a restaurant on the Vegas strip when she describes hundreds of people running towards her and screaming "active shooter."
They ran back into the Paris Hotel and hid with about 20 people in a convenience area of the hotel as other people began to run into the hotel from the strip. "At that point, I was literally scared for my life," she said. "I thought, 'Oh my gosh this is real.'"
The group left the convenience area and hotel staff then directed the group towards the hotel's basement at and then back onto the Vegas strip. It was at that time she began to share what was happening on Facebook LIVE. Wester had an uneasy feeling about going back on the street, so she followed a group of hotel staff into an elevator that went down to an employee parking lot.
Wester hid with a family, crouching down between two trucks for about three hours. During that time, she was texting with friends and relatives to determine what was going on. A friend who stayed in her room said the hotel's alarm kept going off and kept announcing that it was under lockdown and for guests to stay in their rooms.
Meanwhile, the O'Quins say they were stranded on the streets of Las Vegas, unable to return to their hotel. They say everything on the strip was locked down. Eventually, they say Good Samaritans drove by and handed out bottles of water and food and a woman offered them a ride to another hotel until they could return to the Mandalay Bay.
"It was terrifying for us, but it could have been much worse. Our hearts go out to all the people at the concert and all their families who woke up to total devastation," said Jennifer.
Wester was not allowed back into her room around 4:30 a.m. M.T. Monday. She is shaken up after the experience she describes as surreal, and hours later, is now starting to grasp the gravity of narrowly escaping the gunfire near the music festival. She's thankful her group made it out safely and is praying for those affected by the shooting.
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