A young woman from Cork city who heard the shots and saw bloodied victims as events unfolded in Las Vegas on Sunday night has said what she saw “will haunt me forever”.
Aoife Kickham, from Frenches Villas, off Fairhill in Cork, said she and fiance Gavin were walking down the strip near the Mandalay Hotel when they heard “loud bangs like fireworks”.
The couple - in Las Vegas with eight family members and friends to celebrate Aoife’s 30th birthday - had decided against taking a bus down the strip.
“We kept walking not thinking anything of it,” Aoife told us, “but as we heard commotion behind us we saw everyone in the street running behind us shouting “Gun! Run!”
“We had no idea what was going on but we began to run. My parents, my aunt and uncle and Gavin’s mom were in the New York New York Irish pub and we decided to warn them so ran against the crowd to get to them.
“ My two friends were in a taxi on way home from shopping and I rang them to get dropped somewhere so we could all be together.”
A clearly shocked Aoife said:”What followed will haunt me forever.”
She said she and Gavin got to her family in the pub and then walked outside.
“There were ambulances and police cars everywhere. Already there were bodybags, people being carried on stretchers, public carrying injured on makeshift stretchers.”
Aoife and her family were shouted at to “Get back in!”
However, Aoife went to meet her friends who were now on the footbridge of the MGM Casino. People started screaming “Active shooter!”
“Everyone ran, pushed, shoved,” said Aoife. “I ended up in the kitchen of the Irish bar in the hotel. My mam and dad and mother-in-law where under tables. Everyone was screaming, running and crying.
“We had another friend in bed in the Luxor Hotel who was calling us, crying alone and watching the news which was (carrying live footage of the massacre).
“My two friends were on the footbridge between MGM and New York (hotels) when I ran up and told them run to me.
“There were people running coverd in blood. We were terrified and locked into the small pub in the New York New York hotel for a good 20 minutes when security came and shouted: “Go, go, go!” We were told to run out the side door and were left on the street. People scattered and we ran toward the strip where police told us run north down the strip as fast as possible.
“We ran all the way to the Cosmopoliton Hotel where we were locked in, and the hotel was put on lockdown. We were kept there until 6am.”
’The streets and pathways were covered in blood’
Aoife said the family did not know exactly what had happened, and at this stage had no idea at the scale of the event (59 were killed and more than 500 injured).
“The people in this hotel were acting like nothing was going on - gambling, drinking champagne etc. We just sat on the floor in shock.
“We were given water and an announcement came on telling us we were safe and on lockdown. At 6am staff told us the hotels were out of lockdown and we tried to get back to our hotel. The roads surrounding were all closed so we had to walk.
“The streets and pathways were covered in blood. Police were everywhere asking where we were going and what were we doing. We got back to our hotel for 7.30am time and turned on the news.”
Chillingly, Aoife said that if she and Gavin had waited at the bus stop as they had originally intended, they would have been in Stephen Paddock’s line of fire.
Today, Aoife said “there is an awful feeling around”, and many members of their group were still too afraid to venture outside. They are due back home to Cork tomorrow.