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Kymberley Suchomel added 5 new photos.
October 4 at 9:12pm ·
I have been receiving phone calls, messages & texts galore since Sunday night, and I have been providing the same copy & pasted message to each of those who have contacted me. A really quick, vague, account of what happened at the Route 91 Festival in Las Vegas. It has been nearly 72 hours since the nightmare took place, and I am finally able to sit here & put into words my own personal account. I have attached some photos of the fun we did have.
I would first like to give a huge giant thank you to both Casie Barnard & Ricky Ardito, without them I can guarantee you I wouldn’t have gotten out like I did- I would have dropped to the floor, stunned, and I would not have been able to get up. I owe them both my life.
Sunday morning we woke up sore & hungover from the nights before. Friday & Saturday nights were a blast- we drank too much, and fought the crowd to get as close to the stage as possible. We acted like we were in our early 20s and hitting Vegas for the first time; however, when we woke up Sunday we all were in complete agreeance that we would not be doing that again. We decided, instead, to bring in a king sized sheet & sit on the astro-turf in the way, way back & just peacefully watch the concert from our spacious sheet. We also decided to drink the morning and afternoon of, but not the evening, as Ricky, Cassie & Mendy had an early day ahead of them, having to leave at 4am to get Ricky to work Monday morning. When we had full bellies & got our retail fix in-shopping the vendors, we headed to the main stage where we immediately sought out that back sitting area. Unfortunately, we procrastinated getting to our seats for too long, and every spot was taken. We ultimately ended up on the next fake-grass area much closer to the stage- but we still had a decent amount of space & great viewing area, so we spread out our sheet and claimed it our territory. We remember exactly where we were, because most of us (excluding myself) left to go to the bathroom & get water during the concert, so we used landmarks to be able to find each other again. I remember distinctly that one of the bars was to my left and I had to look behind me to see it- thinking maybe I should get one more beer, but I already had a full bladder & I have an irrational fear of porta-potties, so I decided against it.
We are all hanging out on this sheet, dancing our booties off, enjoying ourselves so much that we took off our boots to get even more comfortable. Casie & I were on opposite sides of our little 5-person group. I was on the far right side, and I had so much room to dance that this guy who walked by, who we called “camo man”, actually said to me “taking up a lot of real estate there, eh?” jokingly. After about 20 minutes of Jason Aldean’s set, I got this overwhelming feeling to go stand over by Casie. I can’t tell you why, but I did. The entire time I was dancing next to her I kept thinking to myself, “why? Why don’t I go back to my spacious area?? There is no room to dance over here.. I am not having a good time over here… okay, on the next song I will”. But, there wasn’t a next song.
From about 50 feet in front of us, and a little to the right, fire crackers were set off. Let me repeat that… FIRE CRACKERS WERE SET OFF. I verbally stated “some asshole just shot of fire crackers in close proximity to so many people”. I was literally pissed off. You could see Jason Aldean look to his left kind of startled by it, but he was also clearly irritated. I would say about 15 seconds later, the first volley of gunfire was released. It was a shorter volley than any of the others, and the gunfire was not as close together either. EVERYONE looked up, down, around. We thought it was more fire crackers at first, but then Ricky reached over, told us all to put our boots on, quickly. And the volley ended. Then people started to panic. The gentlemen behind me looked at me as I was putting on my boots, half laying down, and said “calm down crazy, its just fireworks, jeez”. That is when the 2nd volley went off, Ricky yelled at us all to get down, flat, & we immediately knew there was someone shooting at us. I remember getting down, but I didn’t lay flat for some reason, thinking- oh my gosh, I need to get flatter than I am now, but my body just wouldn’t let me. That was the 2nd volley. At the end of that volley ( I am still struggling to get my boots on), we turned and tried to run, but the people behind us still weren’t moving. I yelled at the lady “RUN! ITS GUNFIRE! RUUUUUUUUUNNNNN!!!” The look on her face was pure terror, but she finally dropped her stuff and turned to begin running…. But then the 3rd volley hit… and it was close. Very, very close to us. I could physically see the impact of the bullets on the astro-turf, I could feel the warmth & the passing of bullets. Once that 3rd volley was over, Casie linked her arm into mine, and we decided at that moment we weren’t stopping- we were getting the Hell out of there. And I do mean Hell. We were in literal Hell. The gentlemen that mocked me stating it was just fireworks fell to the ground, and he never got back up. The lady behind me (who was now in front of me) who was terrified as I told her to run, never got back up. I actually had to physically step over her body to run (something I am still struggling with, so please don’t attack me. I was absolutely in flight-or-fight mode). There was another person to my right who also wasn’t moving. We ran. I don’t know what direction we ran, I don’t know towards which landmark we ran. We just ran. It was at this time our group got split up. Casie & I were together. Ricky, Cassie & Mendy were together.
We were rounding some sort of corner maybe- and I looked to the right and I saw this large cowboy sitting down with his legs spread, holding a blood-soaked woman. I thought to myself “we NEED to hide”, but as I looked quickly for somewhere to go, the gunfire once again got closer and closer. We couldn’t hide because they (and I do mean THEY) were chasing us. That exact moment is when I started to really panic. That is the exact moment in which I thought this was it, I was going to die, I was never going to see my family again. So, as we are running, we approach this fence where men are throwing women over, and we ran up to it as they had knocked It down, so we were able to get out. As we crossed the threshold of the venue, my mind went straight to other mass shootings and hearing the victim’s families in my head talk about how they never got to say goodbye. I did not want this for my husband (who was at work) & my grandma (who had my daughter, Scarlett). So, at 10:07pm I called my husband franticly leaving him a voicemail- telling him that I loved him and was in the middle of a shooting & I wasn’t sure if I would make it out alive. Next, while still running, I called my grandma to tell her the exact same thing. But the gunfire wasn’t stopping this whole time. It wasn’t ceasing. It wasn’t slowing down. And It was directly behind us, following us. Bullets were coming from every direction. Behind us, in front of us, to the side of us. But I know, I just know, that there was someone chasing us. The entire time I felt this way. The farther we got from the venue, the closer the gunfire got. I kept looking back expecting to see the gunmen- and I say MEN because there was more than one person. There was more than one gun firing. 100% more than one.
As we were running, we kept changing direction, because it felt like no matter what direction we took, we were being followed. So we ended up running in a weird triangular path. The first place I remember getting to was a parking lot, and I told Casie (who was slightly in front of me) we needed to get under one of the trucks. She turned to me and started her way back to me, and that is when the gunfire got even CLOSER than ever before. It was RIGHT THERE. It was within the parking lot. Everyone around us was panicking once again. So we ditched the idea of getting underneath a vehicle, and we continued the run for our lives. If you know me, you know I am a big girl, who is out of shape, and who definitely does not run for any reason. But I can tell you I ran like I have never run before.
The 2nd place I remember going by was Hooters- which is where we met back up with the rest of our small group. We ran towards the entrance thinking we could take cover there, but as we got closer, a stampede of people ran out, terrified. We could only conclude that there was another gunman inside of that hotel. This made us even more scared- we had nowhere to go- no one to trust. At some point, we ended up at the airport & even entered the building for safety. Everyone as we entered were screaming at the staff “IS IT SAFE IN HERE?” but we weren’t getting anyone to answer us, so after running about 30 feet into the building, not getting the answers we so desperately needed, we decided it, too, wasn’t a safe spot, so we got out of there quickly and continued running.
After all this running, we were tired, sore & having to stop to cough, gag and even vomit. We ran across an intersection & us & another group of people pleaded with a limo driver to let us in and get us out of there. He was clearly confused & didn’t understand what was going on, so he didn’t let us in. Next, we ran to a taxi van & she was willing to let us in, but she told us her van only held 4 people & she wasn’t going to let the 5 of us in, so we said screw it and continued running. At one point, we ran passed a small liquor store where they so graciously gave us water bottles. We passed UNLV as well.
Some things I can’t remember exactly where we were or at what time of the night they happened. But we were running along what I am guessing was Tropicana Avenue, and this dark colored sedan drives by, slows a little, and a smaller Hispanic, dark-haired woman leans out the window, and she yells something we couldn’t understand in a clearly taunting manner. It really freaked us out, because again, we didn’t know who we could and could not trust.
I don’t remember at which time, but at some point, Ricky was reminded by Cassie that his Uncle Manny lived in Vegas. He called him, and we made a plan to meet him at a grocery store a couple miles away to get picked up. We finally made it to him, he shoved us all in his car, drove us to our hotel (we stayed off the strip), waited for us to pack (this literally took us all of 10 minutes max to do), and escorted us to the freeway to get us home. A HUGE thank you to Uncle Manny for his love, generosity & kindness.
The what-ifs still kill me. What if we hadn’t decided to be chill that night? What if we went to the same sardine-like spot we were in the two previous nights? What if we had been drinking as much as we had been Saturday night? Would we have had the reaction time to escape? What if I hadn’t had the desire to move next to Casie? Would we have been separated? There are still so many what-ifs from that night.
I have bene watching the news non-stop since I arrived back home to my family. And it just doesn’t make sense. The story that are feeding everyone doesn’t add up to our eyewitness accounts. There is something wrong with what they are saying & the evidence seems fake if you ask me. There are multiple people stating that there was a lady towards the beginning of the evening who had made her way up to the stage warning people that we were all gunna die- her and her boyfriend were escorted off the premises. Why has she not been mentioned by authorities? Every single survivor I have talked to also remembers multiple shooters, and at least one from the ground- why aren’t we being taken more seriously? Tons of things don’t add up.
I know I am forgetting a bunch of what happened, and I will edit this post to include it as I remember.
I praise our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ, for surviving a horrific incident. People were dropping like flies all around me, and there is absolutely ZERO reason why I wasn’t at least struck with a bullet. I left the Route 91 Festival completely unharmed physically, besides some scrapes and super sore bones & muscles. Mentally, however, is a different story. I do okay during the day, but as soon as nightfall hits, I get super scared & anxious. I am even typing this up with butterflies in my stomach and a racing heart. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to go anywhere, ever. I can no longer be in any place with large crowds- concerts, festivals, theme parks, zoos, etc. I can no longer trust anyone around me. I can no longer close my eyes without seeing those bodies & hearing the sound of gunfire. I am ruined, as are thousands upon thousands of people.
We were given wristbands to wear for the 3-day event. I can’t seem to take mine off.
We went to Las Vegas for a super fun, down to Earth country concert featuring our favorite artists. We left scared, scarred, traumatized and broken. And for that, we demand answers.
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