Sunday night at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival was supposed to be filled with great opportunity and provide an opportunity for fans to relax and have fun.
For DJ and former Houston resident Clayton Chaney, it nearly was.
“It was amazing. I was hanging with friends backstage. I got to meet all these really cool country artists who were having a great time,” he said. “Out of nowhere, you just hear what sounded like fireworks. We didn’t really know what was going on at the time.”
By now, we all know what was happening; Bullets were raining down from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay. Video from Sunday night shows fans scrambling for safety, trying to outrun the gunfire that never seemed to stop.
“I even saw a lady get shot in the leg. She was brought over to my area,” Chaney said. “They were like, ‘We need belts. Let’s wrap up the leg.’ It was awful. Seeing that was hard to explain.”
The former Rice University decathlete hid behind a tour bus with others until SWAT officers led him out. He says only then did he fully grasp what had happened.
“Seeing the dead bodies on the ground and blood everywhere, it was just awful,” Chaney said. “I stopped running for a bit and realized, ‘They’re not alive.’ It’s just heartbreaking.”
Now this DJ, who just moved from Houston to Vegas three weeks ago, is worried about his life, his livelihood and his fans.
“You’re not safe anywhere. This was a great event. It was controlled really well. I felt safe there and I was having a great time,” he said, shaking his head. “Moving forward, I don’t know.”
He’s not alone in that struggle of not knowing what comes next after joy turns to terror in mere moments.