Lauren Lamandia fell to the ground, grasping at the arms and legs of strangers as gunfire rained down on the festival grounds outside a Las Vegas hotel-casino Sunday night.
“We were holding each other,” recalled Lamandia, 30, of Pomona after escaping the deadliest mass shooting modern U.S. history. “A lot of people were running and screaming and people were crying.”
Lamandia, her boyfriend and a few friends were among the 22,000 watching Jason Aldean perform at the Route 91 Harvest Festival when a gunman opened fire on the crowd from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, killing at least 59 people and injuring hundreds of others.
The Pomona woman said she and others around her thought the “pop, pop, pop” of the gunfire was fireworks at first.
“It felt like it took a while for us to realize what it was,” Lamandia said.
Then a man next to her dropped to the ground, falling on the mother of two. Lamandia believes he was hit by a bullet. She helped him to the ground then shielded his head with her body as people started running.
All around her, concert-goers were coming to the aid of the wounded. Two women in their early 20s carried the “lifeless” body of their friend by the ankles and wrists. Nearby, a man was giving CPR to another man.
“I ran over to help him, but I was having a hard time getting to him because I was jumping over bodies,” Lamandia said. “He was all bloody, and I’m pretty sure he was dead. There were just bodies laid out.”
Lamandia turned back toward the stage to look for her boyfriend. but he was nowhere to be found. She then dropped the ground and huddled with people nearby. After a bit, they got up and scurried to a set of bleachers next to the stage, where they hid until the gunfire stopped.
“It was like the blind leading the blind out there,” Lamandia said. “No one knew what the best,…