A Canadian man was among the more than 50 people killed in the Las Vegas concert massacre, a relative confirmed Monday.
The family member, who did not want his name used, said Jordan McIldoon, 23, of Maple Ridge, B.C., was in the crowd when a gunman opened fire from a hotel across the road on Sunday night.
McIldoon’s parents were travelling to Nevada to retrieve his body, the relative said.
“It’s a terrible thing,” he said. “I don’t handle it very well.”
McIldoon would have turned 24 on Friday and was a month shy of completing a course to qualify as a heavy-duty mechanic.
In a Facebook posting, Heather Gooze of Las Vegas said she was outside the festival grounds on Sunday.
“I am with a young man who died in my arms! RIP Jordan McIldoon from British Columbia,” Gooze wrote. “I can’t believe this just happened!!!”
Her account could not immediately be verified.
Everyone thought it was fireworks at the show until Jason Aldean dropped his mic and ran from the stage, so everyone started to run.
McIldoon was among many Canadians attending the country music festival when the mass shooting occurred but it was only when the performer on stage dropped his microphone and ran that the true horror of what was unfolding dawned on those in the crowd.
Their first thoughts as the sound of automatic gunfire resounded through the area turned to fireworks, many said.
“We heard the shots get fired, we saw the smoke,” Ashley Fowler, who was with friends, told the K-Rock radio station in St. John’s, N.L. “Everyone thought it was fireworks at the show until Jason Aldean dropped his mic and ran from the stage, so everyone started to run.”
As the panic- and fear-stricken crowd of more than 22,000 at the Route 91 Harvest Festival scrambled for their lives, some found themselves running into a wall of people, or an electric fence around the airport. A local with a truck attached a rope to the fence and pulled it down, allowing access to a runway, Fowler said.
“We’re all standing on the runway and they literally have to divert any planes landing in Las Vegas to Arizona because we’re all standing on the runway running from the shooters,” said Fowler, who got separated from her friends in the panic. “I’m in so much shock.”
At least 58 people were killed and 500 injured in what’s being called the U.S.’s worst mass shooting.
Police said a man opened fire from the 32nd floor of a hotel across from the concert and identified him as Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nev., less than two hours from Las Vegas. SWAT teams using explosives stormed his room in the Mandalay Bay hotel and found he had killed himself, authorities said. He had as many as 10 guns with him, including rifles, they said.
Jody Ansell, of Stonewall, Man., was among the injured. She said in a Facebook message from her hospital bed that she was recovering.
“I was shot in the right arm and the medical staff are taking care of me,” Ansell said.
Another Canadian, Monique Dumas of British Columbia, was six rows from the front of the stage when the shooting erupted.
At first she thought a bottle had smashed, and then, like so many others, thought the popping of automatic gunfire was fireworks. The shooting, she said, continued for the minutes it took for her to get out to safety.
Mikey McBryan, of Hay River, N.W.T., and his girlfriend were just leaving the casino at Mandalay Bay when officers with guns drawn began yelling at them to get out because there were shooters in the building. McBryan said they ran across the road to take shelter behind a large electrical transformer outside a gas station.
“It now seems like a foolish idea but we didn’t know what was going on,” McBryan said in an interview. “Everyone was kind of in a daze.”
Words fail this morning. The friendship & support of Canadians is with the victims in Las Vegas & the people of the US.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 2, 2017
McBryan said he didn’t hear any gunfire, but remembers waves of screaming as hundreds of people from the concert began descending on the area and police set up roadblocks.
Global Affairs Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the number of Canadians who may have been affected by the shooting in the city known for its glitz and gambling.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tweeted out a message of support.
“Words fail this morning. The friendship & support of Canadians is with the victims in Las Vegas & the people of the US.”
Las Vegas is a popular tourist destination for Canadians. Visitors from Canada made up nearly half of international tourists who arrived in the city by air last year, according to the Las Vegas Visitor Authority. Residents of Toronto and Vancouver and Calgary account for about one third of all visitors arriving by air.
— With files from the Associated Press.
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Author: The Canadian Press