While Kyle Harris, DRAKE 2012, is still sorting out his emotions after he attended Sunday’s Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas and survived what is being called the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, he is thankful.
“I have more purpose now. I know that being the survivor of a mass shooting is not something to take lightly,” says Harris, who works at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab in Las Vegas. He says he’s still figuring out how the events have changed him just three days after gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on concertgoers. Reports say the Oct. 1 massacre left at least 58 dead and at least 500 injured.
“It’s been a surreal two-and-a-half days since all of this happened,” says Harris, who adds he took time off from work Tuesday and Wednesday morning to decompress. “I think I’m still in a state of shock, too. I don’t think that the whole situation has sunk in yet.”
Harris had arrived at the Route 91 Harvest Festival two hours before the shooting spree took place during country music artist Jason Aldean’s performance. “To us it sounded like firecrackers,” says Harris of he and the others at the concert. He says he thought to himself that it didn’t matter what was happening, but that something was wrong and that people were about to freak out and run.
Harris had been standing on the left side of the stage, where the shooter did not have a great vantage point, so no one around him had been shot. He moved about 20 feet over, so that he was against a food truck. “Literally seconds after I [moved and] got out of the way, the stampede started. People were running out, falling over, getting trampled on and it was just a chaotic scene,” he says.
Harris explains that he still did not understand what was going on until he walked through people laying on the ground who had been trampled, with blood everywhere. “[Then] a police officer comes running, he’s got his handgun pulled out and said, ‘Everyone get down, there’s an active shooter.’ At that point, the whole situation just became totally real,” Harris says.
He and his two friends who attended the festival made it away from the concert venue safely. While Harris says it will be difficult to go to the famed “strip” every day for work following the tragedy, he realizes how fortunate he is.
“The best thing that’s come out of this is that I realized how many people are in my life who care about me,” he says. “Life goes on. We have to keep living and we have to keep enjoying life.”