Some days later, Doug Miller recognized how traumatic the shooting in Las Vegas was.
“I hope nobody experiences something like this,” said Miller, who was near the right side of the stage with several family members and friends on the third day of the Route 91 Harvest Festival. “The only ones that do, I have tremendous respect for: our armed service personnel. Now, I have experienced it. … I’ve heard bullets flying by. I’ve heard the ricocheting. I’ve had people die in my arms.”
Miller was not shot, but Jordanne Barr, 24, was. She and her fiancé, former Canyon High and Weber State football player Jordan Adamczyk, 26, enjoyed country star Jason Aldean’s set along with many others. Barr said she was going to leave early, but was waiting for him to play “Hicktown,” which he usually plays early in the set, when she heard what sounded like helicopter blades whirring.
“Moments after, we realized what happened,” she said Wednesday from her bed in Mercy Southwest Hospital in Bakersfield, where she was to undergo surgery on her arm at 2 p.m.
Miller said he thought the gunfire sounded like firecrackers. Facing the stage, he turned over his shoulder to find the source of the noise and saw confetti. “Cool,” he thought.
Then he looked at the Mandalay Bay tower and saw a flashing light and heard a loud bang.
“I saw the muzzle flash,” he said. “I turned back toward the stage. A gentleman in front of me took a headshot, and he dropped. That’s when everyone figured out what happened.”
Everybody hit the ground. Barr and Adamczyk remembered the piercing screams. Miller said the bullets flying by sounded like a whoosh, “like if you can swat something by your ears, but it was high-pitched.”
Miller reached for the man he had seen shot.
“I reached over to see if he had a pulse. He had no pulse.”
Everybody stayed down for about five to seven minutes, men lying on top of their women to protect them. Adamczyk and Barr said they prayed.
“I laid on the ground, Jordan on top of me,” Barr said. “I thought I was shot. My right arm was numb. He said, ‘No, it’s ’cause I’m on your body.’ ”
They looked at her right arm. It was bleeding, worse than what people see in movies.
Miller remembered hearing bullets ricocheting off the metal of the bleachers and barricades. He saw a family friend, Logan Goodrich, holding a girl who had been shot. She was Dominica Zeolla.
“We were sitting ducks … it was utter chaos,” Miller said. “Fortunately, there was no stampeding.”
Miller shouted instructions: When you hear no bullets, run. When you do, stop and drop.
The closest protection was behind the vehicles and tour buses the performers and crew used. Everybody ran there. Miller saw a female police officer and told her he had seen a muzzle flash near the top of the Mandalay Bay tower. She radioed that information.
People were soaked in blood. People were asking for belts to use as tourniquets to stop the bleeding. Barr said one nice man used his belt on her arm.
She called her father, who was also in Las Vegas for work. He told her to get out of there.
Away from the scene
Kathie Goodrich wasn’t able to get tickets for the event because it had sold out. But she had bought the hotel room, at the Tropicana, and decided to go to Las Vegas anyway. She would see friends during the day and see other shows, such as Céline Dion, at night.
From her 21st-floor room that faced the MGM and, therefore, away from the concert area, she had started packing when she heard sirens and saw ambulances down below.
Her mother’s intuition told her something was wrong. She called her son, Logan. He didn’t answer (Miller recalled people shouting to turn off phones in case a gunman walked among them).
She texted a friend, Logan’s mother-in-law. No answer. She texted her daughter-in-law, “Are you OK?”
She felt a tremendous sense of helplessness. “I got to do something. What can I do?”
It felt like two hours, but after about three minutes, her daughter-in-law texted back: “No.”
Then she called Goodrich and told her it’s a mass shooting. “I could hear screaming in the background,” Goodrich said.
The hotels were locked down. Goodrich said her son made it to Hooters before making it back to the Tropicana. He couldn’t leave Zeolla until she was safe.
Amid the chaos
Miller didn’t leave with everyone else. An EMT grabbed him by the shirt and said, “I need your help.”
As they returned to exposed areas, the EMT gave Miller the same instructions he had given: move when you hear no bullets, stop and drop when you do.
They turned a metal barrier on its side and made a gurney. They went to a man who was lying there. Miller grabbed his hand. The man grabbed Miller’s hand. Then he went limp.
The EMT grabbed a banner, and the two men covered him.
At that point, Miller’s wife and daughter, who also hadn’t left but stayed behind the tour buses, came back out (the gunfire had stopped by then), and Miller knew he had to attend to them.
Police were telling people to run to the Tropicana. The Millers did that, and they stayed there in the service area and then in a large conference room until about 5 a.m., when they were released. They went to their room at the Luxor, where Miller showered. He had blood on his clothes and in his hair.
At the hospital
As Barr and Adamczyk ran up Las Vegas Boulevard, a man in what Adamczyk called “an old Jeep” pulled over and asked if they had been shot. When he heard, “Yes,” he insisted on taking them to a hospital.
“He got us there in 10 minutes, running red lights,” Adamczyk said. “I tried to give him money. He said, ‘Give me a hug. I’m going back to get more people.’ ”
The man took them to Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center. Barr’s father later arrived there and kept Adamczyk company while doctors attended to Barr.
Adamczyk washed himself off in a hospital bathroom. His shirt, pants and shoes were bloodied.
“There was a lot of blood. It wasn’t mine,” he said. “I was pretty hysterical, knowing she was shot. I didn’t know the extent of the bullet in her side.”
Doctors found that the bullet that hit Barr’s arm – but missed bone and artery – had gone through and lodged in her fat cells in her back. They decided that trying to remove it would do more harm than good.
Barr’s brother, Aleck, who’s in the Navy in San Diego, received emergency medical leave, drove up to pick up Barr’s mother, Jessica, and Aunt Monica in Bakersfield, and they made their way to Las Vegas.
Barr’s father chartered a plane to Bakersfield, where Adamczyk and Barr live. Before they left, Adamczyk went back to the Tropicana to get their belongings.
“I did not want to go there alone. I was terrified,” he said. “I wanted to leave Las Vegas as soon as possible.”
Barr’s mother accompanied her on the 45-minute plane ride home. Adamczyk stayed an extra night with his mother, who happened to be in Vegas with friends at the hotel Paris, and drove home with her.
Barr said her father knows many doctors, and one recommended a hand surgeon. Barr couldn’t move the right pinky and ring finger, and when she moved it with her other hand, she felt pain where she was shot.
The surgical plan, she said, was for the hand doctor to perform exploratory surgery to assess the damage. A graft from her leg might be necessary, she said, or maybe it will be just a cleanup job. Surgery was scheduled for Wednesday in Bakersfield.
Back at home
Goodrich said Logan wasn’t comfortable talking about his experiences. Ditto Miller’s wife, Deanna, who originally wanted to be interviewed with her husband.
Miller said his wife and daughter, 20, are having a hard time and only want to stay at home. Barr said she is still in survival mode and hasn’t yet cried.
Some good news: Goodrich said Zeolla has come through surgery and is no longer in critical condition. She’s stable.
Adamczyk said it’s been easier for him to talk about it, “but I know it’s going to be hard on Jordanne. She has a bullet to deal with.”
They expect to need therapy, physical and emotional.
Miller said he has had trouble sleeping (he estimated about six hours since Sunday) and constantly thinks about it. But he has returned to work (he was interviewed by phone there) and was leaving early to be with his family.
“It’s a traumatic experience. I get it. It happens,” he said, adding he has been through a shooting before. When he was 17, he saw a grocery store robber shoot his friend. “This is compounded by mass hysteria. Thousands of people trying to help, or running for their lives.”