The Newnan Times-Herald

Local

Former Newnan residents OK after carnage in Las Vegas


  • By Winston Skinner
  • |
  • Oct. 03, 2017 - 8:46 PM

Eric and Celia Goodyear found out about the largest mass shooting in U.S. history like most other Americans.

“We were not at the concert and were sound asleep at home,” said Celia Goodyear, a former reporter for The Newnan Times-Herald. The Sunday night shooting at a country music concert in the Las Vegas commercial district was on the internet, television and radio the next morning.

The Goodyears, former Newnan residents, now live in Las Vegas. Eric Goodyear’s plans for work on Monday were scuttled because of the shooting that has resulted in the deaths of 59 people so far.

“We are building a new restaurant in the Paris resort,” the electrician said. “I was told no one was going to be working in the construction area.”

The Goodyears have not been to the outdoor venue where the Route 91 Harvest Festival was held Sunday. “It’s right off the Las Vegas  Boulevard, which is the strip. The Mandalay Bay is right across the street,” Eric Goodyear said. “The shooter was at the Mandalay Bay.”

The Mandalay Bay is a 44-story hotel and casino resort. A gunman on the 32nd floor of hotel rained heavy fire down on a crowd of more than 22,000 at the outdoor country music festival, according to The Associated Press.

At least 515 people were injured.

The FBI discounted the possibility of international terrorism, even after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. But beyond that, the motive remained a mystery, with Sheriff Joseph Lombardo saying, "I can't get into the mind of a psychopath at this point."

Concertgoers screamed and ran for their lives Sunday night outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. Some thought the bursts of fire they heard were firecrackers. They were, the AP reported, dozens of bullets in rapid-fire bursts, seemingly from an automatic weapon.

SWAT teams using explosives stormed the gunman's hotel room in the gold-colored glass skyscraper and found he had killed himself. The attacker, Stephen Craig Paddock, a 64-year-old retiree from Mesquite, Nevada, had 23 guns with him, along with devices that can enable a semi-automatic rifle to fire continuously, much like an automatic weapon.

Country music star Jason Aldean, a native of Macon, was closing out the three-day festival when the gunman apparently used a hammer-like device to smash out windows in his room and opened fire, the muzzle flashes visible in the dark, authorities told the AP.

The crowd, funneled tightly into a wide-open space, had little cover and no easy way to escape. Some victims fell to the ground, while others fled in panic. Some hid behind concession stands. Others crawled under parked cars.

After the first burst of gunfire, the music stopped, Aldean left the stage, and many of those in the crowd looked on in confusion. Then the shooting resumed about 30 seconds later.

Couples held hands as they ran through the dirt lot. Faces were etched with shock and confusion, and people wept and screamed. Some were bloodied, and some were carried out by fellow concertgoers. Dozens of ambulances took away the wounded, while some people loaded victims into their cars and drove them to the hospital, the AP reported.

Some of the injured were hit by shrapnel. Others were trampled in the mass panic.

The shooter appeared to fire unhindered for more than 10 minutes as Las Vegas police frantically tried to locate the man in one of the Mandalay Bay hotel towers, according to radio traffic. For several minutes, officers could not tell whether the fire was coming from Mandalay Bay or the neighboring Luxor hotel.

Eric Goodyear said Interstate 15, which runs near the site of the shooting, was closed for a couple of hours. Flights at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas were also suspended for a time.

According to the AP, nearly every inch of the Las Vegas Strip is under video surveillance, much of it set up by the casinos to monitor their properties. That could yield a wealth of material for investigators.

Hours after the shooting, Aldean posted on Instagram that he and his crew were safe and that the shooting was "beyond horrific."

"It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night," the country star said.

Eric Goodyear went to give blood at 6 a.m. Monday and found a line was already forming. He was in line two hours.

“On my side of town everything’s normal,” he said Monday. “I know traffic across the city has been disrupted. People are still trying to figure out how to get around the cordoned-off areas. … The entire perimeter all around downtown has been closed.”

President Donald Trump ordered flags flown at half-staff until sunset Friday to remember those who were killed in Las Vegas, and was set to visit the city today.