A gunman opened fire Sunday night into a crowd below him at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas.
The gunman, who took aim from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, left at least 59 dead and 500-plus injured.
Survivors of the attack and others recalled the night to journalists from the USA TODAY NETWORK. Here is what they saw in their own words.
Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity.
'Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!'
Justin Zimmerman recalled being with a group of four friends in the middle of the outdoor concert venue, about 100 yards from the stage.
"I left my friends to go get more beer, then you heard a distinct 'Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!,'" Zimmerman, of Dexter, Iowa, explained. "(I) thought it was the sound guy messing up, but you learn quickly it's actual gunfire.”
"I just stood there. I didn't know what to do. Then I got on the ground. Every time it stopped, people would get up and start running. At this point, you have a mad rush of people running toward you. People hit the ground and jumped over things. It was a crowd of running people, you couldn't see anything. I am just numb right now. It won't hit me till I get home and see my family."
‘It looked like a war zone’
Minutes after Cole Watson, his wife and their 9- and 5-year-old children decided to leave the Route 91 Harvest Festival, he heard “firecrackers” popping near the stage. Then Watson, a resident of Reno, Nev., heard someone yell “shooter.”
“As we were leaving that event, it was pure chaos. It looked like a war zone. Our main focus was our children and getting them as far away from the situation as we could. Everybody started bunkering down. People started pulling people into their rooms. Every time the shooting would stop — it was like he was reloading or something — people would take off.”
Watson said his two children are too young to understand what happened. He praised the Las Vegas Metropolitan police department.
“It could have been so much worse."
‘People were diving under tables’
Shelly and Joe Comfort were all having a drink at the hotel bar in Delano, a sister property connected to Mandalay Bay Resort, when the band stopped playing and ran off stage.
"The S.W.A.T. team came running into the (casino), running in with machine guns," Shelly Comfort said. "We were told to run as fast as we can, there's an active shooter. It was crazy. People were diving under tables. Everyone was cramming in, trying to get out of there."
‘Blood all over the elevator’
Maria Beth Stanfield was out with girlfriends Sunday night before heading back early to the MGM Grand two blocks from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
"I was in a cab and it was going slow, so I paid him and got out. It looked like 500 people running toward me. First, I was walking. Then I heard people say ‘Run!' I didn’t have time to think about what was going on, so I just start running. I saw blood on people’s clothes, so I ran into my hotel. I got ready to get on the elevator, and they cut the elevator off because there was blood all over the elevator. So I waited until they had an elevator clean enough for people to get on.”
‘I want to go home’
Law enforcement woke up Shambie Cooper, a businesswoman from Cocoa Beach, Fla., early Monday to check her hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort. Cooper hadn’t heard any gun shots. She saw the news at 2:30 a.m., when a friend messaged her.
"They just said, 'Ma'am, we need to search your room,'" Cooper said. "I knew why they were there, and I wasn't going to hold them up. At that time they were still looking for a second person, and I didn't want to keep them from doing what they had to do.”
"I don't see anyone outside. I don't hear sound out in the hall. It feels like I'm the only one in this place," she said Monday morning. "I don't like it. I don't like it all. I want to go home."
Country star Jake Owen: ‘It got faster and faster’
Country musician Jake Owen was standing to the side on stage, watching Jason Aldean close the three-day Route 91 Harvest festival, his father, Steve Owen, said. The singer heard popping noises, thinking they were pyrotechnics used in Aldean’s show.
“It got faster and faster, almost like it sounded like it was an automatic rifle,” Owen told the Today show. “You could hear it ringing off the tops of the rafters of the stage. That’s when you saw people fleeing. At that point, everyone on stage just started running everywhere possible.”
“I just kind of ran like everyone else,” Owen said. “At one point, I was crouched down behind a cop car with about 20 other people — that were just people who had just come to the show. Everyone’s asking if everyone’s okay. There was blood on people. You could see a couple of folks in the street that looked like they had been shot, lying there.”
‘You can feel the heaviness here’
Paul Rothstein and Blythe Mendelsohn-Rothstein of Airmont, N.Y., were outside Caesars Palace when a cousin texted them about the carnage unfolding a mile and a half away. The couple were at the Absinthe show, and were kept on lockdown until 2 a.m.
"When you're in the town where we are, it's just in the air. You can feel the heaviness here. We ended up walking about a mile and a half back to our hotel. It was empty. You never see that on the Vegas strip."
Contributing: Aaron Young of the Des Moines Register, Rochelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press, Matt Spillane of the The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News, Laurie K. Blandford of Treasure Coast Newspapers, Jeff DiVeronica of the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle and Wayne T. Price of Florida Today.
© 2017 USATODAY.COM