Gary Sulz recalls there was a pair of high-heels abandoned in the middle of the hallway. The shoes were left by someone running amidst the chaos created when an 64-year old Stephen Paddock opened fire inside the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday night. The shooting left 58 people dead and more than 500 injured.
Sulz, and his wife Chrissie were at the opposite end of the strip watching a Cirque du Soleil performance. Sulz said as they were walking back to their hotel, half way down the strip, after the performance they began to hear chatter about a shooting incident.
“We thought it was an isolated incident. Then someone came by and said there was an active shooter at Mandalay Bay and for everyone to run,” Sulz said in a phone interview with the Mountaineer. “At that point all chaos broke out.”
People were running everywhere, said Sulz. His training as a former RCMP auxiliary officer and emergency support services director kicked in.
“I told Chrissie don’t run, just walk,” he said. “You could hear sirens. It was absolute panic mode.”
Sulz said hotel security was blocking entrances and only allowing people who were staying in the hotel to gain entrance. People were on the phone calling Uber drivers for rides and getting out that way.
“We saw police cars with lights and sirens. Some people were totally relaxed and other people were just absolutely sobbing,” said Sulz. “There’s no training you can give to prepare for this type of incident.”
Sulz said he and Chrissie feared for their lives.
“We were scared. We were afraid for our lives because we didn’t know,” he said.
When the Sulz’s finally got back to their hotel room there was a public service announcement asking people to not leave their hotel rooms.
“We turned on the TV and saw the news report. We stayed up for a couple of hours watching the news,” said Sulz. The couple also made sure to call their children to let them know they were OK, Sulz said, tearing up over the phone.
The Sulz’s were not the only people from Revelstoke who were on the Las Vegas strip when the shootings occurred on Sunday night. Dawn Doebert, Amanda Quinlan, Bobbie Doebert and Tiffany Beerling were attending a performance by country musician Jason Aldean across the street from the Mandalay Bay Hotel. All four women are safe.
Sulz said for those who experienced the chaos caused by the shootings first hand it is important to seek out professional counselling. He said for those providing support the biggest thing they can do is be a listening ear.
“The biggest thing we can do for each other is show compassion, show love and live in the present,” he said.