Singer Jake Owen Describes Running From Stage During Las Vegas Shooting: “It Was Chaos”
Country singer Jake Owen performed just before Jason Aldean on Sunday night (Oct. 1) and was standing on the side of the stage when a gunman opened fire and killed at least 50 and injured more than 200 during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. Speaking to NBC News, Owen described the chaotic scene as it unfolded.
“I was on the stage. I had just walked up on the stage with a couple friends of mine, including Luke Combs, another artist who had played earlier, and we were literally standing 50 feet from where Jason was on stage, and all of a sudden, you heard what sounded – it was kind of a think where you were like, ‘Was that gunfire?’ – and it got faster and faster, almost like it was an automatic rifle,” he said. “You could hear it ringing off the rafters off the top of the stage. That’s when you saw people fleeing. At that point, people on stage just started running everywhere possible. And it was pretty chaotic, for sure.”
Owen said he ran in the opposite direction of where his usual shelter would be, his tour bus, which was on the other side of the stage. “So I kind of just ran like everyone else. At one point, I was crouched down behind a cop car with about 20 other people that had come to the show, and everyone’s asking if everyone’s okay,” he said. “There’s blood on people, and you could see a couple folks on the street that looked like they’d been shot lying there. It was chaotic. It was literally like a movie that you feel like you’ve seen before that’s not real life.”
Asked how long it felt like from when the shooting began — which a number of eyewitnesses said they first believed were fireworks to celebrate the end of the concert — to when it ended, Owen said it seemed like “close to 10 minutes.” Speaking to CNN on Monday morning, Owen said that considering the 64-year-old shooter, who has been identified and confirmed dead, was on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay resort overlooking the festival grounds it was “like shooting fish in a barrel, I hate to say that.”
Once the barrage of fire in what has now become the largest mass shooting in U.S. history began Owen said he and his crew ran to their crew bus and lay on the floor as the shots continued to ring out. “That’s mind-boggling,” Owen said upon hearing that the incident had surpassed the 49 deaths from the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando. Owen was not able to gain access to his tour bus as of Monday morning because it was still part of the crime scene. “I mean, it was chaos for a pure seven to 10 minutes,” he told NBC.
This article originally appeared on Billboard.