MEDINA — Medina resident Emily Rose has been on heaven’s doorstep three times.
Her latest brush with death was Sunday night in Las Vegas. Rose, a real estate agent with Re/Max Omega in Brunswick, was at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, where the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred.
She was attending the country music festival with three of her girlfriends and the Sunday headliner, Jason Aldean, had just started his set.
“We were standing there enjoying the music and the vibe was good,” Rose said. “We heard about five pops — pop, pop, pop. We’re thinking, ‘Who’s the moron that brought fireworks to this event?’
“Then, within a minute, we heard rapid fire in succession. We all realized these are gunshots. That was the audible clue.”
The visual clue, she said, happened when Aldean and his band laid down their instruments and ran off the stage.
The 22,000 people in attendance at the 15-acre, open-air Las Vegas Village at the MGM Grand Las Vegas also started running for their lives.
“All hell broke loose,” Rose said.
For Rose and her girlfriends, running for cover wasn’t an option. One of her girlfriends has multiple sclerosis and is wheelchair-bound. She was sitting on a handicap-accessible, elevated platform just to the left of the stage, and there was a railing between Rose and her girlfriend.
As bullets flew, Rose and her friends tipped the wheelchair backward and dragged their friend over the railing to safety.
“We barricaded ourselves (near the stage),” Rose said. “We could not tell where the gunshots were coming from. It was an eerie feeling.
“When he unloaded the clip, there was a 20- or 30-second pause. Time seemed to stop. I don’t know how many bullets are in a clip, but the shooting went on and on.”
The shooter has been identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, who apparently turned a gun on himself in his hotel room in the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Resort. Fifty-nine people were killed and more than 525 injured in the rampage.
About eight people huddled near the stage, heads covered with their hands, with Rose and her friends. Bullets were ricocheting off the handicap-accessible platform next to them.
One young girl fell on top of them after being shot, and one of the women in Rose’s group took off her shirt and wrapped it around her wound.
“Shots kept going on,” Rose said. “From what I gather, (the shooter) spent about 20 minutes shooting at all of us.
“There was a moment in time that this might be it for me. I can’t get out. My girlfriend can’t run.”
It was at that point a man wearing dark clothes walked toward them. Rose didn’t know if he was in law enforcement or the shooter.
“Do I trust this man?” she wondered. “I was like I have to get up and run. … It was either fight or flight. The man approached me to get up and run. I could still hear the shooting.”
And that’s what she did. People were herded out to Las Vegas Boulevard.
“They were stopping cars and getting people to the hospital,” Rose said.
“I was running,” she said. “I didn’t know where I was going. They were guiding us in the back door of the Tropicana Hotel, where they were locked down.
“They had to make sure (people) weren’t part of what happened,” Rose said.
As she entered the room, there was a woman being attended to with a bullet hole in her leg the size of a half-dollar.
“I could see flesh,” she said. “There was blood everywhere. People in attendance at the concert switched gears and became first responders. They went from being country music fans to helping other people.”
People were moved to the Tropicana’s convention hall. They were in lockdown for six hours.
Her phone was almost out of power, but the divorced mother of three wanted to reach out to her children — son, Nick, and daughters, Alexa and Cassie.
“They were the first three people I tried to reach out to,” Rose said. “I shot them a text message: ‘There has been a shooting, but I’m safe. I will call you when I can.’
“I knew they’d panic.”
The shooting occurred about 10 p.m. local time (about 1 a.m. in Ohio).
Rose said she also reached out to a friend of hers and told him to turn on the television.
“We had no access to the outside world,” she said.
They finally were released at 6 a.m. Walking through the streets in Las Vegas was strange, she said. There was no traffic. Everything was closed. All she could see were security and SWAT vehicles.
Rose, a former president of the Medina County Board of Realtors, said she’s a regular at the country music festival in Las Vegas.
“We’ve gone all four years,” she said. “It’s an annual event for me. We weren’t going to miss year four.”
The Lakewood native, who moved to Medina in 2000, said two of her friends are from California. The other is from Las Vegas. If the event is staged next year, she said she will be there.
“It’s a three-day country music festival,” Rose said. “The beautiful part of it is all the new artists that come up from Nashville. There are a lot of up-and-coming performers.”
Aldean, she said, “is a great performer.”
‘I’m a tough chick’
Rose said she feels lucky to be alive.
“There was a moment in time, when we were stuck in place and gunshots were flying when you just didn’t know,” she said. “The bullets are getting close to you. This is it. There’s nothing you can do. It didn’t make me panic. If I don’t get out of here alive, this is supposed to be where it happens.”
It seemed like the gunfire would never stop.
“He never stopped shooting for those 20 minutes,” she said.
“It is unbelievable. This man had a purpose. I will tell you everyone that was able to help someone helped them. We were at the mercy of a mentally deranged person.”
Authorities aren’t releasing much information on Paddock. Rose said she’s trying not to watch much of the footage on TV.
“I don’t want to get wrapped up in the sensationalism,” she said. “I lived it. I was terrified. I was completely terrified.
“I don’t know anybody who experienced this who wouldn’t be impacted by it for the rest of their lives. I’m not going to let evil take over my live.”
“I’m a tough chick,” Rose said. “I won’t let one crazy man destroy my life. I’m not going to let him take joy from my life.”
She said she “almost died twice before.”
On March 17, she stopped breathing after having a severe asthma attack while at a restaurant in Medina.
“I almost checked out,” she said.
It happened a couple years ago, as well.
She said after she almost died in March, she vowed to do things that make her happy.
“I stopped breathing,” she said. “Game on. It was God’s test of my will. If I have to take the journey alone, I will.
“I know what it’s like when we check out. We will all get there at some point. I just didn’t want it to be from a bullet.”
Obviously, she didn’t know all the people at the concert, but in her mind they are all kindred spirits.
“This is not just my story,” Rose said. “The 22,000 people all have some variation of it. It’s just one voice.”
The few video clips she’s seen put her right back in that venue.
“It’s fresh in my mind,” Rose said. “I keep replaying it. It’s surreal. I look at it and think, ‘Oh, my God, I was there. I was one of those people running and screaming. It will take time to process it. I’m thankful I’m alive.”
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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