'It was just panic': Iowan recounts escape from Las Vegas mass s - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

'It was just panic': Iowan recounts escape from Las Vegas mass shooting

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At first, Justin Zimmerman dismissed the loud continuous pops he was hearing, thinking the concerts sound system was malfunctioning. 

The DJ from Dexter, Iowa, who escaped gunfire during the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas Sunday evening, hasn't gone to bed since. 

"The sound was-I can't even describe it," Zimmerman paused. "It was unreal."

Zimmerman had been vacationing in Vegas and went to the concert with some friends. 

"We were just kind of standing there and it was my turn to buy a round of beers so I took off," said Zimmerman. "I got about ten-fifteen feet away. Where I was at-there was a light pole, with a bunch of lights that shine on the stage. And all of a sudden you just heard pop, pop, pop, pop. My first reaction was there was something wrong with the sound or one of these light transmitters is going haywire. And then really quick you realize that's not the case. People are screaming. And in front of me is everybody, you just see a whole bunch of people turn around and just start running. And I just kind of froze. I didn't really know what to do. Is this really happening?"

Zimmerman said he quickly realized the gunfire was coming from outside the venue. 

"You could hear it was coming from up high," said Zimmerman. "Just the echo-and hearing a gunshot before you could just know where it's coming from.  So I kind of dove behind a garbage can. There were a bunch of small buildings there that they served beer from, and so I just took cover."

The venue, near the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, erupted in chaos sending thousands of concert-goers into panic. 

"Some people didn't realize it," said Zimmerman. "Some people did. And then finally Jason stopped playing. And then the first round stopped-so then it was dead silent. No lights. No concert music, and then the next round came. And that's when everybody knew what was going on, because Jason stopped, and it just hit you right there."

Zimmerman said in that moment, he just saw people scattering. 

"It was just panic," said Zimmerman. "I can't describe what I was going through because It hasn't hit me yet, but I didn't run right away. I didn't get down right away. I just stood there-like what do I do? Do I try to help? I already lost my friends, they're already gone. Do I try to get cover? And then when the shots aren't going out, you kind of get a chance to get your bearings and look around and make sure the person is not in the venue, which he wasn't. You could tell right away it was coming from a ways away."

Zimmerman was able to make his way across the strip-away from the venue. It was outside the Luxor, where he was able to record the harrowing video of rapid gunfire and the chaos that unfolded in his cellphone.  

"I just felt kind of calm-at ease because I'm like I know there's a threat going on, but the bullets aren't coming towards me," said Zimmerman. "And I have a building and plenty of cover to get down."

After he took the video, he went inside the Luxor for safety. 

"You walk into the Luxor, and nobody in the Luxor has any idea what's going on," said Zimmerman. "They're all looking at you, like why are you covered in water? And your jeans are all muddy and your face just looks like you saw a ghost. I couldn't even talk to them I just looked at them and showed them the video."

Zimmerman says the Luxor went on lockdown and he was stuck inside the hotel for the next forty minutes. Eventually, he was able to leave and head back to where he was staying at his friends, just South of Vegas. 

"Everything is still on lockdown," said Zimmerman. "There's no traffic down the strip, I know that whole area is still blocked off."

Zimmerman says he was eventually able to make contact with friends who he attended the concert with. None of them were injured in the gunfire. 

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