Five years after a lone gunman opened fire on a country music festival audience from a Las Vegas hotel, there is little consolation and no answers for what sparked the massacre of dozens of people — the worst mass shooting ever America has ever seen.
Today, a memorial at the northeast corner of the festival site that has been turned into a killing field is still in the planning stages by Clark County government officials who hope the victims of the October 1, 2017 bloodshed will never be forgotten.
The memories of that slaughter still haunt country music manager JR Schumann.
“Run for your life! As fast as you can!” he screamed as the inexplicable Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting unfolded on Oct. 1, 2017, the former SiriusXM executive told The Post in an exclusive interview.
Schumann managed to dodge the gunfire and protect his staff backstage as bullets flew while country singer Jason Aldean performed the final show of the three-day festival.
By the end of the gunman’s rampage, 58 concert-goers were dead and 869 others injured.
There will probably never be a known motive. Gunman Stephen Paddock, 64, killed himself in his 32nd floor room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino.
Schumann said he “didn’t even know it was gunfire at first,” and recalled the hail of bullets exploding on stage like a “sonic boom,” followed by a “high-pitched bang.”
Confused and terrified, Schumann said he called his boss when the gunfire stopped for a moment – and seconds later screamed, “Oh god, there’s more to come!”
He hung up to get himself and his team to safety, he said – and tried to call his mother, aunt and uncle. Nobody answered.
The SiriusXM engineering team recorded Aldean’s performance for broadcast on popular country music channel The Highway. Instead, after the massacre, Schumann and his team spent days working with Aldean’s camp to turn over the audio recording of the shooting to the FBI.
The recently released 11 Minutes docu-series, which details the horrific events of that night, features SiriusXM host Storme Warren, who was at the festival site with Schumann and her SiriusXM crew members.
“The storyteller carries a very high weight,” says an emotional Warren on the show.
“A lot of responsibility to get it right. I spent five years with this story and these memories. And it’s important to take care of it. It is important that people know the truth out of respect for those we have lost, those who have been hurt, those who are still mentally and physically scarred.”
“For me, the story wasn’t about a shooter, it was about people helping each other. People help people,” says Warren. “To me, that’s the only story that needs to be told.”
The Route 91 Harvest Festival was never held again. Warren described the closing event as one that drew 20,000 fans to hear “the newest, hottest and biggest” country music stars.
During the deadly mayhem on the Las Vegas Strip, people thought “shooters were everywhere” and the streets were flooded with rushes of casino-goers who stormed out of hotels and festival-goers running for their lives, the documentary series reports.
It also lays out a timeline of the amazing attack, noting that at 10:05 p.m. the first shot was heard, and a second later a second shot, followed by a third salvo seconds later.
The confusion and chaos continue as reports of possible explosive devices, multiple active gunmen and a sense of a coordinated attack on Las Vegas become what officials think they are responding to.
At 10:07 p.m., a fourth salvo of shots erupted, as the timeline in the documentary series shows.
“They’re coming from Mandalay Bay,” local officials say, according to the documentation. “Right here! Right here! See those flashes?”
“Mandalay Bay! halfway up! I see the shots from Mandalay Bay halfway up.”
At 10:09 p.m., a fifth shot of gunfire — and another frantic exchange of police officers — is recorded. At 10:11 p.m., the sixth shot is recorded, followed by the seventh salvo.
As Schumann and the members of the SiriusXM team ran for their lives, the music manager said he stopped in front of a dead body and realized he had lost sight of his team members. He walked further back into the fenced festival area, found his team – and they kept running, he said.
Schumann knew he needed to take his team to their hotel rooms in Mandalay Bay to rest and consider what to do next. Their laptops, backpacks and IDs were all there in what became the most active crime scene in America.
More than 24 hours later, Schumann, who had no sleep, said he turned to his team and said, “I could use a drink.”
They wandered into Margaritaville late Monday, listened to Jimmy Buffett and drank Land Sharks for a few hours before the chaos of working with the FBI and trying to find their way home, he said.
SiriusXM hosts Al Skop and Buzz Brainard and his son knew to run when the gunfire started.
“I didn’t even know which way to go,” Skop recalled to The Post. “We just returned from the Strip.”
Skop and the others dodged bullets and landed on the second floor of a comedy club at the Tropicana. The doors were locked and the live news was broadcast on a large TV screen above the stage.
“Honestly, that’s when it got weird. It was a Lord of the Flies situation. You’re in this microcosm of everyone in a small room with locked doors,” Skop recalled. “Everyone was wondering what’s going to happen next.”
Skop would eventually reunite with Schumann and the other SiriusXM crew members. He remembers coming home late Monday night from the horror he had just witnessed in Vegas.
A week later, the hosts of The Highway would hit the airwaves again, reuniting in Margaritaville in Nashville for the “Music Row Healing Hour.”
“It was a group therapy session in Margaritaville,” Skop said.
Events are planned across Las Vegas on Saturday to honor the victims of a mass shooting that survivors cannot forget.
“It was then and still is a date and event that none of us will forget. And while the haunting memories of that night remain with us, there are undoubtedly the stories of incredible courage, heroism and strength from so many that night and since that have truly been etched in my mind,” said Mandalay Bay President and Chief Operating Officer Officer Chuck Bowling across from the post office.
“Everyone in this community and around the world stood together to help us get through this. We are all very grateful.”
https://nypost.com/2022/10/01/fears-still-fresh-from-2017-las-vegas-festival-shooting-massacre/ Fear of the 2017 Las Vegas Festival massacre is still fresh