One Day Later: Mandalay Bay

The silence was deafening at Las Vegas’s Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino Monday night, 24 hours after the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Shooting Survivor
Al Powers/Powers Imagery/AP
– Shooting Survivor
A young woman hides inside the Sands Corporation plane hangar after a gunman opened fire at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas.

Many of Mandalay Bay’s 3,635 rooms are empty and the 29th through 33rd floors are totally blocked off as a crime scene, according to Jenni Rivera, a Mandalay Bay staff member.

The casino floor is normally lively and active with gamblers, convention attendees and revelers drinking, smoking, socializing and doing what people come to Las Vegas to do.

Last night, the mood was somber and felt like a casino either just starting out or at the end of its life. About 100 people were playing slots or table games on the 135,000-square-foot casino floor. The number of employees – dealers, security guards and waitresses – looked to be the same number of people that were spending money.

“It’s usually so much busier in here,” Rivera said. “People don’t want to come here tonight. It’s spooky.”

Just 24 hours earlier, before lone-gunman Stephen Paddock smashed the windows out of his 32nd floor suite and started shooting at the hundreds of country music lovers attending Route 91 Harvest festival below, the fun had not yet been stomped on.

“Normally it’s crazy in here,” Rivera said. “People are playing the slots and the ringing of the slots can be heard on the whole floor. People are throwing dice, betting on blackjack, drinking at the bar.”

But Monday evening, these activities seem to have taken the night off. Instead, the cards being slapped on the table could be heard; the ball spinning in the roulette wheel is audibly noticeable and the clinking of glasses on the bar sounds like thunder crashing onto the ground.

“I’ve never heard it so quiet in here,” Rivera said.

It wasn’t so quiet 24 hours earlier.

“I could hear the ratta-tat-tat coming from somewhere. No one really understood what was going on last night. It sounded like fireworks.”

Rivera and her fellow employees and guests knew it wasn’t just fireworks when the Las Vegas police and SWAT team stormed the building at approximately 10:30 p.m.

“All of a sudden there were dozens of police racing through the building. We saw them run from the entrance and head to the elevators.”

About “20 minutes later” the shooting had stopped. Paddock had killed at least 59 people and wounded 525 more.

And, on Monday, the normally bustling Strip was cordoned off by police crime-scene tape.

Crouching Under a Blackjack Table

Shinzu Abu was playing Blackjack when he heard the sound of bullets.

“The band stopped playing,” Abu said. “It was weird. The band just ran offstage. I knew something was not right.”

The Korean cell phone app specialist knew something was off.

“I heard there was someone shooting people on the Strip,” he said. “It sounded like it was far away but I heard the gunfire in this hotel; it was too close a sound to be so far away.”

Abu ducked for cover under the Blackjack table the moment he saw the police race through the building.

“There were dozens and dozens of police swarming the Mandalay Bay,” he said. “The police said we should leave. I was too scared to leave. I thought hiding under the table was better.”

Abu was eventually forced out of the now-crime scene and bused to the Thomas & Mack Center, where he was given food, water, doughnuts and shelter.

“They were very nice and really seemed to care about how I was doing.”

Ikue Amase was also at Mandalay Bay during the tragedy. Like Abu, she didn’t understand what was happening. Eventually, she ran out of Mandalay Bay, fearing for her life. But she ran back in when the police showed up.

“I hid behind the bar,” she said. “There were about 10 other people hiding with me.”

Amase stayed hidden in Mandalay Bay, with other guests and staff members, until nearly 7 a.m.

‘’I kept looking at my phone for information,” she said. “It was the longest night of my life.”

Brianne Harring was inside Mandalay Bay Sunday night, playing the slots. She arrived from Seattle just hours earlier.

“It was crazy in here,” she said. “People were running fort the doors; others jumped over the bar and hid behind the bar.”

Threasa Johanas, from Paris, was inside Mandalay Bay on Monday night.

“I only heard about this when my plane landed,” she said. “I thought, ‘Should I change my hotel’ but people at the airport told me it would be okay.”

“I had about 30 messages on my phone when I landed. My dad was concerned, so was my boss.”

When Johanas got to Mandalay Bay she said it was eerily quiet.

“I think of Vegas as loud and noisy but it was just the opposite when I got here,” she said.

Outside, a day later, it was still quiet and filled with police presence.

“There are a lot of police outside,” she said. “I am happy they are there; I am sad they have to be there.”

Yellow police tape stretched from the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard from Tropicana to Russell Road at press time.

“It will be there for days,” said Brian Henderson from the Las Vegas Police Department. “This will remain an active crime scene until the investigators are satisfied they know exactly what happened Sunday night.”

Brad Weissberg is senior writer at Venues Today