MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - Passengers flying into South Florida from Las Vegas, Monday, shared their own stories in the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
At Miami International Airport, passengers collected their bags and counted their blessings, hours after, authorities said a gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, killing at least 59
at and injuring hundreds more at a country music concert.
“[We feel] extremely lucky,” said Cede Davis. “You know, lucky we don’t like country music, because we could have been there too, you know?”
One South Florida resident who was staying down the street from the hotel described what she saw. “I was entering the hotel right when that happened,” said Maria Cardona. “I was super scared.”
Traveler Shelli Powers said she was in a taxi on her way to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas when she heard the rounds of bullets. “We were in the taxi going to airport right by Mandalay Bay. I guess it was an automatic gun, ’cause it was just going off,” she said.
Davis said he was driving down the Las Vegas Strip when those fatal shots were fired. “We were in a convertible. We saw one guy run up to our car, and he basically started screaming, ‘They’re shooting people down there! Don’t go that way! Don’t go that way!'” he said.
Powers had no idea what was happening until she got to the airport, which is directly across the street from the hotel. “We just knew something was happening. When we got to the airport, they put the airport on lockdown and just kept us there,” she said. “We heard stuff, but we didn’t know what it was, and then when we got to the airport, we found out exactly what had happened.”
Other MIA travelers described their experience at the Las Vegas airport. “They had the whole Strip locked down. They had the airport locked down,” said Vegas resident Teresa Bolden. “Nobody could get in. Nobody could get out. There were no flights taking off for about an hour.”
“We were taxiing and they said, ‘The good news is we’re number one for take off. The bad news is there’s some kind of a security breach, so we have to stay here for 45 minutes,'” said traveler Steve Martin. “Then we eventually had to go back to the gate and get off the plane.”
“It’s just very sad. “We’ve never had something like that happen in Vegas,” said Bolden.
“I’m happy to be home. It was very scary,” said Powers.
Meanwhile, at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, 7News cameras captured extra deputies on hand as early morning flights from Vegas came in.
Passengers said they were relieved to have escaped the horror. “We got very lucky. We were supposed to be there [at the time of the shooting],” said Thiago Silviria. “Yeah, and we just happened to change our flights.”
One man was too upset to address the tragedy. He said he was at the concert when the shots rang out.
Incoming flights from Vegas were delayed at FLL. “We were actually the second airplane before taking off. We were already on the runway,” said Silviria, “and they called the airplane back in and emptied the whole plane, back into the airport, and the airport went into lockdown.”
“It’s really horrible. I feel so sad for the victims,” said Vanni Ghilardi. “I was there for just a couple of hours. I was there walking by that hotel. Thank God I’m OK and I’m safe. Thank you, Lord.”
“I really feel sad for the victims, especially the tourists,” said Bolden, “because Vegas is a fun place to go to, someplace you wanna go to get away with your family, just with your spouse, married couples, whatever, so for something like this to go on, it’s terrible.”
The shooting happened around the same time that many travelers were catching red-eye flights from Las Vegas to the East Coast.
Getting back to South Florida was not easy for some passengers. One man told 7News he was rebooked 10 times before he was able to leave.
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