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#LasVegasShooting Tweet-by-Tweet: A Grateful Mom’s Plea

2017-October-5

Sunday night, moments after this country’s worst mass shooting, my son texted me. He had just escaped with his life. He was okay. We spent the rest of the night texting each other information, as he spent it on lock-down in his Luxor hotel room. There were tweet-reports of car bombs and active shooters at the Luxor. I kept him informed as I scoured Twitter and local Vegas news sources for information. My son did not die that night. I was lucky. I am a grateful mother with a plea to Congress: please do something. This is not a second amendment issue. This is a right to life issue. The next time this happens, and we know it will, you or I may not be so lucky. #GunControlNow


Las Vegas Shooting Text 1

Nate: “There was a shooting at a concert but we’re okay just letting you know in case you see it.”
October 1, 2017 – 10:20PM

Me/Mom: “Thanks for letting me know, Nate. Stay safe. Love you. Mom”
October 1, 2017 – 10:21PM


 

On October 1st at 10:20 p.m. I received a text message from my son to tell me there was a shooting at a concert but he was okay.

A shooting? What concert? Where? Why is there nothing on the news?

What I didn’t know at that moment was that the shooting had just ended. Now we know that the shooting started at 10:08 p.m. and it lasted about 11 minutes. That’s 10:19 p.m. and Nate’s text message came in at 10:20 p.m.

What I did was go on Twitter to see if anyone was tweeting about a shooting. That is Twitter’s strength, immediate crowd-source information. I had assumed the shooting must have been at a concert in Southern California where Nate lives. Nothing about a SoCal shooting, but the number one trending topic on Twitter was “Mandalay Bay.” Mandalay Bay? Las Vegas?

Nate & Jamie at Las Vegas Country Concert 2017 Sep29-Oct1 BlockedA few days ago, on September 29, my son sent me a photo of him and his wife at a white tent event. They were dressed casually, smiling, lots of people. I texted back, “It looks like fun.” Since Nate is a man of few words, it did not include information of what event, where, nor the fact that it was a three-day concert. Could this be it?

Las Vegas Shooting Text 2I texted Nate back that the only information I could find was from people who were tweeting that there was a shooting at a concert at the Mandalay Bay.

Nate texted back that he had sent me a photo from it a few days ago, that it was a three-day concert, there was a lot of gunfire, he had jumped on top of his wife to protect her, and then they ran out the back.

Luckily for them, the concert venue was right in front of their hotel, the Luxor, and he had brought a number of people back to his room on the 8th floor. They were on lock-down. They were safe, but one guy they were with had been shot in the hand.

“A lot of gunfire – jumped on top of Jamie and then we ran out the back.”

Las Vegas Shooting Text 3Oh, my God. I could have lost my son. I could have been one of those moms that was going to be getting that dreaded phone call later tonight to notify me that my son was dead.
Nate Sleeps on Mommy's Face - WMWhat could I do? I needed to do something to help him. I decided to continue to scour Twitter for information to text him. The shooter was not caught yet. There could be multiple shooters. There could be explosive devices. Information was powerful in this situation and I could be his eyes and ears via all the vigilant people on Twitter that were sharing information and I looked for them.

On Twitter I found a lady whose aunt was a Las Vegas dispatcher; a number of people who were listening to police scanners; local police beat reporters; hotel guests at the Luxor and Mandalay Bay; concert attendees and victims; personnel at hospitals; local Las Vegas residents on sight…and I found via Roku a local Las Vegas news station that was on without commercials providing information and news updates from the Sheriff.

Thank you to all of them.

I continued to listen to the local Vegas news and scoured Twitter, sharing information with Nate via text. Twitter’s news was faster and there was much more of it from various sources. The local news was slow and more cautious about what they shared, but for the most part it was confirmed information.

Las Vegas Shooting Text 5There were witness tweet-reports of an active shooter at the Luxor. Nate was on lock-down in his room at the Luxor. I texted Nate the information. He prepared himself and his group for the possibility that someone might come shooting into his room or shoot through the walls. It turned out that the shooter was on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, which is right next to the Luxor, and he was shooting into the Luxor, as well as the concert venue in front of the Luxor.

Las Vegas Shooting Text 6There were tweet-reports from the police scanners that there might be a car bomb at the Luxor – Nate’s hotel. An SUV with suspicious wires had been valet parked in the Luxor garage.

A car bomb? Like in the Middle East? Like Oklahoma City? I continued to silently pray.Las Vegas Shooting Text 7

Some people on the ground that spoke to a police officer had tweeted that he told them the car bomb situation looked “really bad.” I texted Nate. He mentally prepared himself to react in case there was an explosion at the hotel.

Las Vegas Shooting Text 9Those people listening to the police scanners tweet-reported that the police bomb squad was on its way to the Luxor to check on the possible car bomb and other suspicious possible explosive devices. I texted Nate.

I felt helpless to help him, but I continued to pray and I continued to search for information. It gave me the illusion of doing something for my son and it focused my mind.

Las Vegas Shooting Text 10Then the tweet-reports came in that the police had killed the shooter, but concert-goers and victims were tweeting that there were 2-4 shooters and some of them were on the ground in the concert. I texted Nate. He agreed that when the gunfire erupted it sounded like multiple shooters and certainly some of them had to have been on the ground at the concert. So, perhaps there were still active shooters out and about.

A couple of hours had passed since I had first gotten Nate’s text at 10:20 p.m. and this horror of a nightmare had no end in sight. The tweet-reports coming in were of mass casualties. So many parents would be getting that phone call we all dread, but I was still in communication with my son. I felt so guilty. I felt so grateful.

Las Vegas Shooting Text 8On the local Vegas news station they were reporting 2 dead and 24 injured, 12 critical. Is that possible? People tweeting who were at the concert were saying there were bodies and blood everywhere. Those official numbers from the Sheriff were preliminary. They would probably go up.

Las Vegas Shooting Text 11Nearly an hour later, the lady whose aunt was a Las Vegas dispatcher tweeted that her aunt said the numbers were 80 dead and 200 injured. (Oh, my God.) I texted Nate the numbers. He texted back that those numbers had to be wrong, almost willing them down. We were both in shock and disbelief.

Las Vegas Shooting Text 12

In the meantime, I still had my son at the Luxor with a possible car bomb in its garage. He had a plan and an exit strategy in case the bomb went off, but he wanted to know if I had found any updates on the car bomb. I scoured the people listening to police scanners and anyone mentioning the Luxor hotel. What was going on with the car bomb? Had the bomb squad diffused it? Were they still working on it?  Would they evacuate the hotel soon? There was nothing on the local Las Vegas evening news concerning the car bomb and on Twitter there were additional reports of suspicious-looking devices / possible other explosives at the Luxor.

Las Vegas Shooting Text 13In the hours that passed, at some point just before 2 a.m., tweet-reports started coming in from people listening to the police scanners that the suspicious vehicle at the Luxor with the wires sticking out had been cleared by the bomb squad. It was a self-driving vehicle, but no bomb. I could breathe a little. And I texted Nate to let him know.

There were random tweet-reports that there were white vans driving up and down the strip shooting people. On Twitter you look for repetitive information from many sources and this I discredited early on, but I continued to scour for information and assess what Nate needed to know to keep himself and his group as safe as he could.

Las Vegas Shooting Text 14As the early morning hours slowly ticked away, the sheriff put out the name and photo of the dead shooter’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley. They were also looking for two vehicles and he shared the license plate numbers. I texted Nate the information to pass on to others. There was something comforting in knowing names and license plate numbers. The feeling that someone was doing something and perhaps they could find these people and stop this nightmare.

It was 3 a.m. and it had been a long night. I kept praying for my son and the many parents, spouses, and children that were getting the worst phone call of their lives about now. I was so grateful that nothing had happened to my son or my daughter-in-law. And yet my heart-ached for all those who had lost someone they loved tonight in this senseless massacre. My heart-ached for all those who survived, but will have to live with the torture of what they witnessed. I was exhausted – physically, mentally and emotionally. A waking nightmare. I needed sleep.

Las Vegas Shooting Text 15As of today, we know the numbers are closer to 60 dead and 500+ injured. But to a mother who gets that call from a police officer in the middle of the night to tell her that her son or daughter is dead, one death, that death, is one too many.

Why? Why is allowing people to own innumerable high-powered weapons with massive killing potential more important than our right to go to a concert or a nightclub or a church or a school without the fear of being killed or witnessing a massacre? Why?

This is not a second amendment issue. This is a right to life issue. A right to live issue.

Why is it acceptable for Congress – mostly Republicans – to accept bribes, in whatever form they get them, from the NRA whose sole goal is to sell more and more weapons? Would we allow ISIS to bribe our Congress to relax or pass laws so they can kill more American citizens?

No, of course not. But we pass laws to make it easier for mentally ill people to get guns? We pass laws to allow people who are on a no-fly list to buy a gun? We pass laws to allow people to buy weapons at a gun show without a background check? We pass laws to allow people to buy modifications to turn guns into silent killers and rifles into automatic rapid fire weapons?

Do you see how insane this all appears to the rest of us?

This past Sunday night I could have lost my son because a man – apparently a perfectly nice sane man with no politics or religion to blame for his massacre – purchased and brought more than 20 weapons to his 32nd floor hotel room – his sniper’s nest – to shoot down into a crowd of 22,000 innocent people who wanted nothing more than to enjoy the last night of a country music concert. My son and his wife and their friends were at this concert. They could have have died that night.

My son was lucky. I was lucky not to have gotten a phone call in the middle of the night from a police officer telling me that my son had been shot and killed. But I could just as easily be writing a very different blog post tonight.

Tonight, I am a grateful mother with a plea to Congress: Do something.

The NRA is not your only constituent, but they pay you big money to pass ridiculous laws that have nothing to do with protecting the second amendment and everything to do with maximizing their profits.

We, the people, are your biggest constituents. We deserve your protection. Our children deserve your protection from the NRA. I ask you to pass reasonable and, if necessary, unreasonable gun control legislation.

Some day, you may be that parent getting that phone call and you will have no one to blame but yourself because you could have done something about it.



Martie Hevia (c) 2017 – All Rights Reserved



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