Gardnerville couple survives Las Vegas mass shooting
What started out as a fun “get away” weekend for Gardnerville residents Timothy Hinkle and his wife Heather, left them and thousands in fear for their lives at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday.
“We had this planned for months,” said Hinkle.” It was suppose to be a fun get away with my wife. Now, I can’t stop thinking about it.”
During the closing performance by country singer Jason Aldean at the packed outdoor concert, a gunman on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino across Las Vegas Boulevard opened fire into the festival crowd.
Hinkle said he and Heather were standing about 50 feet from the stage enjoying the performance when they heard what sounded like firecrackers. They turned their attention to the sky.
“I was just standing there like who is shooting firecrackers? I looked up to look for the flower of the fireworks when another round went off and everyone took cover,” said Hinkle. “It was the weirdest sound, you just don’t hear something like that too often. I almost didn’t even feel threatened. It just didn’t cross my brain that someone was shooting a firearm at a crowd of people listening to country music.”
Hinkle and his wife took shelter behind a two-story building at the venue as another volley shot across the Las Vegas Strip.
“It would stop for a couple seconds and we thought ‘OK, we’re good’, and then we heard another 8-20 rounds go off and we could hear them ricochet off the tin roof we were behind,” he said.
Hinkle saw people jump over 10-12 foot tall fences to get out of the venue. He said many got injured trying to climb the fence and trampled, lost their shoes and cellphones, but they just kept going as bullets were streaming all around them.
“It was like ants when a light goes on; everyone just scattered,” said Hinkle. “It felt like everyone was 6 feet tall and there was no way I or my wife were risking getting trampled. I don’t know how close we were to making it out of there, but I don’t even want to think about that.”
Hinkle is a father of two and is the owner and operator of Douglas County Radiator and Auto Air in Gardnerville.
“When we had gotten back safely we were glued to the TV trying to figure out what had happened,” he said.
According to reports, suspect Stephen Paddock, 64, shot into the crowd for 10-15 minutes.
The suspect was found dead in his hotel room with a self-inflicted gunshot wound where law enforcement also recovered 23 guns. An additional 19 guns were discovered at Paddock’s home in Mesquite.
At least 58 people were killed and over 500 were injured Sunday night.
This incident surpassed the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting as the deadliest mass shooting in the United States.