In the aftermath of Sunday night’s deadly shooting at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, friends and families of victims continue to come to grips with not only what happened, but how such a massacre could happen in what previously appeared to be safe place.
Two Canadians, including 26-year-old Jordan McIldoon of Maple Ridge, died in the initial shooting, but no Island residents were among the casualties. Sheldon Mack, son of retired Victoria broadcaster Hudson Mack, was among the injured, taking two bullets and suffering a ruptured colon and broken forearm. Sheldon was there celebrating his 21st birthday.
Countless other Canadians, including Victoria police Chief Del Manak and his wife, were among thousands of visitors to the busy Las Vegas strip who were involved in lockdowns as the shooting took place and in the hours that followed.
Reached Monday in Las Vegas, the chief relayed that he and his wife were attending a Cirque de Soleil show in the Mandalay Bay theatre, when the curtain came down halfway through the show.
An announcement about “technical difficulties” followed, but eventually, he said, audience members became aware through social media of what was unfolding outside the hotel.
People learned that police had shut down the hotel and were dealing with at least one active shooter, and that there were possibly some casualties, he said.
“Right away I knew it wasn’t just a [technical difficulty] of the show itself,” he added.
Within about 15 or 20 minutes, Manak said, eight heavily armed police officers came into the theatre and took up positions. One later gave very clear, but calm instruction for people to stay in their seats unless told to take cover.
“He said if a threat’s going to come through these doors we are going to engage them,” Manak said. He added the officer confidently stated, ‘Tonight we’re going to keep you safe, we got this,’ to which the audience erupted in applause.
The Victoria couple were in the theatre for more than four hours. Police warned the group not to use social media, which could give away the police position. Manak’s teenaged children texted from Victoria around midnight Sunday to find out if their parents were safe and Manak told them they were fine. It wasn’t until about 4 a.m., after they returned to a different hotel, the Treasure Island Resort, that he contacted them to give a more full account.
When Manak and his wife cabbed from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) gym where they were sheltered, the normally vibrant strip was quiet at 3 a.m. “You could shoot a cannon down the street,” he said. “Las Vegas is a city that goes 24/7 but everything was shut down.”
Manak said not only did the police do a remarkable job where he was and in the aftermath of the devastating incident, residents of Las Vegas were incredible. At UNLV, people showed up with blankets or offered rides to tourists and on Monday there were large lineups of people waiting to donate blood. With a heavy police presence along the Las Vegas strip, Manak said, he saw numerous instances of people shaking officers’ hands and thanking them for their efforts.
The Victoria couple were due to head home on Tuesday (Oct. 3).