New York attack brings back memories for Lubbock family who witnessed Vegas shooting

New York attack brings back memories for Lubbock family who witnessed Vegas shooting

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Deadly attacks served as bookends for the month of October.

More than 50 people died and more than 500 were injured when a gunman opened fire on a music festival in Las Vegas on October 1st.

That attack is the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history.

On October 31st, eight people died and more than a dozen were injured when a man drove a rented truck into a bike path, plowing into bicyclists and pedestrians just blocks from the World Trade Center.

That was the deadliest terror attack to hit New York City since 9/11.

Jay Brown with the Lubbock Community Theater watched the news of the New York incident unfold on television.

"We have a friend who did theater here with us in Lubbock and now he is doing theater in New York, and he posted on Facebook that he rides his bike on that very bike path frequently," Brown said.

Brown and his wife, who love the theater, make an effort to go to New York every December.

"We went to New York in December of 2001, right after 9/11. We can't stop living," he said.

Watching the aftermath of the attack in New York brings back memories of the the Vegas attack just one month ago.

The Browns were at the Bellagio when those deadly shots were fired from the Mandalay Bay.

What was supposed to be a celebratory weekend, turned into a nightmare.

Brown and his wife Pam had flown from Lubbock to Los Angeles to see Hamilton for her birthday.

Then, the couple rented a car and drove to Las Vegas.

The Browns were staying at a hotel off the strip, but had driven to the Bellagio to see a show.

The Browns were in the hotel lobby when the shooting started.

"We heard all of this screaming and yelling and had no idea what was going on," Brown said.

Brown said he and his wife watched as people from the concert, Mandalay Bay, and nearby businesses ran into the Bellagio.

"Total chaos, screaming and yelling and then you hear bits and pieces of a shooting at Mandalay Bay," Brown said.

"At that time the shooting was still going on. We were all moved into a large, large banquet hall. Hundreds of us were in there," Brown said.

He began reading initial reports of the shooting on his cell phone as people gathered around to catch a glimpse of the article.

"It was very quiet because you are just kind of waiting and thinking and wondering what is going to be going on," Brown said.

Eventually, Brown said a Bellagio employee announced the shooter had been stopped and guests could return to their rooms.

The hotel's garage, however, remained on lock down because it opened up to Las Vegas Blvd. which was an active crime scene.

With no way to get back to their hotel, the Browns were discussing what to do next when they heard a crash.

Looking back, Brown believes it was just a table falling, but at the time, no one knew what it was, and panic erupted.

"We all went nuts, screaming and yelling. You have no idea, no idea. I grabbed her (Pam) and went around the corner and there was a bank of elevators and the elevator opened and we just got in, a whole mob of us" Brown said.

Brown said he and his wife got off of the elevator on the 12th floor and just sat in quiet for 15 to 20 minutes, not knowing where to go or what to do.

"A gentleman, a young guy came out of his room and said, 'Do you all not have a room?' We said, 'No,' and he said, 'Come on in,'" Brown said.

Brown's eyes filled with tears as he described how this man and his wife invited the Browns and twenty other stranded tourists into their hotel room where they waited for hours until it was safe to leave.

Brown said they remained in that room from around 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. watching news reports and answering calls from worried family members.

Brown said for the remainder of their trip they ran into people who had sought shelter and helped the wounded.

Exactly one month later, Brown said it is still surreal to think about.

As news broke of yet another attack, this time in New York, Brown said he and his wife watched the investigation unfold, this time from the safety of their Lubbock home.

As he continues to mourn for those impacted by these deadly attacks, Brown said, "We have to keep on going and doing. We have to keep going, don't we?"

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