A BAR owner from Chester who has just returned from Las Vegas has described his shock upon hearing about the music festival massacre.
Jamie Northrop, 34, had been with a group of friends on a week-long holiday in the city where they attended a similar open air festival just days before the shootings.
At around 10pm local time on Sunday a gunman – now known to be 64-year-old local man Stephen Paddock – opened fire on crowds from the 32nd floor of a hotel.
At least 59 people are confirmed to have died and more than 500 were injured in the attack at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. Paddock reportedly killed himself as police closed in on his hotel room.
Jamie, who lives in Blacon and runs Alexander's Live in Chester, said he had returned from the US at the weekend but woke up yesterday to hundreds of messages asking if he was okay.
He told the Leader: “When you wake up and then switch on the news it takes a while to process it and then your mind goes into overdrive. You start thinking about what's wrong with people. I just can't comprehend why anyone would want to do that to other people. My thoughts are with the victims and their families now.”
Paddock is said to have used an automatic rifle, which are legally available to citizens in the state of Nevada. The mass shooting is the deadliest in modern US history.
Jamie added: “The debate about gun laws in America has been going on all my life. Someone needs to do something to stop this type of thing happening now. It won't be easy but something has got to happen. Pressure needs to be put on the US Government.”
Jamie and his friends had attended the Life is Beautiful Festival – one of a string that have taken place in Las Vegas over recent weeks.
The central Strip – famous for its hotels and casinos – was packed with people drinking and smoking cannabis during the week Jamie and his friends were in town.
Security at the festival was tight but other than that there was a very low police presence on the streets, he said.
Some of the group of friends, who all met while studying at the University of Chester, were so shocked by what has happened that they have vowed never to return to the States.
“Certain members of our group would say they would never go back now but I'm of the opinion that you can’t let a gunman in Vegas or a terrorist impact on your life,” said Jamie.
“But of course it will always be at the back of your mind. With everything that has happened when you’re in a big crowd these days it is always in your head that something could go wrong.”
See full story in the Chester Leader