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A Safe Place to Hide- An Account from the Las Vegas Shooting

A Safe Place to Hide- An Account from the Las Vegas Shooting

"There's a price to pay
For a safe place to hide
Tell me are you warm inside
Tell the truth, woman, just this time
It seems that things could've been different
But I can't change it"

Courtesy Nichole Sams

When “Alright Caroline” became available for download, I was mesmerized. I listened to it every moment of every day, for about two weeks.

 Courtesy Nichole Sams

Courtesy Nichole Sams

It’s still in my most searched library. As a long time Third Eye Blind fan, the one part of my life that the band hasn't sound tracked is motherhood. They’ve documented every other part of my life except that special part.

So you better believe that when I saw the headline of “ Third Eye Blind Unveil Never-Before-Head Track ‘Alright Caroline’ From Self-Titled,” my heart started pounding. The day was May 11th, 2017, a mere 3 days before Mother’s Day. I hit play. I listened. My eyes started to well. This was the best Mother’s Day gift I could possibly ask for. It was on repeat for… well I don't really have a date that it stopped being on repeat.

I was excited to write a post about looking into my child’s eyes and seeing someone else there. I hadn't quite digested the song enough to write about it. The lyrics meant so much to me. Then, the weekend of September 30th happened and one of those lyrics took a drastic turn for me. I still can’t listen to the song without thinking of the following story:

 Courtesy Nichole Sams

Courtesy Nichole Sams

I flew into Las Vegas, on October 28th, to photograph a wedding. I was looking forward to the sun, and pool filled days, and dazzling lights at night. The wedding was Saturday night. On Sunday, we lazily slept in. We grabbed some brunch, headed to a pool party, then went for a late night stroll on the Boulevard... you know, to soak in the sights and #RESIST and flip off the Trump tower.

 Courtesy Nichole Sams

Courtesy Nichole Sams

Nick was a few steps in front of me, as a young girl was frantically trying to talk to me. She was on the phone with her mom. She asked me if I knew what was going on, she said there was a shooter. Time stopped. I scanned the street. It was silent, no one was moving, every hair on my body raised, and my heart pounded through my chest.

Just at that moment, I heard someone yell, “SHOOTER, SHOOTER!” and then, the loudest noise I've ever heard. It was thousands of people screaming for their life and running in our direction. I told Nick to run and I turned and ran. Every action/alien/Steven Seagal movie played through my mind.

I needed a safe place to hide. I ran towards some doors and ran inside, I turned around and Nick wasn't behind me. A thousand thoughts ran through my mind. Do I go back out? No, I’m not bullet proof. Someone has to get home to our babies. I felt frozen and, right then, Nick ran through the doors.

We needed a safe place to hide. Most everything was closed because it was late at night. I pulled a gate, it was locked. I tried to open a door, it was locked. We needed to find a safe place to hide. Finally, there was a door that was unlocked and it went into some back hallway. We passed some employees. “There’s a shooter, what’s the protocol? Where’s a safe place to hide?” Blank stares from them. They ran into the hallway that we had just come from. We were on our own.

We need to find a safe place to hide. We ran towards some doors and I saw a kitchen. Immediately, I knew that hiding in a freezer, or behind a refrigerator, would be a safe place to hide. (At the time, I didn't know why that was in my head.) We made ourselves as small as possible and hid in silence. Behind us, the doors would open and we would hear thousands of people screaming. The door would close. The door would open and again, we would hear the screaming. The door would close. This went on for what seemed like an eternity. I started getting text messages from friends that were also in Vegas for the wedding.

24313325_10213346255824783_6042258753778407605_o.jpg

Courtesy Nichole Sams

 Courtesy Nichole Sams

Courtesy Nichole Sams

Is this place a safe place to hide? Every time the door opened, I was wondering if the shooters were on the run and if they would come into where we were. We sat in silence, holding each others hand, listening for the doors to open. At some point, we decided we should record a message for our kids, in case it wasn't over yet. It was so hard trying to figure out what to say to a 3 year old and a 5 year old. We kept checking our phones. For the longest time, they reported 2 people dead and 14 injured. We kept hearing there talk of more, but reports were so low. The night went on and on, it was close to 1am before we made it back to our hotel. As we headed back, all the roads were closed. If we could have caught glimpse of the grounds, we would have seen the bodies still laying on the ground. The count only stayed so low, because they hadn't counted everyone yet.

Looking back, we weren't actually in any danger. We were about a block and a half away, and I don't think we could have been reached. At the time, we didn't know that. There were reports that there were multiple shooters, in multiple hotels, all around us. We didn't even know where we were.

I keep hoping for change.

Now, when I go out in public, I check for safe places to hide. There’s a sadness in that. There’s a darkness in the reality that until major changes take place, no place is really a safe place to hide. Not a movie theater. Not a school. Not a church. Not a mall. Not an airport. Not a concert.

Not a concert.

Interview: Theresa Hacker

Interview: Theresa Hacker

Travis Wagner’s Misfit Ink

Travis Wagner’s Misfit Ink

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