For Jaelyn Duran, the Route 91 Harvest Festival was a last-minute excursion. The three-day country music festival had been sold out for weeks, but she, her sister, Sarah Duran, and her sister’s boyfriend, Billy, managed to secure 11th-hour tickets to the event that attracted more than 22,000 fans to the famous Las Vegas Strip.
“It was a really, really good day,” Jaelyn Duran, 18, told ABC News, sharing how she took off from her job as a restaurant server to early Sunday to attend the concert. It was the first time that she and Sarah attended a concert together and they listened to a few acts throughout the evening and danced at a silent disco before pushing through the crowd to get as close to the stage as possible for a performance by the event’s headliner and one of the sisters’ favorite artists, Jason Aldean.
But the fun evening turned deadly when suspect Stephen Paddock, 64, opened fire at concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino across the street.
At first, Jaelyn Duran said she had no idea what was happening — the teen had never heard gunfire before. But when Aldean turned away from his microphone and abandoned the stage, confusion turned to fear.
“When he ran off, everyone kind of panicked,” Jaelyn Duran said. It was at that moment, as bullets pierced the air in a rapid staccato, that Jaelyn Duran realized she was in the middle of a shooting — one that would soon become the deadliest such incident in U.S. history, claiming 59 lives and injuring more than 500.
As the venue’s lights flashed on, illuminating the lot that hosted the festival, Jaelyn Duran looked next to her to see a woman she recognized. Moments earlier they had been standing beside each other, singing and laughing as Aldean performed. Now, the woman was on the ground, bleeding out from a wound to her back.
“I’m only 18, I shouldn’t be seeing stuff like that,” said Jaelyn Duran.
Suddenly, clutched by her sister and Billy, she was running away from…