The brother of an Australian MP has described the terror when a gunman rained down bullets on a country music festival in Las Vegas.
Brenton Wingard was with his wife Jessie and their friends in the crowd of 22,000 at the close of the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival on Sunday.
Stephen Craig Paddock was staying in a suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.
Then, after using a hammer to smash windows in the room and armed with at least 10 rifles, opened fire as headliner Jason Aldean was performing – killing 59 and injured 527 more.
At first, Mr Wingard – the brother of South Australian Liberal MP Corey Wingard – assumed the noise was fireworks, he told ABC Radio Adelaide.
Brenton Wingard (pictured) has described the terror when a gunman rained down bullets on a country music festival in Las Vegas
But Mr Wingard, who now lives in Nevada with his wife and three children, quickly realised something serious was happening.
‘As I look over, I see someone giving someone CPR, which just didn’t look good,’ he told the station.
‘Next thing, Jason Aldean runs off the stage and people just start running as fast as they can.’
Mr Wingard said he and his companions were ‘sort of trapped.’
They could go up a few stairs – ‘the last thing in the world we wanted to do, get higher’ – or through a gate area that was blocking us.
‘If we’d gone through that gate, we would have run right into the worst of it, so we were, luckily enough, sort of trapped.’
Mr Winhard lay on his wife’s body to protect her as they hid underneath bleachers waiting for the attack to be over
Instead, they opened up a side of the bleachers and crawled underneath to hide – along with a girl who had lost her friends and her phone.
He added that he suspected that the gunfire was coming from the Mandalay Bay hotel, but wasn’t sure.
Others were convinced that the shooter was walking around – and as a result, were screaming to people to turn their phone lights off.
Mr Wingard is the brother of South Australian Liberal MP Corey Wingard (pictured)
‘A few people walked in underneath those bleachers and had their phone lights on looking for people to help, and it looked like someone walking in to start knocking people off,’ Mr Wingard added.
He lay on his wife’s body to protect her, he added.
Eventually, he and his friends left the venue – and he urged them not to look at the carnage around them.
One of his friends hailed an Uber to take them all home.
‘It was surreal sitting in a car, going ‘what just happened?’
‘We’ve got three beautiful kids we got to hug when we got home. We’re the luckiest people alive.’
Australian Brian Hodge’s room in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino was next to the shooter’s.
Mr Hodge says he was staying in room 32134 while the gunman Stephen Paddock was in room 32135.
‘It was a machine gun from the room next to me,’ he told News Corp.
‘For the first time in my life, I had no idea what to do. I didn’t know whether to stay put, to walk, to get up and leave.’
Ms Kamber (right) and Ms Ratahi (left) had just ordered at the Outback Steakhouse, a five-minute drive from the Mandalay Bay hotel, when the restaurant went into lockdown
He said he fled the hotel and hid outside.
‘My floor is a crime scene. They killed a security guard on my floor.’
‘I was just hiding waiting for police to come get us. We were hiding in the bushes outside waiting for the police,’ he said
Two young women from Darwin were also caught up in the deadliest mass shooting in US history.
Sharon Kamber and her friend, Miss Universe NT finalist Artia Ratahi, were dining on the Las Vegas Strip close to the country music festival when the shooting began.
Sharon Kamber and her friend, Miss Universe NT finalist Artia Ratahi (pictured together), were dining on the Las Vegas Strip close to the country music festival when the shooting began
The pair, both 21, had just ordered at the Outback Steakhouse, a five-minute drive from the Mandalay Bay hotel, when the restaurant went into lockdown.
‘We were stuck in the restaurant for a good three hours, until about 2am,’ Ms Kamber said.
‘My friend was able to be a lot more calm than I was. I called my parents… half in tears, telling them I loved them.’
Ms Kamber said at the time there were rumours of two more shooters in the area.
‘They told us that nothing’s clear but we could leave at our own risk,’ she said.
‘We were very scared. It was hard not to break down.’
The two-minute walk back to her hotel was ‘horrifying’, with police lining the deserted strip every few metres.
‘It was an eerie feeling – such a lively place was so dead.’
Miss Universe NT finalist Artia Ratahi (pictured at a Las Vegas pool party) was stuck in a restaurant with her friend until 2am
The Northern Territory promotions worker said it was a ‘very American’ way to end a six-month trip to the US, and she was happy to be flying home.
‘You always see on the news that America has issues with their guns laws, it’s just crazy they’re not doing much about it,’ Ms Kamber said.
‘I wasn’t too surprised that something like this was happening, which is saddening to say.’
A family who were caught up in the tragedy said it was the ‘scariest night of our life’ and that they were forced to walk with their hands up across an empty casino.
Kevin Comerford, Nicole Shipman and her daughter Maddy Aspinall, 14, from Grafton in NSW, were in Las Vegas for one night only after a dance academy tour in the US had finished.
They rode in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon on Sunday afternoon and then returned to their hotel, about two blocks from the shooting scene.
The family headed out to see the city in the evening and witnessed a rush of people running down the street and police and ambulances swarming.
Mr Comerford said it took them about an hour to get safely back to their hotel and they bunkered down in the convention centre with other guests.
‘This was supposed to be a one night special stop because we’d never been to Las Vegas before … we were planning to live it up for one night and we’ve had probably the scariest night of our life,’ Mr Comerford told AAP on the phone.
Mr Comerford said his daughter had coped well with the ordeal.
‘That is until we got to the hotel and the police had us walk through the empty casino with our hands above our head and it became very, very real for her then,’ he said.
No Australians have been identified as victims of the massacre, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said.
‘We know that a number of Australians were in the vicinity or are in the vicinity, but at this stage and the situation is evolving, no Australians have been identified amongst the victims or those injured,’ she told Nine.