LAS VEGASNetApp Insight, the multinational storage and data management company’s annual conference scheduled to begin Oct. 2 and run through Oct. 5 at Las Vegas’s Mandalay Bay, has been delayed after news broke of a shooter using the hotel and casino’s 32nd floor as his base.

On Monday morning NetApp CEO George Kurian sent an email to Insight attendees, also posted to the company’s Twitter feed, informing them that all events scheduled for Oct. 2 had been cancelled but that most of the conference’s future events would proceed as usual.

“I am shocked and saddened by the tragic event that occurred in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay last night,” Kurian wrote. “I am sure you all share these sentiments. My heart and the hearts of thousands of NetApp employees break for the loved ones of those affected by the terrible events.”

“My executive staff and I have been in consultation over how to move forward in light of these events,” he continued. “After careful consideration, we have made the decision to move forward with Insight beginning tomorrow morning [Tuesday, Oct. 3]… All Monday events are cancelled.”

“I encourage you to make the decision that is right for you about whether to participate or not. If you choose to participate, we look forward to welcoming you at Insight.”

NetApp initially responded to Sunday night’s tragedy, which has resulted in at least 59 deaths and more than 500 injuries, with a pair of tweets emphasizing its support for victims.

The incident began when, as reported by multiple outlets, 64-year-old Las Vegas resident Stephen Paddock began firing into a crowd of thousands attending the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival late Sunday night.

It’s believed that Paddock checked in as a hotel guest at Mandalay Bay, where he fired shots from a room on the 32nd floor that were aimed across the street at the festival’s outdoor venue, known as Las Vegas Village. He was later found dead by police.

According to a company statement shared with attendees, there have been no reports of NetApp Insight attendees or staff being injured.

Monday morning in pictures

The day after the shooting, two windows were broken on the 32nd floor, the vantage point of the shooter. Click for a larger version. (All photos by the author, who was staying on the building’s 11th floor.)
Police had cordoned off several nearby roads, including the entrances to both Mandalay Bay and its nearby sister casino, Luxor, and much of the city’s main street, Las Vegas Boulevard. (Click for a larger version.)
At the end of the Luxor parking lot, Las Vegas Village had been cordoned off as well. (Click for a larger version.)

How it felt to boots on the ground

Many Insight attendees experienced Sunday’s drama from the relative safety of their hotel rooms.

Tate Eith

That was the case for Comcast Technology Solutions’ Tate Eith, who said that he heard “what sounded like someone doing road work” shortly after arriving in his fourth-floor room at Mandalay Bay around 10 PM.

“Initially I was annoyed that they would be doing road work, and it wasn’t until I went on Reddit and saw that they had the live thread in there about Las Vegas… that I realized what had been going on,” he said. “And then I just stayed in my room the rest of the night.”

Sidney Modica

World Wide Technology Inc.’s Sidney Modica, who had already fallen asleep when the shooting began around 10 PM, described a more dramatic experience.

“I’m from the New Orleans area, so we went to bed at 8:30, because our bodies thought it was 10:30,” he said. “We were out, when all of a sudden we heard a ‘dut-dut-dut-dut.'”

“I was hearing the concert, so my first thought was maybe it was the fireworks show,” he continued. “I got up, walked back over from the window, and then I heard it again and was like, ‘that’s not fireworks.’ … I had my wife with me, and she said, ‘No, that sounds like a rapid-fire machine gun,’ which it was, and so we were like, ‘oh geez, what do we do?'”

The Modicas opened their room’s window, which looked onto Las Vegas Village, and could see the crowd running. They immediately started checking the local news, and once coverage began, started texting their family members back home.

Mandalay Bay from Las Vegas Village (click for a larger version).

“They may have been sleeping at the time, but we knew once they got up they would see the tragedy in Vegas and want to know if we were okay,” Modica said. “I haven’t been to sleep yet. I’m still living on the adrenaline high from the tragedy… and coffee. It’s terribly sad. I’m angry at the person who did it, of course, because each of those 50-plus people have family members and friends that are just heartbroken.”

Apple Inc.’s Dean Hickerson and Jeremy Shrewsbury never even made it to their rooms at the Luxor, Mandalay Bay’s sister casino across the street.

“We were on the tram between [the nearby casino] Excalibur and Mandalay Bay, trying to get back from dinner,” Hickerson explained. “We were actually feeling the gunshots in the tram. They pulled the tram back to Excalibur and we spent the night there in a conference room.”

Given its location, it’s not hard to believe Hickerson and Shrewsbury would have felt the gunshots from the tram. (Click for a larger version.)

“At around 4:30 this morning, they finally let us into the Luxor,” Shrewsbury said.

Wes Roberts

World Wide Technology’s Wes Roberts eventually spent his Sunday night at the Luxor as well, though he’d originally registered to stay at Mandalay Bay.

“My plane arrived just minutes before the shooting started… and my Uber driver tried every route you could possibly imagine, but every one of them the roads were closed, and we had no idea what was happening,” Roberts said.

By the time Roberts learned from his smartphone that a shooter was active, he and his Uber driver were stuck in traffic near Excalibur. So the driver dropped him off there, and Roberts made his way to the tram, which he discovered was closed, and was herded inside the Shoppes at Mandalay Place, a mall that connects to Mandalay Bay.

“I wandered through the mall, figuring the closer I get to Mandalay Bay the better off I’ll be,” he said. “But when I got to Luxor they ushered all of us into the basement as a lockdown.”

Those who had rooms at the Luxor were allowed to leave, while the rest were forced to remain until 4 AM, Roberts said.

“At that point they would let us leave the hotel, but not in the direction of Mandalay Bay,” he said. “They offered us rooms though for $29, so I grabbed one, and checked out this morning when I heard Mandalay Bay was back open.”

“The basement was no picnic,” he continued. “The hotel did what they could – they brought out cookies and rolls, and bottled water for everybody, and linens that people could try and curl up on, but there were way more people in the basement than they would have ever planned for, and some of the folks – you could see the looks on their face, they had seen stuff that people probably ought not see.”

Loren Simpson

Loren Simpson, who visited with her husband Nick, a consultant with TSP Inc., had the most stressful evening of our interviewees.

“We had just finished dinner at [Mandalay Bay restaurant] the Libertine… and we started walking towards the Shoppes… and then five officers started running past us saying, ‘active shooter – get down!’ So we started running towards [Delano Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay’s second tower]… and ended up hiding in the Luxor parking garage.”

There was very little communication between the police and terrified guests hiding in the garage, Simpson said, though they did pick up that there was at least one sniper nearby. After two hours of hiding, the police allowed the guests to exit, provided they walked in a direction away from Mandalay Bay.

In the Simpsons’ case, they wound up spending the night at the Courtyard by Marriott, a hotel approximately one mile south.

“It was very surreal,” Simpson said. “The helicopters, the cops just keep pouring in. We saw four of the big armoured SWAT vehicles with the treads… and we heard gunshots… pop-pop-pop-pop.”

Arriving at the Courtyard around 1 AM, Simpson said, they saw updates on television that initially said fewer than 10 people were dead and dozens were injured.

“We were like, ‘that was a lot of gunfire for only… is he a horrible shot?'” she said. “And so when we woke up this morning we were just – that’s more like it. It was insane.”

“It’s very weird to come back for the week,” she continued. “You want to be respectful, but your bones are also like, ‘you can go somewhere else.’ … I never thought I would ever have to run from gunfire in my life. Never. I have a dad that was in the army, 101st [Airborne Division]. I’m very comfortable with guns, but that was a whole different level. It was terrifying.”

Share on LinkedIn Share with Google+
More Articles