As a gunman fired at a sea of thousands of people at an open-air concert in Las Vegas, Jake Owen was among them.
As the country star recalled to Today's Matt Lauerand Savannah Guthrie via telephone Monday morning, he had been on stage at the final concert of the Route 91 Harvest Festival Sunday night when identified gunman Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old resident of Mesquite, Nevada, began shooting at the crowd of 22,000 concertgoers, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
"Unfortunately, I ran the opposite direction from where my shelter would be, which is my bus, which was on the opposite side of the stage," Owen, who had performed earlier in the night, described.
"I just ran, like everyone else. At one point, I was crouched down behind a cross bar with about 20 other people that were—you know, people that come to the show—and everyone was asking if everyone was ok. There was blood on people and you could see a couple folks in the streets that looked like they had been shot, lying there. It was literally like a movie that you feel like you've seen before that's not real life."
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While there are differing reports of how long the shooting lasted, Owen estimated it took "close to ten minutes."
"It went on for a good four, five minutes before I got back to, luckily, to a bus that was safe in a crew parking lot," he continued. "I got back to the bus and once I got on the bus, we were hiding in the bus because you could still hear gunfire outside. It wasn't something that just was quick. It was chaos for seven to ten minutes."
As authorities have confirmed, Paddock shot at the crowd from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, where he had broken through two windows. In the middle of the chaos, victims could not figure out first if it was, in fact, gunfire, and secondly, where the gunfire was coming from.
Praying for everyone here in Vegas. I witnessed the most unimaginable event tonight. We are okay. Others arent. Please pray.— Jake Owen (@jakeowen) October 2, 2017
As Owen recalled on CBS This Morning, security had been "pretty tight" because Jason Aldean, the night's headliner, used pyrotechnics in his show and "I think the Fire Marshal didn't want a lot of people backstage."
When the first shots were heard during Aldean's performance, "I thought it was perhaps the pyrotechnics," Owen explained to co-anchor Gayle King. However, the crowd quickly realized that was not the case. "That's when you knew it was not the pyrotechnics and it was someone shooting an automatic rifle."
"We were in the middle of it when the shots started being fired and you could hear it ricocheting off the top of the roof of the stage," the singer told King. "We started just running in any direction we could because you didn't know where it was coming from, if someone was on the ground—you didn't know where it was coming from."
As Owen continued, "Just the fear in everyone's eyes—the feeling of everyone looking for someone to make sure they were ok was..it was just…I've just never experienced anything like this before."
As authorities piece together the motives of the dead perpetrator and the country mourns the loss of 50 victims, Owen advises against fear.
"I'm just a guy that sings songs. I write songs to the best of my ability about the things I know in life. I think it's important for us in a simple way we can say it to those out there that come to these shows every weekend and every week and they bring their families—to not be scared of this," he told King. "We're still going to get out there and do this. This is so unfortunate that these things like this have to happen in order for us to really see that this kind of thing is real."
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