Las Vegas Route 91 Festival Tragedy: One Year Later

October 1, 2018

By Scott T. Sterling


October 1, 2017, marks one of the darkest days in the history of American music.

It was on that night, the final day of the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival during Jason Aldean’s festival-closing set when shots rang out, turning the fun, music-filled day into a massacre.

Shortly after 10PM Vegas time, 64-year-old gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on the festival grounds from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel and casino. Before turning the gun on himself, Paddock killed 58 people in the crowd. Another 851 people were injured by gunfire and in the chaos of fleeing the scene. According to the coroner's official report, all of the fatalities came from at least one gunshot wound.

"Thinkin about our Route 91 family today. #vegasstrong," Jason Aldean shared on social media today in remembrance of that tragic night.

The entire country music community recognized the moment today with a moment of silence at At 1:05 p.m. ET/10:05 a.m. PT across country stations, record labels, publishers, booking agencies and related organizations. The moment lasted for 58 seconds — one second for each of 58 people who were murdered during the Las Vegas massacre. All radio stations across the state of Nevada joined in recognizing the moment (via Billboard).

The entire city of Vegas has become a memorial, including a 5k run down Fremont Street, church services and a portrait event yesterday (Sept. 30). (via Las Vegas Review-Journal).

All of this healing and grieving comes in the wake of the tragedy changing the lives of the country music family in myriad ways.

"It's hard to comprehend," Luke Bryan said at the 2018 CMA Music Festival this past June. "[My wife] Caroline and I got out to go into the [CMT Music] Awards the other day, and it wasn't really a red carpet where fans could interact with artists -- you had to run across the street. I used to run over there and high-five the whole damn street. But my security guys were like, 'We don't like you running. We don't know what's over there.'" (via The Boot).

Survivors of that horrific day have formed their own tight-knit family, reaching out to each other for support as they deal with the ongoing trauma.

"There's a support system here in Bakersfield that everyone who was there needs to join," shared Rebecca Williams of Bakersfield, California (a large percentage of attendees at Route 91 were from California).

"It can be 2 am or a Saturday afternoon, and if you need to call, they're going to pick up the phone," added her friend, Michelle Little (via 23ABC News).

"We're one big family of people who never intended to be family but we're connected forever.”