Jackson Griffin woke up to a text from his father at around 2 a.m. on Monday Oct. 2 informing him that his sister, mother and grandmother were all safe after a mass shooting occurred at the music festival they were attending in Las Vegas.
After learning more than 50 people were killed and over 500 more were injured in what is considered the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history, Jackson Griffin said he is grateful to have heard his family was safe before reading the news.
“I was thankful to hear they were okay, but I didn’t really know how serious it was until I turned on the news,” Jackson Griffin, a junior accounting major, said. “Once I saw how bad it was, I was just really thankful that they weren’t hurt.”
Jackson Griffin’s mother, Jennifer Griffin, and father, Chris Griffin, are both alumni of the University of Georgia.
Despite hearing details of his family’s experience during the shooting, Jackson Griffin said it is hard for him to comprehend what they, and many others, are going through right now.
“My sister was at the Mandalay taking her friend to an Uber. She went up into the hotel and my mom and grandma ran the other way,” Jackson Griffin said. “You hear about these things happening but don’t ever really think about it, especially here in Athens, it’s hard to really understand.”
Another UGA alumna in Las Vegas at the time of the shooting and a former managing editor for The Red & Black, Katelyn Umholtz, said the last report she heard before going to sleep had much lower numbers than the report she woke up to the next morning.
“Before I went to bed that night there were two people dead and there were 24 people injured,” Umholtz said. “By the time I woke up in the morning, it had gone up to 50 people dead. I didn’t expect to wake up to the biggest mass shooting in modern American history."
John Ingram, a former UGA student and president of the UGA Alumni Association Las Vegas Chapter, said he heard sirens while sitting on his patio seven miles from the Las Vegas Strip.
“I started hearing sirens, and I knew something was going on. I can see the strip from my house, and I started seeing cop cars,” Ingram said. “I was up until about three listening to the police scanner, and it was bone-chilling listening as they were going in, and they found the guy dead in his room.”
Throughout the attack and for many hours afterward, details about what had happened were unclear. Umholtz said she heard many different speculations about how many shooters there had been as well as other rumors.
“It was kind of unclear what was going on at first. I heard so many different things, like at first we thought there were multiple shooters,” Umholtz said. “There was even a report that there might be some kind of explosive at the Luxor hotel next door to Mandalay Bay.”
Ingram said he was overwhelmed when he saw how the community was responding to help victims and their families.
“There were people waiting 8 to 10 hours to donate blood yesterday,” Ingram said. “So many people were out buying donations that were needed as well.”