Texas country musician Josh Abbott was among the performers on the Sunday lineup of Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas. Around 4 p.m., Josh Abbott Band played a set promoting its new album, Until My Voice Goes Out. Afterward, Abbott, who is from Lubbock, retired to a room at Mandalay Bay Hotel, where the band was staying.
Later that night, Stephen Paddock opened fire from his 32nd-floor bedroom in the Mandalay Bay. The gunman killed more than 50 people and injured more than 400, making it the deadliest shooting in American history.
During the violence, which began around 10 p.m. during Sunday headliner Jason Aldean's set, Abbott tweeted that he was at the hotel and there was an active shooter near him. "Say some prayers," he wrote.
In a second tweet, he revealed that he and his band had been evacuated from the Mandalay but that his fiancée, Taylor Parnell, with whom Abbott had his first child in May, was still in the hotel. "They won't let me in, but she's safe," he tweeted.
This morning, Abbott posted two more updates that he, his family, and the rest of Josh Abbott Band were all home and safe. But, he emphasized, the memory of the experience is something they were all just beginning to grapple with. "I'll never unhear those gunshots," Abbott wrote.
The band also made a formal statement on its Facebook page Monday morning. The post shared more details of band members' experiences, including that the shooter had been in a room 12 floors above them and that except for Abbott, the Josh Abbott Band and its crew had been on the concert grounds during the shooting and witnessed much of the carnage.
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"Everyone in our band and crew are safe. I (Josh) had just left and was in the Mandalay Bay on the 20th floor with my fiancée during the shooting just a few floors away. The band & crew were on the concert grounds and saw people get shot," the Facebook post read. "Some of my crew members were hit with shrapnel, but not injured. We are deeply disturbed by this horrific act of violence and send our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families. It was a long awful night but we are blessed to be alive and healthy. Hug your loved ones tight."
Josh Abbott Band guitarist Caleb Keeter shared a personal statement to Twitter on Monday morning, revealing that the experience has profoundly impacted his attitude toward guns.
"I've been a proponent of the 2nd amendment my entire life. Until the events of last night. I cannot express how wrong I was," he wrote in a note on his phone, a screenshot of which was posted to Twitter. "We actually have members of our crew with CHL licenses, and legal firearms on the bus. They were useless. We couldn't touch them for fear the police might think that we were part of the massacre and shoot us.
"Writing my parents and the love of my life a goodbye last night and a living will because I felt like I wasn't going to live through the night was enough for me to realize that this is completely and totally out of hand," his call for gun control continued. "These rounds were powerful enough that my crew guys just standing in close proximity of a victim shot by this fucking coward received shrapnel wounds."