'Horrific': Witnesses with Hawaii ties recount Vegas attack

'Horrific': Witnesses with Hawaii ties recount Vegas attack
Published: Oct. 2, 2017 at 10:19 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 3, 2017 at 10:15 AM HST
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Increased police presence at the McCarran International Aiport (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Increased police presence at the McCarran International Aiport (Image: Hawaii News Now)

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA (HawaiiNewsNow) - UH Manoa graduate Jeff Christerson was among the 527 injured when a gunman started firing into a crowd of 22,000 country music fans in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

His girlfriend, Jenna Kroboth, says they dropped to the ground and Christerson shielded her.

"When we would think it was safe to get up, he would peek up and some people in front of us were getting up and as soon as they did, they were shot down," said Kroboth. "It was the most horrific thing I've ever seen."

Kroboth says Christerson suffered a minor gunshot wound in his neck. They drove from Las Vegas to Irvine, Calif. to get medical help.

"It hit kind of the earlobe area and he was just bleeding down his arm holding his neck," Kroboth said.

Hawaii News Now also confirmed former Waipahu resident Ashley Quiocho was shot twice.

Her mother said she's resting Monday night and will undergo surgery Tuesday.

Maui native Tara Spangler was at a restaurant across the street from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino when all hell broke loose.

"There was just blood everywhere, and it wasn't even their blood," she said.

Spangler said as people were running across the street in her direction, she could see them getting shot at in the street.

"People had splats of blood on their face and there's people screaming, so I ran upstairs and hid in a closet with some random group of strangers because I didn't know what was going on."

Spangler is among a host of witnesses with Hawaii ties in Las Vegas — affectionately known in the islands as the "ninth island" — who are recounting what they heard and saw after a gunman opened fire at an outdoor country music festival on Sunday, killing 59 people and injuring more than 500.

Honolulu Realtor Laura Hankins was at the Mandalay Bay Center concert stage when she ducked into the casino to grab some club sodas.

Moments later, police officers zoomed past carrying guns.

HOTLINE for families looking for missing loved ones: 1-800-536-9488

"The crowds started running," said Hankins, who arrived back in Honolulu on Monday afternoon. "We thought it was a robbery."

Nikita Ronolo, who has family in Hawaii, was at the concert with her boyfriend. She said they ran for their lives when shots rang out. Near her, she said, a man was shot in the head.

"(He) just dropped to the floor on his back in front of me. Blood everywhere, and I had blood on my dress."

Ryan Rego was watching a show at Mandalay Bay when, about halfway through, it was suspended. The theater was then put into lockdown and viewers were instructed to get down on the ground.

"We were the only people in the hotel left," Rego said. "Everybody started screaming and panicking."

The group was finally allowed out of the theater about 5:30 a.m. Monday.

"I'm just glad to be home," said a relieved Rego, after getting off a plane from Las Vegas at Honolulu's airport.

Former Hawaii News Now reporter Rob Young said on Monday morning that he and his friends were at the New York-New York Hotel at the time.

"All of a sudden, people started screaming, running about, saying someone had a gun," Young said.

He hid behind a slot machine and heard rumors about multiple gunmen running around.

"People were walking around in a stupor, people were crying," he said.

The gunman, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock, was perched on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay when he fired a barrage of bullets at the outdoor concert. The retired accountant from Mesquite, Nevada, killed himself before officers stormed Room 135 in the gold-colored glass skyscraper.

Authorities shut down part of the Las Vegas strip and Interstate 15 during the investigation.

"It's just been an unbelievable, crazy event," Young said. "You can't imagine."

Members of Hawaii's Congressional delegation and other Hawaii leaders have expressed their condolences to the victims of the worst shooting in modern U.S. history.

Gov. David Ige ordered all flags to fly at half-staff on Monday in response to the shooting that he described as an "unbelievable act of mass murder in Las Vegas."

"We call it the 'ninth island' because we have so many family and friends living there, and most of us have visited for entertainment or for business," Ige said, in a statement. "Today we grieve with those who have lost loved ones and pray for the injured."

This story will be updated.

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