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Las Vegas Residents Show Up In Droves To Donate Blood After Massacre

Oct 2, 2017
Originally published on October 2, 2017 11:58 pm
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

There were more than 20,000 people at the outdoor concert last night when the shooting started. It was during the last act of a three-day country music festival. It's one of the many festivals that makes Las Vegas Las Vegas. The horrific events have put a shadow over the usually festive city. NPR's Nathan Rott is in Las Vegas just down the street from the Mandalay Bay and the outdoor venue where the shooting took place. Hey there, Nate.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: Hey, Kelly.

MCEVERS: So what's it like there today?

ROTT: It's kind of surreal. I mean I'm standing right in front of the Luxor, which is that pyramid-shaped hotel you see in - if people have been to Las Vegas or if you looked at any of the pictures, which is right next to Mandalay Bay. I mean, I actually can look up right now at the kind of the gold plating and windows in Mandalay Bay and see where the two windows that the gunman broke out. You can see the windows there.

And it's - there's a lot of people that are walking back and forth, some people that are taking pictures, some people that are dragging luggage. It looks like they're leaving. And the mood is really somber and stunned. It kind of feels like people are walking to and from a wake. I mean, I'm just going to stop talking for a second. Bear in mind, I am on Las Vegas Boulevard. So that's - I mean, this is the Las Vegas Strip. This is what...

MCEVERS: Yeah.

ROTT: ...It sounds like right here. It's absolutely quiet. I mean, granted I'm at the south end of the Strip, but this is not how it usually sounds.

MCEVERS: Wow. When you do talk to people, what are they telling you?

ROTT: A lot of people aren't all that keen to talk. You know, I think people are kind of still stunned and figuring out their thoughts on it. But as some of the folks I've talked to, they describe kind of what happened to them last night. I haven't talked to anybody that was at the concert yet sitting here. I've seen some people that look like they were. They were wearing the wristbands, but they didn't want to talk to the press.

People that had stayed in recent casinos all around here were describing getting these alerts on their phones basically saying some event was happening and to shelter in place and kind of feeling panicked and stunned not knowing - should I go to my room? Should I stay in the casino? What should I do?

I talked to a guy from Ohio who is here with his family, and he's staying at the Tropicana, which is kind of right across the way. And he says, you know, he looked out his window this morning. He could see the two windows that have been broken out - and just really spooked him and kind of put a funk on his day and his vacation.

MCEVERS: I understand earlier today you went to a blood donation center. We've heard public officials and law enforcement, you know, during these press conferences asking people to give blood. And we've heard that there has been a good response. Is that what you saw?

ROTT: Oh, yeah. It was incredible. I mean, I've been to more of these mass shootings than I care to count. And this is something that happens at all of them, but I've never seen a turnout like the one that I saw earlier today - I mean, hour waits. I was there around noon local time, and I heard people who had been there in line since 6 a.m. People had apparently started showing up there at 6 a.m.

And so, you know, some of the people that couldn't give blood, they were - you know, if they'd gotten a tattoo recently or something else - they were handing out water, sandwiches, cookies. I saw a lady who was dabbing sunscreen for people.

MCEVERS: Wow.

ROTT: And one of the things that I think is important to note is that the people at this donation center are locals. I mean, where I am here on the strip, most of these folks are tourists. They're people that are going to be gone in a few days and a few weeks, you know, with the exception of the people that work here.

And the people at this - but the people the donation center - all locals. And there are people that want to feel like they can kind of punch back this tragedy that happened in their city. And that seemed like - from the people that I talked to, that was their way of doing it.

I want to hear from two guys - Wesley Devries and Korye Blackmon. They both have Type O blood, so they're a hot commodity. And they thought it would be a good way to help. And I asked them if they were at all shaken by what happened last night, and here's what they said.

WESLEY DEVRIES: I have two young daughters. He has one on the way. So it definitely puts things in a different perspective. But if there is any silver lining to something like this, it's just seeing how people do come together.

KORYE BLACKMON: This is - it's just crazy. I mean, you see the videos. I have some friends that were there. And you know, right before all this happened, they posted a picture of, you know, everyone having a good time. And that's just - it's just crazy. It's supposed to make you not want to go out and do anything, but, you know, you still have to.

ROTT: And so that's something that we heard from a lot of people.

MCEVERS: That's NPR's Nathan Rott in Las Vegas on the Strip. Thanks a lot.

ROTT: Thank you, Kelly. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.