Valley residents' stories of survival during Las Vegas mass shooting

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Rich and Lisa Howard have memories of Las Vegas they will never be able to forget for all the wrong reasons. (KFSN)

Rich and Lisa Howard have memories of Las Vegas they will never be able to forget for all the wrong reasons.

"Blood and people falling to the ground," said Lisa.

"Covered in each other's blood and victims that were shot and just kinda immobilized but coherent," said," said Rich.

The moment the sound of gunfire and screams drowned out the music and Rich grabbed his wife's hand and they went into survival mode.

"There was so many rounds going off and initially, people's instinct was to get on the ground but I grabbed her and told her no, we gotta move," said Rich.

"I just remember him holding my hand and saying, don't fall, just don't fall," said Lisa.

At one point they took cover behind a generator-- after that, they looked for an exit but it was difficult to find.

"The things they designed to keep us safe, which are the controlled access points really hurt when it was time to get 20 something thousand people out of there quickly--everything was a choke point," said Rich.

Through all the chaos and carnage, Rich and Lisa remained calm -- years of law enforcement training helped them push through and rich's new career -- teaching people how to react to an active shooter situation also came into play.

"Everyone has those instincts but you have to figure out a way to control it and then make decisions on the information you have to try and survive."

It is firsthand knowledge, Rich will pass on to others, knowledge he gained during one of the worst night's in American history.

"For me that work is never going to be more important than now."

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Widespread panic and chaos, and Fresno?s Crystal Alaniz was in the middle of it.

What started off as a weekend trip to Vegas for many people, ended in tragedy. We saw plenty of families this morning greeting their loved ones at the airport, just thankful they are back safe--but it was sheer terror for the concertgoers who were in attendance last night.

Widespread panic and chaos -- and Fresno's Crystal Alaniz was in the middle of it. She said she feared for her life when a gunman opened fire during Sunday night's Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas.

"Hearing the gunshots was pretty traumatizing," said Alanis.

Crystal was there as part of a girl's weekend trip. She says they were all having fun when gunfire erupted during Jason Aldean's performance on stage.

"I didn't know where the gunshots were coming from. I thought there was multiple shooters because it sounded like he was right behind me. I saw the bullets ricocheting off the floor and the sparks flying up," said Alanis.

Just before the shots rang out, Alanis made the decision to go to the restroom. When she came out she saw bodies and blood everywhere and people running for safety.

"I didn't know what to do. I crawled under a trailer and under the bleachers and just kept praying and kept hoping I was going to get out of there alive."

While under the trailer Alanis had the wherewithal to get out her iPhone and record a message for her 11-year-old daughter in case she did not make it out alive. The video is dark because she did not want her phone's light to alert the gunman of her location and you can hear the gunshots in the background.

"Hayley I love you. Hayley love you."

With the help of strangers Alanis made it out safely. She reunited with all of her friends this morning and arrived back at Fresno Yosemite Airport where her mom and friend were waiting.

"At the time of the concert, we were right in front on the right side it could've been us. I'm also very saddened for the families that don't get to come home to their loved ones."

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A Clovis woman was in the middle of it all with her friends.

The Clovis resident says everyone took off running. She was going so fast, she lost her sandals, and was forced to run barefoot through the chaos.

"I thought they were on the ground chasing everyone, so i really thought at any moment I was gonna get shot."

Her friends went in a different direction, but she knew they were safe based on text messages in a group chat, as they tried to find her. Once Michele thought she was in a safe spot, she called her husband, back home in Clovis.

"The first time I tried to call him, was while I was still running and by myself. Um, because I didn't want him to hear about it on the news before he heard from me by any chance."

But that call was cut short when she says a massive crowd came from behind, yelling to run again.

"I hung up on him and kept running, and then, when I met up with this couple, I text him that I was safe and far enough away."

Michele says that couple, complete strangers--have been the only silver lining in this. They noticed she was alone and put her up in their home overnight until it was safe for her to go back to her hotel.

Now, she cannot wait to get back home to the Valley be with her family.

"I can't wait to hug my husband and my children. Yea, I can't wait to see if I can even make it back to my hotel yet to start the drive home."
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deadly shootinglas vegas mass shootingNevadaLas Vegas
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