FAMU student in Las Vegas during shooting

By: Tiffany Lewis | WCTV Eyewitness News
October 2, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Ashley Jackson was having the "trip of a lifetime" up until the very last minute.

Jackson was in Las Vegas to celebrate her 21st birthday. She was in the McCarran International Airport ready to return home when shots rang out at the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel.

"An announcement came over the loud speaker telling us that there had been a mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay," Jackson said. "The airport was full of people, but managed to go absolutely silent for at least a minute. Then all you could hear were the videos of the shooting being played from hundreds of cell phones."

Jackson said that she immediately worried about her mother and grandmother, who had dropped her off at the airport just an hour earlier, and were staying in Vegas for one more night.

"I called my mom right away," Jackson said. "She actually didn't know what was going on because she was in a casino and there are not many TVs in there. But when I was on the phone with her, I heard them come on the loud speaker and put the casino she was in on lockdown."

Jackson's mother was staying at the Planet Hollywood hotel, but was unable to make it back to her room. The hotel and casino that she was stuck at put her in a suite for the night.

"I could hear people left and right calling their loved ones to make sure they were ok," Jackson said. "I was lucky my mom and grandmom were safe, but I know many others weren't so lucky."

The McCarran Airport is located in close proximity to the Mandalay Bay. There are multiple reports that say many people ran from the scene of the festival and tried to jump the fence at the airport to get to safety.

"I didn't personally see anyone jumping the fences, but I did hear multiple flight attendants talking about it," Jackson said. "I knew things were really serious when I saw a pilot sprinting through the terminal saying that no one was allowed in or out."

Jackson was finally able to return to Tallahassee Monday morning, about 7 hours after her flight was originally scheduled to land.

She says that she feels extremely lucky, but also absolutely heartbroken.

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