NEW YORK — A New Jersey native who witnessed the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history from a Las Vegas hotel balcony spoke to PIX11 Tuesday about the horror she experienced.
Meghan Kavalus was in the Mandalay Bay Hotel Sunday night for business.
Unaware that a gunman had turned his room in the same hotel into a sniper's nest, Kavalus went onto a balcony to take pictures of colleagues when gunfire suddenly erupted.
"Oh my God. All these people are not moving," Kavalus is heard saying in cellphone video she captured of the incident.
Stephen Paddock had just unleashed hundreds of rounds from his room, ultimately killing 59 people - including himself - and injuring more than 500 others as thousands gathered near the hotel for the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival.
"As I zoomed in, I mean, you can see from the video clip, people scattering all around, and as they're scattering ... people pretty much piled up. There's just no mobility there whatsoever," Kavalus told PIX11.
SWAT immediately descended on the hotel, including the room where Kavalus and others hid.
"In my head, I thought that those could have been the shooters, and we all just scrambled and jumped over everything," she said of the group, who used furniture to hide behind. "There was a moment that came over me where I was like, holy cow, this could really be it — not knowing it was a SWAT team."
SWAT teams eventually found Paddock dead in his hotel room, after apparently killing himself.
Kavalus was able to leave Las Vegas after the ordeal, and spoke to PIX11 Tuesday in New York, where she recalled meeting survivors at the airport, including a couple who were at the front of the stage for country artist Jason Aldean when shots were fired.
"She said the worst part was when the lights came up and she noticed the guy in front of her had been shot multiple times and had collapsed, and everyone was covered in blood," Kavalus said of the woman at the airport.
During their conversation, Kavalus asked if there were multiple exits for the festival-goers to flee.
The woman replied, "there was no where to go. We were trying to climb over the fences that were in front of the stage, the barrier, and as the lights came up, and we were trying to climb, we were climbing over ..." Kalavus trailed off, alluding to the gruesome scene.
When the two parted, Kavalus said they exchanged numbers and she reminded to couple to keep talking about their experience.
"You do need to talk about it. It's going to help you to heal. Don't hold it all in. It's going to take time. And my heart just went out to her."
Editor's Note: This post initially stated 59 people had been killed by Paddock. Officials clarified Tuesday night that the 59 people included Paddock.