Bodies lying motionless. People frantically crawling on the ground to safety. Bullets hitting the metal structure above her head after she found a place to hide.
In a post on Instagram this week, South Shore native Courtney McGrath described in detail the horrifying scene she found herself in as a gunman perched on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel sprayed bullets down on a crowd gathered for a country music festival Sunday night.
At least 59 people were killed and hundreds more were wounded in what officials have called the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
“I can’t get the images out of my head,” McGrath, a Silver Lake Regional High School graduate, wrote in her post. “I replay it over and over in my head. Such a great weekend turned into such a tragic night.”
McGrath, who could not immediately be reached for comment, said on Instagram that as the gunfire erupted at the outdoor venue she became separated from her friends. She eventually huddled beneath a structure with a group of strangers, who held her as she cried and bullets ricocheted nearby.
At one point, unsure of what could happen, she sent a text to her parents that said “I love you.”
“So much can change in a matter of seconds,” she wrote online. “Life is too short and you just never know.”
According to the Enterprise News, McGrath grew up in Kingston before she eventually moved to Las Vegas in 2010. A bartender at Intrigue Vegas, McGrath was in the middle of the crowd at Sunday’s concert, near the front of the stage where Jason Aldean was performing, when the chaos started.
McGrath told the Enterprise that at first people thought fireworks had been set off, as a pop-pop-pop sound echoed around the crowds.
“Then it got louder and closer. We all dove to the ground in fear,” she told the newspaper. “Then people around me were screaming, crying, holding family and friends, and then people started getting shot right around me.”
When the shooting stopped, first responders ushered McGrath and others who survived from the fairgrounds.
On Instagram, McGrath praised the people who came to her aid, and sent blessings to those who were killed or severely injured during the tragedy.
“Thank you to the first responders who helped me and everyone in such a crisis. The cops who ran toward the gun fire while the rest of us ran for our lives. Thank you!,” she said. “My prayers go out to everyone that was there, to family and friends of those who are hurt or didn’t make it. So grateful and blessed to be here.”Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.