Students at UNLV describe their terror and panic after gunshoots rang out.
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The sound of gunfire shattered the calm of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, leaving students and community members in a state of terror and shock. The bizarre happened on the fourth floor of the business school for Jose Lopez, a freshman who is eighteen years old. Shots were fired, breaking the normal day with a deafening boom. Lopez admitted, “I was scared, and my legs started shaking,” summarizing the terrifying events that followed. Momentarily frozen, he turned into a statue and ran to the third floor, hiding in an academic advisory office where a crowd of terrified people stood guard, hearts thumping in time.

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Twenty-year-old junior finance student Connor Friedman initially thought the gunfire was construction noise. As reality set in, the seriousness of the situation became apparent: there was a gunshot nearby. “At first, it didn’t even feel genuine. “It seemed as though they were fabricating the shooting incident,” Friedman recalled, his words still tinged with incredulity. He was brutally struck with the realization that people had perished in his building and school. An unimaginable tragedy now weighed down the familiar hallways.

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In an interview with a TV news reporter, the mother whose daughter had witnessed the horror firsthand revealed her raw emotions as the community struggled with the aftermath. “Hysterical” and shaken, the daughter had heard the gunfire, the agonized screams echoing through the old sacred halls of learning. The mother’s words carried the weight of a collective trauma, a pain too many people in a society struggling to deal with the nightmare of gun violence on a regular basis feel.

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The most horrific mass shooting in recent American history, which took place in Las Vegas six years ago, came back to haunt people in the wake of this tragedy. A horrific incident occurred at a country music festival in October 2017, leaving 58 people dead and hundreds injured. The community’s collective memory bears scars from that gloomy day, which were recently rekindled by the UNLV events.

In search of updates on their loved ones, relatives and friends lined the streets outside the campus, their faces etched with worry. The 26-year-old Jayden Rol awaited word concerning his sister Nicole, who sought safety from the chaos by hiding in a closet on campus. “You hear about shootings all the time,” he thought about, “and none of it makes sense.” The collective cry for compassion and relief reverberated through the depressing atmosphere during those excruciating moments of uncertainty.

The 28-year-old Jesus Medina was anxious to hear about his wife Stephanie, who was working in the English department when she received an active shooter alert. His prayer, silent and unheard by many, was, “Lord, please don’t let anything happen to my wife.” Fears were racing through his mind as he hurried to the campus. Such events take a psychological toll on people who are not directly affected by them but are nevertheless connected to them through shared experiences, friendships, and family ties.

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The terrible truth that at least three lives were lost in this senseless act of violence became clear as the investigation progressed. Sheriff Kevin McMahill of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department confirmed that the suspect was no longer a threat, but he acknowledged that the number of victims may have changed. The campus, which was formerly a haven for learning and development, turned into a somber and depressing place.

Following a tragedy, a community is left with deep emotional scars that cause them to struggle with feelings of grief, anger, and an uncomfortable sense of vulnerability. Another test is now in store for the resilient spirit that has defined Las Vegas in the wake of previous tragedies. The sounds of gun violence reverberate not only within UNLV’s walls but also throughout the country as people watch, compelling contemplation of a society in which such horrific incidents have tragically become commonplace.

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