North East couple safe in Las Vegas as 50 die in mass shooting on Strip
A couple from South Tyneside were due to attend a concert at the Las Vegas hotel where a mass shooting, which has claimed at least 50 lives, broke out.
More than 50 people have died and at least 400 are injured after the attack, which began last night at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino on the Strip, at an outdoor music festival.
Steve Lewthwaite, from Jarrow is on holiday in Vegas with his partner Sarah Goodwin. The pair were due to attend the Michael Jackson One show tomorrow at the same hotel where the gunman opened fire.
The couple were out in downtown Las Vegas when they heard news of the incident.
Mr Lewthwaite, who runs record label The Smallest Label with South Tyneside band Little Comets, said: "As soon as the news came through we got an Uber back to our hotel at the North End of the strip.
"We received numerous messages from back home as people were waking to the news. We FaceTimed our families as soon as we got back to our hotel room.
"We will follow updates and advice as to what we do the rest of the week. On Tuesday we are supposes to be going to Mandalay Bay for the Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil show."
Dozens of patrol vehicles descended on the Strip after authorities received reports of an active gunman near the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
The suspect, 64-year-old grandfather Stephen Paddock, died at the scene. Las Vegas Police said they did not believe there were any other attackers.
Concert-goers reported seeing muzzle flashes from the upper floors of the Mandalay Bay Hotel across Las Vegas Boulevard from the music festival and the sound of what they described as automatic gunfire.
Among those killed were two off-duty police officers who were attending the concert. Two on-duty officers were wounded, including one who underwent surgery and was upgraded to stable condition, police said.
Mr Lewthwaite and his partner, who works for South Tyneside Council, continued: "I spoke to the hotel VIP Concierge as soon as we arrived back and they told me the hotel had heightened security in place.
"I was told there was a security team currently sweeping the hotel and they would remain throughout. I was told the hotel had the security of our hotel under control at our hotel and to just go to our room.
"I’ll be keeping an eye on the local news and speak to the hotel staff tomorrow before venturing out anywhere."
Hours after the shooting, Jason Aldean, who was performing on Sunday night at the time of the shooting, posted on Instagram that he and his crew were safe and that the shooting was "beyond horrific".
"It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night," Aldean said.
US president Donald Trump tweeted: "My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!"
Before Sunday, the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history took place in June 2016, when a gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people.