Vegas vacation to night of terror

A vacation of celebration and fun turned horrifying and shocking when New Glasgow residents Leah and Kyle Samson joined Leah’s sister and her boyfriend in Las Vegas last week to celebrate two birthdays.

Jenna Vienneau and Liam Dunlop were excited to celebrate their shared birthday in Las Vegas with Vienneau’s sister and her husband. The group arrived in Vegas on September 28 and were set to leave October 3, the day after the couple’s birthdays. On Oct. 1st the group attended a pool party at their Vegas hotel, the MGM Signature, and went back to their condo to get ready for the evening. Although the group had decided before that they would go see the Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil show that night, they last minute decided against going. Leah and Kyle stayed at the condo while Vienneau and Dunlop went shopping on the strip.

Less than an hour before the incidents of that night, the couple returned from shopping and the group started getting ready to go to a club instead of the show. They were standing on their balcony overlooking the strip, the music festival and part of the Mandalay Hotel, where Stephen Paddock’s hotel room was, when the horror came.

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“We had just walked out on the balcony,” Leah said, recalling that evening. “It took a couple minutes for us to process it.”

As the four enjoyed drinks they began to hear popping noises and saw panic beginning to take shape on the festival grounds.

“We never really speculated it was anything other than gunfire,” she said. With the sound echoing from the buildings around them, Leah added that they thought it was multiple people because there was a lot of noise.

“We just Googled shooting Las Vegas and just refreshed the page to find out what was happening,” Leah said. After a bit, they called the front desk to find out what they should do once results from Google started confirming what they suspected. They were told to stay put in their room, that the whole place was on lockdown.

Sitting away from the edge of their 36th-floor balcony, they sat and watched as everything unfolded.

“It really took a while to set in, the severity of the situation,” she said, adding that thankfully, due to their distance away and how high off the ground they were, they thankfully never felt in any danger themselves.

They didn’t sleep much that night.

In the morning, after answering their phones dozens of times and responding to messages to let friends and family know they were okay, they saw people starting to head out to the hotel’s pool, that was how they found out the lockdown was over. It was later that they found out that their decision to skip the Michael Jackson Cirque show saved them from either being locked down in the theatre for hours or possibly being on the strip and locked out of their hotel.

“We were definitely a little freaked out though,” said Leah about the next day as they explored the strip. “Jackhammers made us jump a few times.”

“It’s definitely sinking in now what we experienced,” Leah said, sitting in her living room in New Glasgow where she, Kyle and their two kids live. “We couldn’t wait to get home and see our kids.”

Home feels very safe now to her, although she added that she never really felt like Vegas was an unsafe place to be before the incident.

“It was really jarring and it makes you really consider going anywhere in the States.”


From left, Liam Dunlop, Jenna Vienneau, Leah and Kyle Samson pose for a photo during their recent trip to Las Vegas. (Submitted photo)

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Heather Brimicombe
Heather Brimicombe is a Pictou County native and graduate from the University of King's College in Halifax with a Bachelor of Journalism Honours degree as well as a combined major in Sustainability. She has previously won a Canadian Communities Newspapers award for a multimedia feature and was part of a team nominated for a Canadian Association of Journalism data award in the investigative category. Photography, art, sports and outdoor activities are all hobbies of hers as well as crafting, and baking.