‘I Was Just Going to Bed When the Shooting Started’

‘I Was Just Going to Bed When the Shooting Started’

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Floyd Conrade, of Emporia, Kan., checked into the Mandalay Bay on Sunday night. Right above him was Stephen Paddock.

Credit
Eric Thayer for The New York Times

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LAS VEGAS — Floyd Conrade, 50, a storage administrator for information technology from Emporia, Kan., checked into the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Sunday night. He was in town for a four-day conference, and assigned to Room 31-134.

He, of course, had no idea what was being planned directly over his head. Hours later, a man on the floor above — in the conjoined rooms of 32-134 (a standard room) and 32-135 (a 1,705-square-foot suite) opened fire on a crowd attending a country music concert across South Las Vegas Boulevard. In each room, the man, Stephen Paddock, broke a floor-to-ceiling window to commit the massacre.

Physically, Mr. Conrade was as close to the gunman as anyone.

Q: Where were you when the shooting began?

A: I was just kicking back for the night, getting ready for bed. I heard the first volley go off. Like everyone else says, it sounded like fireworks. I went over the window and looked out over at the concert venue, and I didn’t see any fireworks. It was about the third volley that it kicked in that it was something more than fireworks.

Q: Could you tell it was right above you?

A: About the third time, it was really loud, right above me. My assumption is that was when he went over to the other window. That’s when I started hearing the actual echoes. Echoed from the reports off the outside of the building, I guess. It was much louder, much more intense. I could actually hear debris hit my window.

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Inside the Las Vegas Gunman’s Mandalay Bay Hotel Suite

His suite held more than 20 guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.



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Q: You think it was glass? Shells?

A: I couldn’t tell. I looked on the sill after the fact, but I couldn’t see anything. I could actually see the shadow of the curtain flapping in the breeze above me on Monday.

Q: What did you do once you realized it was a gunman just above you?

A: At that point, I stayed away from the window, in case anybody decided to return fire. It was like, let’s put something between me and the window. Once everything quieted down, I went and looked back out the window a little.

Q: Could you see people running? Falling? Screaming?

A: I wasn’t sure what the actual target was. I didn’t know if he was shooting at the concert venue, or at people on the street. The concert venue still pretty dark. I couldn’t see anything definitively at that point. I didn’t really know what it all looked like until the morning.

Q: How many bursts did you hear before the one that sounded right above you?

A: It was probably the third volley.

Q: How many more were there above you during the 10 minutes that he was shooting?

A: I know there was at least three, possibly four. There could have been more than that.

Q: So you believe he was alternating from one window to the next?

A: Yeah, yeah.

Q: Which one did he shoot from more?

A: I really don’t know.

Q: Would you remember if it was mostly one or the other?

A: I would think so. Seemed like he was going back and forth.

Q: Were you scared as it was occurring?

A: Concerned. The whole feeling of not knowing what was going on was keeping me at bay, I guess. I have a scanner app on my phone. I tuned it in and listened to scanner activity. After a while, there must have been enough people listening, and the internet was slow. I couldn’t tell exactly what was going on. I did hear on the scanner that an officer was shot.

Q: The police were checking floor by floor. Did they come to your room?

A: I tried to leave my room at one point. And there were police and security in the hallway. I stuck my head out, and they said, “You need to stay in your room.”

Q: Were they panicked at all, aiming guns at you, or just calmly tell you?

A: I wouldn’t say they were freaked out, but there was a strong sense of urgency.

Q: Was that when the shooting was going on out the windows?

A: (Pauses.) I think it was still going on. It took me a little bit of time to get my clothes back on, grab some things and head out.

Q: Tell me about the waiting and wondering?

A: It was pretty well quiet after that, until they started breaching the room. There was an explosion-type noise. They used, like, a flash bang to breach the room. When they breached the 2135 room it was loud. When they breached the 134 room, it actually put me on the floor. It was really loud.

Q: It physically knocked you to the floor?

A: I was sitting on side of bed, and when it went off I hit the floor. I didn’t know what was happening. Then I could hear people upstairs moving around, and moving things around.

Q: Could you hear them talking?

A: No, not talking. I could hear, like, glass breakage noises, crashes. Like they were moving furniture around.

Q: Did you ever worry for your safety? Once you realized the gunman was right above you, did you worry about stray bullets coming into the room?

A: Knowing that floor was concrete, I wasn’t afraid anything could come through the floor, necessarily. I knew the gunfire couldn’t come through the floor.

Q: There was a long stretch of time between the end of the shooting spree and the police entering the room. It’s unclear when the gunman shot himself. Did you hear any single gunshot?

A: (Pauses) No, not that I can be definite of. I know at one time before they breached the room, he shot down the hallway at an officer.

Q: You could hear it?

A: Yeah. but it wasn’t as defined. I could hear it. I did hear a few random shots here and there — at separate times, minutes apart. I remember hearing on the scanner that the officer had gotten shot. Heard that conversation going back and forth.

Q: But a single gunshot?

A: To be honest, I’m not sure. It’s entirely possible. There were never multiple semiautomatic type fire once the full-auto stuff stopped. It was pretty much silent. Just a few random shots.

Q: Did you call police or the hotel desk?

A: No, I didn’t. (Pauses) After I encountered the security in the hallway, I figured it didn’t matter. They were already there.

Q: Did you turn on your television?

A: I had it on, but not a news channel. I didn’t think about the news. I figured they wouldn’t have something on that fast anyway.

Q: When did you get here?

A: I arrived about 5 p.m., on Sunday. I checked into the conference first, and got to my room about 7. I grabbed dinner and got back to the room. I was just going to bed when the shooting started.

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