Melanie Wright was at the concert with seven friends, five of whom hail from Bakersfield, when she heard slow pops, like someone was letting go of a couple of firecrackers – but it didn’t smell like firecrackers, she said.
Then, chaos. People started running. Wright thought at first there was a fight, then it clicked.
“I realized we were being shot at,” Wright recalled Monday after returning to her Bakersfield home from Las Vegas.
A crowd of people hit the deck. “It’s coming from the rooftops,” Wright shouted before something hot and sharp struck the side of her head – she suspects it was shrapnel from a ricochet bullet.
“I’m hit,” she screamed. She wasn’t bleeding. At that point, the music stopped. The reality of the situation set in. Wright and her friends got off the floor, linked arms and started to run for their lives.
“It felt like the bullets were following us. I thought they were in helicopters. It just felt like it was raining down on us,” Wright said. “It felt like a war zone.”
One of her girlfriends fell to the ground. She turned back, afraid she would get trampled by the crowd, but before she could crane her neck, a group of three people was already helping her to her feet, Wright said.
If there’s one thing Wright was thankful for that night, it was the overwhelming sense of human kindness she witnessed in the crowd at every turn.
“Nobody was worried about running for their own lives. People were stopping to help others as they were being shot,” Wright said.
She saw men leaping atop women to provide them cover as shots began ringing out, people performing CPR on strangers, two men carrying a girl who was shot in the leg, and others hauling off the injured on make-shift stretchers fashioned from concert barricades. Cab drivers loaded up their vehicles with victims and survivors to usher them to safety and wouldn’t take a dime, Wright said.
“That’s the only thing that will help me sleep. I saw that people can still be good,” Wright said. “It’s the only thing that’s going to help me heal.”