This Reading man's decision to leave Vegas concert early may have saved his life

'By the grace of God we changed our minds'
Reading man won tickets to deadly Vegas concert
Posted at 3:05 PM, Oct 02, 2017

CINCINNATI -- Jason Aldean kept singing for about five seconds after the initial burst of rapid-fire gunshots crackled from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, peppering the first of shooter Stephen Paddock's more than 525 victims with high-caliber bullets.

Video from the scene shows Aldean pause with one hand on his microphone and the other on his guitar. A breath later, he flees the stage.

At that same moment, Jenny Coleman was quietly eating dinner in the lobby of the Mandalay Bay. She didn't know, even as authorities appeared to shepherd the hotel's guests into the theater, that the suspected shooter was 31 flights of stairs above her.

"We just wanted to get to a safe place," she said. "It was just so scary because you can't protect yourself."

Four blocks away, Steve Henry panicked as the chaos outside got closer to the Paris Las Vegas. He and his fiancee had won tickets to the Route 91 Harvest festival through a radio contest, but decided at the last minute they were too tired to stay for the entire Sunday program. They left -- they had seen Aldean just weeks earlier, anyway.

But the shooting, which would take 59 lives, made them part of the concert anyway. Fear washed down the street and over the Paris lobby, where Henry was playing slots before bed, in a wave. People started to scream. Henry bolted outside and discovered hundreds of people hiding outside under cars and dumpsters, squeezing themselves into the tightest available spaces on the street.

"We didn't know why we were running," he said. "Everybody was screaming. You were running from one machine to another to try to take cover."

Police herded them into a tennis court, where they stayed for over two hours as officers worked to contain the scene. Henry said he was stunned to learn that he and his fiancee could have been among the victims if not for their change of plans.

"My heart goes out to (the victims), and it's just sad that this had to happen on what was supposed to be a great day," he said. "And I really don't have any words."

Even as Clark County officials declared a state of emergency, Cincinnatian Dawn Woods said she still planned to board a flight for Las Vegas Monday night. She had promised her son she would take him for his 21st birthday, and the shooting didn't change that.

It did slightly change the itinerary. Woods said she and her son would focus their trip on helping the community affected by the attack. They'll be giving blood, for a start.

"(We'll) see if we can do anything to help the cause, to help the people that were injured and those families," she said. "Because it matters. If everybody does a little bit, nobody has to do a lot and every little bit helps go the extra distance to help somebody."