APTOPIX Las Vegas Shooting

A woman sits on a curb at the scene of a shooting outside of a music festival along the Las Vegas Strip, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. Multiple victims were being transported to hospitals after a shooting late Sunday at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip.

Associated Press / John Locher

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Fred Byrd remembers hearing what chaos unfolding sounded like.

Byrd, a 27-year-old UF alumnus now living in Las Vegas, took to the police scanner app on his Android at about midnight, just after his friend Tony texted him to warn him of the mass shooting that happened two hours before.

For about a half hour, the Byrd listened from inside his Henderson, Nevada home, about a 20-minute drive away from the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert, as officers responded to calls early Monday morning.

At first, it was two concertgoers confirmed dead, multiple injured and at least one suspect found dead. Police weren’t sure at first it was just a lone shooter or a widespread attack, he said. No one was sure if the gunfire had stopped for good yet.

Then it was a number, 419 — the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police’s code for a dead body. Byrd said officers at the festival reported that number back at least six times in the time he was listening in.

“I remember hearing that over and over again,” Byrd said. “It was really cold, very chilling the way they were describing it.”

Having just moved to Las Vegas from Gainesville last year, he said he feels like mass shootings are happening everywhere. Byrd was finishing his master’s degree in mathematics at UF when the Pulse nightclub shooting happened in June 2016.

Now, yet an even deadlier shooting took place across the street from where he used to work just last month as a slot machine mathematician for entertainment company Konami, he said. His office building in downtown Las Vegas was less than 3 miles southeast from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

“I used to see that place every single day; we were just down the street from it,” he said. “The death toll in this place is just staggering, and off-putting. If I still worked there I don’t know if I’d be able to go in today.”

One UF student was injured in the deadliest mass shooting in American history in Las Vegas.

Kristin Babik, a third year law student at the UF Levin College of Law, is in stable condition after being shot at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Sunday. According to an email from the law school’s Dean Laura Rosenbury, Babik suffered from a collapsed lung and broken ribs. The shot missed her spine and other major organs.

Rosenbury has been in contact with Babik as she rests.

“We look forward to welcoming her back to Gainesville as soon as she recovers,” Rosenbury wrote in the email.

UF spokesperson Steve Orlando said Babik was a UF undergraduate student as well. She studied criminology and psychology, graduating in May 2015 cum laude.

Shian Knuth didn’t know Babik well when the two were in Phi Mu together at UF. But when Knuth, a Las Vegas resident, heard Babik had been injured, she drove over to the hospital.

“What if this poor girl is all alone in Vegas?” Knuth said. “Can you imagine waking up in a hospital and not having your mom or sibling there?”

Since about 8 a.m., Knuth and another of Babik’s friends have been in the hospital room with Babik. Knuth said she’s in and out and is still in a lot of pain. Knuth said Babik wants to get better and has been asking about when she can get back to school.

From her apartment last night, Knuth heard the police sirens and distant shouts of “move, move, move!” She called all her loved ones to check on them, then settled in for a night of restless sleep.

“It was surreal,” the 26-year-old said. “When I woke up I was a lot more shaken.”

Knuth started a GoFundMe, called “Help Kristin, Vegas Shooting Victim,” with Babik’s permission. The money will help cover medical bills and travel costs for Babik’s family, Knuth said. The fundraiser reached more than $9,000 in six hours.

“Something really horrible happened,” Knuth said. “And this person needs help. And people sometimes are great, and they help.”

One of Babik’s friends, Matt Rumack, described her as energetic and friendly. The two worked together at the University Athletic Association from 2011 to 2013.

Rumack said Babik is always called either “K-Babs” or “Babs” by her friends.

He knew Babik had been in Las Vegas for the past few months and had posted concert videos to her Snapchat the past few nights. He immediately thought of her when he heard the news. Babik’s brother posted to her Facebook to mention she was hit and in the hospital.

“Obviously, your heart sinks at that point, knowing somebody you know is involved, because you never really think that’s going to happen,” the 28-year-old UF alumnus said.

The shooting has killed at least 58 people and injured over 500, according to the Los Angeles Times. The lone gunman, Stephen Paddock, was found dead in his hotel room by police. The FBI said there is no evidence it was an act of international terrorism.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America held a candlelight vigil outside of Gainesville City Hall at about 7 p.m. Monday.

Terry Fleming, a co-president of Pride Community Center of North Central Florida, announced that the center will donate 500 candles and candle holders to the vigil. Some of the candle holders are being reused from the vigil held 15 months ago for the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando.

The Pulse shooting was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States until Las Vegas. Fleming said he was dumbstruck when he saw Facebook comments Monday morning about the shooting.

“It makes you think of Pulse,” he said. “It’s the same senseless slaughter for reasons we probably never fully understand.”

Fleming said he worries about how ubiquitous mass shootings have become in the country. The Las Vegas shooting was the 237th mass shooting nationally in the past year, according to CBS News.

“When we become inert, when this is normalized, we stop caring,” he said. “I hope that’s a place we never get to.”

Romy Ellenbogen, David Hoffman and Meryl Kornfield contributed to this report.


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