Two women with local ties and friends in Las Vegas spent difficult day

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Frank Schultz and Jake Magee
Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Callie Schouten spent most of Monday calling from her Milton home to make sure her friends in Las Vegas were safe.

Two of them were not.

Schouten said one friend was out of the hospital after being shot, while the woman's mother remained in intensive care in stable condition after being shot in the Las Vegas shootings.

Six other friends were in the crowd but were not shot. They told Schouten about the panic that ensued when people realized what was happening.

Schouten, who has performed on the Las Vegas strip, is a Janesville Parker graduate and professional dancer who moved back to her home area to start a dance studio.

Janesville native Julie Daun, who moved to Las Vegas two years ago, was just about to turn in for the night Sunday when news broke of the mass shooting.

For the next several hours, Daun followed news coverage.

“I didn't sleep all night,” she said.

Daun lives about two miles from the Mandalay Bay hotel, where a gunman perched on the 32nd floor shot into a crowd enjoying a country music concert. Despite her proximity, Daun didn't hear gunfire or sirens.

Daun spent the night watching the coverage unfold and worrying about loved ones. Daun's brother and his wife also live in the city.

“I didn't know if I knew people who were there,” Daun said. “It was just kind of the unknown. When you talk about the numbers of 50 plus people deceased … It's just pretty crazy.”

Daun knew a few people who had attended the show but had left not long before the shooting. No one Daun knows was hurt in the attack, she said.

Schouten is a professional dancer who worked in shows on the Las Vegas Strip when she lived there over the past five years.

Schouten said Monday afternoon she had been on the phone since 7:30 a.m. checking on her friends. She heard early on from mutual friends that her friend who was shot was in a hospital, but she didn't know about the woman's mother until about noon.

Schouten's friends -- dancers, singers and models -- were working in vendors' booths selling products at the concert. They had stayed to enjoy the music after their shifts ended, she said.

Schouten has not spoken to her friends who were shot. She did speak with some who were in the crowd and escaped with scrapes and bruises.

They described being at the outskirts of the main crowd when they heard the shots and thought they were fireworks. Then saw a panicked crowd running towards them, Schouten said.

Her friends turned and ran in the same direction as the crowd.

“It was chaos, absolute chaos,” she said.

They told her of the fear they felt as people ran for the exits or ducked behind objects. Two of her friends stood in a corner and decided they might be in danger, so they climbed a fence to get out, she said.

“The one thing everyone said was, the scariest thing was not knowing where it was coming from,” Schouten said.

Schouten spent most of the day on the phone, verifying that her friends were OK. By 3 p.m., she had not heard from two of them, but they were believed to have gone home early and might have slept through the morning, so they likely are OK, she said.

“Vegas seems like this big city. It's really not. Everybody has a tie to everybody, so when something like this happens, it really rocks your world. You just count your blessings,” Schouten said.

Schouten, who is also a choreographer, dance competition judge and instructor,  said the shooting will likely mean big changes in how Las Vegas handles security at entertainment venues.

“I can't even imagine how Las Vegas is going to change everything,” she said.

Daun works at the Clark County Department of Motor Vehicles, and customers seemed upset Monday morning, she said.

“It's pretty somber here, it seems. It's affected a lot of people,” Daun said. “It's close to home, and you just don't know.

“They recover quite quickly here, but it's going to be somber for a while,” she added.

It's uncertain how quickly the Las Vegas Strip will return to normal. The Mandalay Bay is in the southern end of the strip, which is a busy section, Daun said.

The Bay's casino has reopened, but the resort has remained closed. Some families are unable to access their rooms and their belonging, Daun said.

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