Yukon Party interim leader Stacey Hassard (centre) observes a moment of silence in the legislature to honour the victims of the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas. Hassard and his wife were in the crowd when the shooting started. Both escaped unharmed. (Jesse Winter/Yukon News)

Yukon Party interim leader among crowd during deadly Vegas shooting

Stacey and Shelley Hassard are safe, back in the Yukon following massacre

When the shooting started, Stacey Hassard, like many people standing around him, thought he was hearing fireworks.

“That first short volley that went off, both my wife and the lady next to me turned with panicked looks and I said, ‘Relax, it’s just someone shooting off some fireworks.’ I really did believe that.”

Hassard, the interim leader of the Yukon Party, and his wife Shelley were in the crowd at an outdoor Jason Aldean concert Oct. 1 in Las Vegas. That’s where a gunman, firing from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, began shooting bullets into the crowd.

Fifty-nine people died and hundreds more are injured, making it the among the deadliest mass shootings in American history.

“I guess the biggest thing I felt was fear, obviously,” an emotional Hassard said.

When he realized it was gunfire he was hearing, he and his wife laid on the ground for a moment before realizing that it was safer to try and get out of the area, Hassard said.

He described seeing frantic concertgoers.

“I guess my biggest concern, kind of weird to say but, I think I was more concerned with people running over one another than I actually was about the gunfire,” he said.

“So I was just trying to get people to calmly move away which might sound kind of stupid because there’s nothing very calm about a situation like that.”

Hassard said he and his wife found shelter near a bar that had been set up for the concert

“We got a desk and some tables flipped over and a few cases of bottled water. It wasn’t much but it was what was there.”

The pair managed to safely leave the arena and take a taxi back to their hotel.

“Nobody had any idea. We were (staying) down at the other end of the strip and when we got back there people had no idea that this was all taking place.”

Back in the Yukon, Hassard said he is glad to be home.

“I feel for all the people who are grieving and I’m happy to be home.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com