When Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire from a sniper’s nest perched 32 floors above the Las Vegas Strip, slaughtering at least 58 people, Floyd Conrade was “starting to wind down for the night” in the hotel room directly underneath the shooter.
Conrade, who was in town from Emporia, Kansas, checked into the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino Sunday night and was in his room on the 31st floor when Paddock began his rampage.
“Roughly 10:30 at night, I heard the first volley of shots go off. (I’m) thinking fireworks from the concert that was across the street,” Conrade said in an interview with Wichita’s KWCH 12 News on Tuesday. “Then they continue going off, and at that point, I realize those weren’t fireworks. It’s gunshots.”
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“The hardest part was just waiting in my room and not knowing for sure what was happening,” Conrade told the Emporia Gazette. “I looked out a few times, but then realized the shooting was coming from above me and thought I shouldn’t open the curtains in case the police had a sniper and may fire back. I didn’t want to open the curtain and welcome something I wouldn’t want.”
Paddock, 64, opened fire on some 22,000 people before police stormed the hotel room. More than 500 people were injured. Paddock killed himself before police entered his room.
Speaking with the New York Times, Conrade said at first he wasn’t sure what Paddock’s target was.
“I didn’t know if he was shooting at the concert venue, or at people on the street,” Conrade explained. “The concert venue was still pretty dark. I couldn’t see anything definitively at that point. I didn’t really know what it all looked like until the morning.”
Paddock had an arsenal of 23 weapons in his hotel room. A dozen of them included “bump stocks,” attachments that can effectively convert semi-automatic rifles into fully automated weapons.
Conrade told the Times it was “possible” he may have heard the shooter taking his own life.
“To be honest, I’m not sure. It’s entirely possible,” Conrade said. “There was never multiple semi-automatic-type fire once the full-auto stuff stopped. It was pretty much silent. Just a few random shots.”
Las Vegas police released an audio recording Monday of the moment tactical officers used explosives to breach the killer’s room at 11:20 p.m.
“We just hit on the suspect’s door. I need everybody in that hallway to be aware of it and get back. We need to pop this and see if we get any type of response from this guy to see if he’s in here or if he’s actually moved somewhere else,” an officer said.
The dispatcher relayed the message to all responding units to clear the area for an explosive breach.
“Breach, breach, breach,” an officer said moments before the sound of an explosion. “One suspect down in 135, floor 32 Mandalay Bay. I have the floor.”
Investigators have yet to determine why the high-stakes gambler carried out Sunday’s rampage, the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history.