The sounds and images are rapidly becoming burned into our brains. The rapid firecracker-like popping of gunfire from an assault weapon, a crowd of tens of thousands ducking, lying on the ground or running for cover, and country star Jason Aldean performing, but looking to the side stage, distracted by the sound and action before removing his guitar and fleeing.
In approximately two minutes, nearly 600 enthusiastic country music fans, out for a night of fun at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, were felled by shots coming from a window at the beautiful Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino on the strip in Las Vegas. At last count, 59 of those victims were fatally wounded.
It’s a lot for anybody to process, especially those directly affected by this unexplainable horror, so it was no surprise and perfectly reasonable that the first comment that came from Jason’s camp was a well thought out, but brief statement. But now, 24 hours after this tragedy, Jason is finally stepping forward … and putting his foot down.
In a post on his Instagram page, Jason shared his disbelief and heartbreak.
“Over the last 24 hours I have gone through lots of emotions,” he writes. “Scared, anger, heartache, compassion and many others. I truly don’t understand why a person would want to take the life of another. Something has changed in this country and in this world lately that is scary to see. This world is becoming the kind of place I am afraid to raise my children in,” added the father of two daughters, whose wife is pregnant with their son.
The country superstar then issued a challenge: “At the end of the day we aren’t Democrats or Republicans, whites or blacks, men or women. We are all humans and we are all Americans, and it’s time to start acting like it and stand together as ONE! That is the only way we will ever get this country to be better than it has ever been, but we have a long way to go and we have to start now.”
Jason also had specific wishes for the victims of this nightmare. “My heart aches for the victims and their families of this senseless act,” he said. “I am so sorry for the hurt and pain everyone is feeling right now, and there are no words I can say to to take that pain away. Just know you all are in my heart and my prayers as we all go through this together. Time to come together and stop the hate! #stopthehate #prayforlasvegas.”
Our hearts go out to the victims, their families, the artists and their teams who witnessed this tragedy.