Emily Fenton shares her first hand account on the Vegas shooting

More stories from Maddie Stas


The crew members of Sirius XM smile big as they arrived to Las Vegas to report on the Country Music festival. In the middle, above the man in the black t-shirt with the pumpkin, stands Emily Fenton, Mr. Fentons daughter.

October 1 2017: a day that will be remembered as one of the saddest in American history. Early this day, a disturbed man smuggled 17 guns into a hotel room. 10 of these were considered to be legally in possession. He then proceeded to interrupt a Jason Aldean concert in the Las Vegas strip district with a semi-automatic weapon. The concert was a part of a weekend music festival featuring some of the biggest names in country music. This is where he went on a rampage, killing 59 people and leaving over 100 injured. He has no criminal record, and his brother seems honestly shocked at the whole situation. Some say that an American shooting other Americans isn’t preventable. Others disagree Whatever the reasoning may be, this shooting has left families broken, and police officers killed. But these things never seem as real unless they hit close to home, and this tragedy has. An English teacher in the Junior High, Mr. Fenton, heard this heartbreaking news along with the gut wrenching fact that his daughter was working in Las Vegas that same exact day.

Emily Fenton, daughter of Mr. Fenton, works for SiriusXM radio and helps out with two different channels: The Highway & The Garth Channel. She does a lot of behind the scenes work for both channels and was in Las Vegas covering the festival with exclusive live performances and interviews over the three days. Emily helped out with artist interview prep, social media and did a lot of editing to help replay partial sets and interviews.

During the beginning of the festival, Emily explained, “The first two nights I was out in the crowd watching the headliners, Eric Church and Sam Hunt, but I did not have the urge to go out on Sunday night because I had work I needed to get done for Monday since we’d be traveling most of the day” On the day of the shooting, Emily had said “I just wrapped up our 3-day broadcast of the Route 91 Harvest Festival with an interview with Jason Aldean around 8:30pm PST.”

Thankfully, Emily was not outside when the gunshots started. “I was working backstage in our trailer that we had for the 3 days – it had wi-fi and a nice space to work on my computer. There were three audio engineers who were cleaning up some of their equipment in the trailer while I finished up my work. At first, we all kind of looked at each other and were all like ‘What was that?’ We thought it was fireworks or part of Jason Aldean’s set because it stopped… but then we heard it again and one of the engineers said, ‘I think that’s gunshots’ We then took cover on the floor in the trailer. It went on for about 20 seconds and stopped again. Ben, one of the engineers, looked out the window of the trailer and saw people running and security was telling everybody to evacuate the site and run…” said Emily.

Once the shooting had begun, Emily and part of her crew were forced to evacuate. “The four of us ran out of the trailer and hopped a 10 foot fence. Our trailer was near the Artist Catering area and luckily someone had stacked up plastic storage containers, that weren’t very sturdy, but we were able to climb on those and then get over the fence. A stranger was on the other side of the fence when I was ready to jump down and he caught me thankfully. Then the four of us ran towards the airport which down the road away from the strip,” explained Emily.

Since Las Vegas is in a different time zone, this all began in the early hours in Pennsylvania. Mr Fenton was informed about the shooter through text messaging. “We got a text Monday morning (3 AM) that there was an active shooter but she was ok.  She then called her mom at 7:20 AM.  

While fleeing in the scene, multiple things were going through Emily’s mind. “My adrenaline definitely kicked in when we took off running from the trailer – it was mostly a blur -people screaming and running –  I couldn’t believe what was happening. I honestly thought that there was a gunman on the loose in the venue – that’s how loud the gunshots were,” said Emily

After they fled the scene, one of the crew members, James, had a friend that lived about 25 minutes out of the city where they ended up crashing there for the night. They didn’t sleep and had CNN on the whole night and were shocked when they saw the number of deaths and injuries. “Everyone knew it was bad when we were on the site but we didn’t realize how bad…” said Emily.

Most times, after someone experiences an intense event such as this one, they experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Emily knows she will never be able to forget this day for the rest of her life, and also knows she could have easily been one of the victims in the crowd. “To this day I still think about that night and I know it’s a night I’ll never be able to forget. I can’t imagine how the family and friends of the victims are feeling, it’s such a senseless tragedy that’s really hard for me to believe happened… There are still about 35 people in the hospital (as of 10/23/17)  as well and about half of them are in critical condition and their lives will be changes forever,” said Emily

“I love country music and going to concerts and festivals and so do a lot of people – you go to forget about your worries and enjoy the music and the moment…I flew home to spend time with my family before heading back to work, it was wonderful seeing everyone and being able to hug them in person and feel the love. I could have easily been out in the crowd on Sunday night just like I was on Friday and Saturday night… I’m very lucky and unfortunately there were so many people that weren’t,” said Emily

Lee Brice performed in the Las Vegas country music festival Saturday night. Emily Fenton was a part of this crowd while enjoying the show.