Country duo Big & Rich are sharing their horror at witnessing hysteria and panic erupt in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sunday, after a gunman fired fatal shots at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival.
Big Kenny and John Rich were on stage at the festival around 90 minutes prior to Jason Aldean’s set -- during which a gunman opened fire, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500 -- but had left on their tour bus for a nearby after-show.
“We were down the street,” Kenny told ET on Tuesday. “I was on a bus ready to step back off of it, when I looked down and saw three SWAT guys with guns pointed in my direction. I throw my hands up and said, ‘Guys, it’s me! We just played.’”
“It was hysteria blocks away,” Kenny continued. “They thought there were multiple shooters throughout the city. When fear and hysteria starts spreading like that, you don’t know … everyone was doing everything they could to secure the moment.”
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Rich owns nearby country music bar Redneck Riviera, where the duo had gone to perform an after-party show. They remained in lockdown at the bar, fearing that at any second, “someone could come blasting through the door.”
Upon hearing news of the shooting, Rich called his friend, DJ Silver, who plays with Aldean and had been “thrown into the back of a pickup truck.”
“His 6-month-old son and the nanny were in the room next door to the shooter on the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay,” Rich said. “It took him and his wife three or four hours before they could find their baby.”
Big & Rich had also been staying at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, which is where the gunman opened fire down on the crowd at the festival.
“Our rooms were right underneath where his room was,” Kenny said. “I was looking down at the festival the whole day. I was watching all the fans coming into the festival. It’s as heartbreaking of an event as you can possibly have.”
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Reflecting on the horrific ordeal, Kenny said he was still in shock about everything he saw unfold. Praising the first responders who sprung into action, he added that the pair's “hearts weep,” for those who lost loved ones or were still fighting for their lives.
The musician remained adamant that the duo would not let fear deter them from future performances.
“Fear will not overtake us,” he said. “We will continue to march forward with our music. I know that all the artists out there, we are all so concerned right now, first and foremost about our fans, but [we] will not let this stop us in any way.”
“We will go forth every day and shine the light of love as bright as we possibly can against all the darkness and outrageous things like this that might ever come upon our path in life,” he continued. “And we will continue to walk in God’s light the best we can.”
Following Sunday’s shooting, the music industry was further shaken by news of legendary rocker Tom Petty’s hospitalization. With Petty’s life reportedly hanging in the balance on Monday, Rich shared his well-wishes for the singer.
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“You want to know what t-shirt I was wearing last night? Tom Petty,” Rich said. “I love Tom Petty. He's on the level of Johnny Cash and the greatest American composers of all time, so that’s sad news. I hope he pulls through that. We love Tom.”
See more on the Las Vegas shooting in the video below.
Reporting by Angelique Jackson.