Hong Kong pop singer Leo Ku Kui-kei and his wife experienced the horror of the worst mass shooting in recent US history, with a death toll of at least 59 and more than 500 injured in Las Vegas.
The couple and their friends hid under a gambling table in the Bellagio hotel when the sound of gunfire from the Mandalay Bay Resort, which is 2.6km away, broke out.
The Bellagio crowd panicked and people were scrambling for cover, Ku recalled on a Hong Kong radio programme on Tuesday morning. He was speaking from Las Vegas.
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Ku had arrived with his wife in the Nevada city – where they got married in 2014 – on Sunday local time for “a few days off” after wrapping up his concert in San Francisco.
At about 10pm on Sunday night, a 64-year-old local resident opened fire on more than 22,000 people at an outdoor music festival at Mandalay Bay.
“I was holding my wife in my arms under the table, having no idea [where exactly was the shooting occurring], what I could do, and what would happen next,” Ku said, adding that he fell into a short trance as people around him were running and screaming.
When he regained his senses, they moved to a stairway at the back of the building for shelter as the Bellagio had suspended all lifts. They met a family from South Korea, who accompanied the couple throughout the ordeal. The group moved to a higher floor of the hotel to seek safety.
But because none of them had a room at the Bellagio, they could only stay in the hallway, their phone batteries draining while they waited for news from authorities. The lockdown on all Las Vegas hotels continued late into the night.
On Tuesday’s radio show, Ku thanked the South Korean family for their help.
He said: “Some foreigners also came out of their rooms to offer help, lending us batteries and blankets in case we had to stay overnight in the corridor.”
Ku said the group was haunted by rumours and speculation all night, as the death toll rose in news reports and police took up to seven hours to search for the suspect.
At 5.33am on Monday, local authorities announced that gunman Stephen Paddock was found dead in a room at the Mandalay Bay hotel.
The Kus and their friends only returned to their rooms at a hotel close to the Bellagio after 5am when the lockdown was lifted.
“I was still very nervous when I had to go out and walk back to our hotel,” Ku said. He added that he could not sleep even in the safety of his own room.
As the airport in Las Vegas was also closed on Sunday night and flights were disrupted, the couple was unsure of when they could return to Hong Kong.
On Tuesday morning, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said that the government had so far not received any call for help from Hongkongers in Las Vegas.
Hong Kong residents who are overseas can call the 24-hour hotline of the Immigration Department’s Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit at (852) 1868.