Las Vegas concert tragedy hits close to home

PHOTO BY Blaine Howerton. From the stands at the Jason Aldean concert, on July 29, 2017, people celebrate Frontier Nights at the Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Jason Aldean, named entertainer of the year in 2016 by the Academy of Country Music, was a headliner for the Rte 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. As he and his band performed one of the last songs in their set on the outdoor stage, just after 10 p.m. on Sunday night, October 1, a series of shots rang out. Aldean was hustled off the stage as the 22,000 concert fans reacted in horror.

The death toll and injuries is still changing, but as of this writing there are 45 dead, 515 injured.

By the time the gunshots ended 15 or 20 minutes later, more than 50 people had lost their lives and 400 were injured. The shooter, 64 year-old Stephen Paddock of nearby Mesquite, Nevada, lay dead, probably by his own hand, surrounded by 10 weapons, in his 32nd floor hotel room at Mandalay Resort and Casino overlooking the concert venue. He shot randomly into the crowd from his hotel room window using an automatic rifle.

Aldean, 40, who was a big hit at Cheyenne Frontier Days last summer, called the incident “…beyond horrific. It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what would have been a fun night.”

His wife Brittany, who is expecting their son next month said, “We are safe—our angels were definitely watching over us tonight. No words for what happened. Just horrific. Praying for everyone.”

Known and loved as a country rock and R & B singer and guitar player since 2005, Aldean has chalked up an impressive number of awards beginning when he was named top new male vocalist of the year by the Academy of Country Music in 2005. On the Broken Bow label he has produced seven albums and 24 singles, many of them award winners. His 2010 album, “My Kinda Party,” reached quadruple platinum status and was named album of the year in 2011 by Billboard Music Awards.

Fans of all ages come from around the world to experience his special brand of country music. The fact that Aldean thrilled so many fans as he performed just up the road in Cheyenne for Frontier Days a few months ago, brought this unexplainable, shattering tragedy closer to home for many in this area.

“Jason Aldean came to Frontier Days for the second time in 2017. His first performance at this venue, in 2013, was the first time concert seats sold out. He’s the kind of person who is willing to come to a venue as small as Frontier Days just because he appreciates the event,” said Kristen Lee, from Cheyenne.

Blaine Howerton, publisher of the North Forty News shared his feelings:

My wife and I took our 7 year old son to the Jason Aldean concert at Cheyenne Frontier days last July. It was his birthday gift. Seeing the excitement on his face for his first concert was one of the highlights of being a dad. I can’t imagine the horror, the shock, and the disappointment that these people are going through. It’s a terrible tragedy. It brings tears to my eyes to think that this can happen to anyone, anywhere at any time. It’s a shame. It does remind me though, that terrible things happen. We can’t shelter our kids from these terrible things too much. We need to tell them what is going on, but in such a way as to not scare them. I want my son to continue to love listening to the artist, not to remember the music by the tragedy that is surrounding it.


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