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My Thoughts On The Las Vegas Shooting One Week Later

At this time last week, nobody could have predicted how the world would change in the hours to come. What was supposed to be an amazing time quickly turned into a nightmare that is hard to comprehend, even now.

As more details surface, I continue to feel sick to my stomach. I have covered many  tragedies since I began my career – shootings, plane crashes, murders, kidnappings, etc. I can say with full certainty that nothing has ever hit me like this.

For the three years I was in television news, I grew numb to shootings and bombings and all the bad things that happen in this world. It was the only way to get through each day. This was different. This was close to home.

I got the alert on Sunday night along with the rest of the world. I had woken up in the night and glanced at my phone. The notification was vague with little to no detail. Half-asleep, I assumed something happened on the strip or a fight broke out at a casino. Las Vegas is a busy place. I had no idea that a few short hours later, this would be the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history.

My alarm blared and I looked at my phone again. What I saw this time made me feel physically ill. A country show. Artists I worship. Music that pushed me into what I do now. A minute later, I gasped for air. One of my best friends was at the festival.

Lauren Wells, Townsquare Media Duluth
Lauren Wells, Townsquare Media Duluth

I texted her faster than I’ve ever messaged someone in my life. Shaking, I said “Bre, are you still in Vegas?” I was praying she had left early for some reason or had to get back to California. In my heart, I knew this wasn’t the case. She would never leave a festival early. She had been posting pictures and Snapchats, having the time of her life. I liked every one, as always. She lived for country music. We have bonded over this for years. We have spent so much time talking about cowboy boots and new songs and concerts we had to see. We’ve torn up the dance floor to Thomas Rhett one too many times. We could be found pretty much every Friday night at the local cowboy bar in town. She loved Jason Aldean. There’s no way she’d miss him.

She responded within the minute but it felt like a lifetime. I will never be more thankful for anything than I was to hear back from her and know that she was, in one sense of the word, okay.

A few hours later, Ken and I watched the details play out over the course of the show. In between each song, the death toll rose. The number injured continued to grow from 100 to 200 to 500 and counting. Videos started to emerge. The picture of what happened that night slowly snapped into focus.

Being a country station, we wanted to keep everyone informed throughout the show. It took everything I had to keep it together. I kept thinking of what my sweet friend went through. I wanted to do it for her. She deserved it, along with every other person there. I wanted to do them justice. These were our people and it hurt.

Lauren Wells, Townsquare Media Duluth
Lauren Wells, Townsquare Media Duluth

Bre was one of my closest friends in school and still is to this day. We were part of an incredible group of girlfriends who were attached at the hip throughout our college years. You had to pry us all apart. Bre and I have bonded over just about everything. I saw her when I went to California last year. She drove in Los Angeles traffic to see me for an hour and came to Disney on a whim when I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye. She has taught me to be kind and adventurous. She’s in all the best memories of my life. Friends like this are few and far between. When she told me what she and her boyfriend went through Sunday night, these were the memories I fell back on.

Lauren Wells, Townsquare Media Duluth
Lauren Wells, Townsquare Media Duluth

In the days that followed, I checked up on her while trying not to be overbearing and respecting her need to process what happened. She thanked me and told me I was amazing for checking in on her. I wasn’t surprised that even after all she had been through, she was thinking about everyone else. That’s who she is. I have always been proud of her. I always thought I couldn’t love her more but I do with every day that has passed this week. THAT is something no awful person can ever take away.

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