'I'm not gonna let it stop me': Casco native defiant after surviving horrific Vegas shooting

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (NEWS CENTER) -- A Casco native who moved to Las Vegas last year was one of the thousands of people who escaped the terrifying shooting at a country concert on the strip Sunday night.

Josh Woodbury, 32, was at the music festival with five other friends. They also attended the festival the two days prior, which went off without a hitch.

"It was very enjoyable up until that point," Woodbury said.

After a long two days of non-stop music, the group opted to show up later on Sunday instead, around 5 p.m.

"We missed most of the day, we wanted to get the last four shows in because it is a long weekend," he said.

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Woodbury and his friends were to the right of the stage closest to Mandalay Bay, in between the catwalk stage and the VIP section. He estimated Aldean was on his fourth song into his set.

"We heard what sounded like firecrackers, honestly. It was like five or ten shots. We didn’t know what it was, we didn’t really comprehend what was going on," he said.

It wasn't until Jason Aldean "literally took his guitar and ran backstage that I knew it was real, and that it was a situation," said Woodbury.

"The group I was with, we were like, 'We gotta get out, we have to get out of here,'" he recalled. "We turned around, a lot of the crowd didn’t quite realize what was going on. You’re in an atmosphere where there’s alcohol around, people are partying and having a good time and don’t quite realize what’s happening, but we weren’t drinking that day."

Then, the next set of gunshots. That's when the rest of the crowd started to run. "It was a riot. There were tons of people going."

Another round of shots pierced the air.

"We all ended up hitting the floor and just waited it out as much as we could. Nobody knew what it was."

Whatever it was, Woodbury thought it was coming from the ground.

"I thought it was somebody in the street. I didn’t know they were at an elevated level," said Woodbury. "We were just waiting. As soon as that round was over, we all picked up and ran."

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That's when Woodbury saw people on the ground, huddling in their groups and hugging each other for cover.

"I actually got blood on my shoes," he said. "And when we’re going through it, I had thought it was just people being trampled. I thought it was people being part of a riot and I was like, 'The guy's at street level. There’s no way he’s gonna get shots off in here, we just gotta get away.'"

He didn't know it then, but it was "people being picked off from Mandalay."

The group tried to run for cover in a group of concession stands towards the middle of the venue, but they were able to escape through gates that opened up on the east side. Three blocks away, the group finally made it to MGM Grand and barricaded at Top Golf.

"We stayed for two hours and collected ourselves. They didn’t let anyone out; It was on lockdown. Really traumatic ordeal."

The day after the grisly violence was a day spent in shock. Woodbury argued he felt worse Monday than during the ordeal. "I had a clearer head than I do now."

It's what could have been that keeps haunting his thoughts.

"It’s all been retrospect stuff, like, thinking about it, you know? When you’re there and you’re trying to figure out a way out," he said. "Getting out was the most important part. Being safe. After that, having a day ... you’re trying to think back, you could have made wrong moves here and there, and I could’ve been one of the victims. That’s the biggest thing that goes through my mind today. That’s what trips me up."

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Woodbury left Maine, where he was born and raised, in late May of 2016 for a job with the Ultimate Fighting Championship in Las Vegas. His gig makes him no stranger to live events.

"I'm in arenas all the time," he said. "I’m around this kind of atmosphere a lot. It hasn’t really reached home yet. But when I come up to an open venue like this, where it’s outdoors, from here on out it’s how I’m going to be thinking about it."

The security at the country music festival, Woodbury said, was great.

"We didn’t see anything crazy, or anything that would give us a red flag that something was going to happen," he said. "They had the handheld metal detectors, they went through everyone’s bag thoroughly. I had to stop and throw away food in my bag and stuff so they were doing a good job. I’d say they did a great job with security."

Despite the ordeal, Jason Aldean's concert will not be Woodbury's last.

"I’m not gonna let it stop me. When a situation happens, be ready to get to safety and make sure all your people are good. But you can’t let things like this keep you from enjoying life."

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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