Western New Yorkers in Vegas describe mass shooting scene, mourn national tragedy

The Kuczka's are vacationing in Las Vegas from Cheektowaga

LAS VEGAS, NEV. (WIVB)- Former News 4 sports reporter Brian Blessing was finishing a Sunday night shift in Las Vegas when a mass shooting broke out at a country music festival.

“I actually had left the Vegas Gold Knights final pre-season game, which is at T-Mobile Arena,” Blessing said via phone Monday morning.

The T-Mobile Arena is less than a mile away from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino; that’s where authorities say 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd of the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival.

As of Monday afternoon, at least 59 people are dead, more than 500 injured.

The Kuczka’s are vacation in Las Vegas from Cheektowaga

Also on the Las Vegas strip Sunday night, the Kuczka’s, a couple from Cheektowaga vacationing in Vegas.

Moments before the shooting, the Kuczka’s passed the music venue in the cab.

“We went to center of town and we were there maybe 10 minutes and we noticed a heavy police presence travelling at very high speeds down Las Vegas Boulevard,” Kevin Kuczka said.

He thought perhaps it was an isolated situation at a casino, but soon realized it was much worse.

“We heard that basically all the hotels were in lock-down and they were evacuating the strip.”

The Kuczka’s had to stay at the Venetian Sunday night; the hotel gave them a room for free, because they weren’t able to return to their original hotel due to blocked roads.

Kevin told News 4 he’s numb. He and his wife used social media to tell friends and family back in western New York they were safe.

Blessing, who has lived in Vegas since 2005, said the strip isn’t someplace Vegas residents frequent, it’s more of a tourist hot spot.

He’s saddened, but told News 4 unfortunately, residents in his city feared an attack like this.

“I think for anyone that lives here it’s a dark day, frankly one that people have always been worried about, that conceivably Las Vegas would be a target at some point,” Blessing said.

Frankie Scinta is from Buffalo, but the headliner at The Plaza in Las Vegas feels a strong connection to his current city.

The Scintas moved to Las Vegas in 2000. Frankie tells News 4 he’s still in shock.

Frankie Scinta

“I could not go to sleep last night. I didn’t fall asleep until 5:30 this morning, watching and hoping there was a glimpse of good coming out of this,” he said Monday afternoon.

The performer said this tragedy strikes a personal chord for him, not just as a Las Vegas resident, but as a headliner.

“We have to do something as entertainers and I think we should put a concert together in Vegas for the all the victims and their families.”

Scinta wants to put on a benefit concert for the victims of Sunday’s shooting and their families; he told News 4 he’s already been in contact with a couple other performers.

He said the wounds from Sunday’s tragedy were still fresh Monday morning, as evidence of the nearly empty strip.

“My drummer just drove, not by there but he drove near there and he said it’s surreal the way everything is shut down and you can still see the curtain blowing out of the window where the guy was shooting from.”

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