Long Beach resident Cassandra Popli was near the right side of the stage during Aldean’s set when she heard the gunshots. During the second round of gunshots fired, she and her group of friends started running.
“They were trying to get everyone to stay in the festival, and they were yelling at them and saying ‘get back in, get back in’,” she told the Long Beach Post. “[We thought] if we do that we’re like sitting ducks; we didn’t know where the shooter was, where it was coming from, so we were like, no, we need to get out of here.”
“We saw people crouched down in the corner, just hiding,” she said. “They were just shaking and crying and we just knew that’s not where we needed to be so we just yelled at the guy to get out of the way, [we said] ‘we’re leaving,’ and we just ran.”
Leaving the festival area and sprinting toward their room at The Luxor, Popli and the two others she was with saw a Lyft pull up just past the Excalibur hotel. They jumped in and told the driver to, “Go, go, go.” They were on the freeway by 10:20PM.
Popli described the audience’s confusion near the front of the stage, before she and the two others decided to bolt. Popli also had two friends who had been on the left side of the stage who she said didn’t know as much about what was happening.
“They thought they were fireworks or something, so they were on the left and they were just kind of confused, even Jason Aldean’s sound guy came out because he thought at first the sound was the speakers breaking,” she said. “Then the shots would go off and people would get down and then they’d stop and stand up like ‘what is going on?’ And then they’d go down again when the shots happened. So they were down for a while and then they were moved to this parking lot and they were basically all enclosed in and then they just had to wait there with nowhere to go.”
Popli was part of a larger group of friends attending the festival who stayed longer following the gunshots. She recounted their experience:
“[…] Some guy let them into their room [at the Tropicana Hotel] and they were just on lock down[…],” Popli said. “[They were] with two girls whose guy friend had gotten shot in the head. [He] had just had a baby.”