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Wrenshall alumna at Las Vegas concert shooting safe

Jan Huhto (left) and her friend Jany Alvarez pose for a photograph at the concert several hours before the shooting Sunday night in Las Vegas. Photo special to the Pine Journal

Jan (Martin) Hutto was one of the 22,000 fans attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd in Las Vegas Sunday evening.

"I'm very fortunate," Hutto said Tuesday from Las Vegas, where she now lives. "I was on the opposite side of the stage (from the shooting) and about a half of a football field back." She explained it was a huge venue.

Like everyone else, Hutto initially thought the sounds were from firecrackers. After the shots stopped, then started again a few times, both Hutto and her friend dove to the ground.

"Up to that point, the concert had been fabulous and well organized," Hutto said.

"A gentleman behind us said to 'stay calm, but run, those are shots,'" said Hutto.

They started running towards the back of the venue and ended up behind it, stopping to hide behind dumpsters several times. By the time the shooting had stopped, the group was already a distance away from the venue.

"Because of the echoing (of the gunshots) it sounded like the shooter was on the ground behind us," Hutto explained. "It sounded like he was following us." She did not see anyone get shot, nor view any bodies on the ground and is thankful.

"It was senseless, very sad," said Hutto. "It's hard to believe someone would do that."

While running, Hutto had fallen down a few times, but people were helping each other get back up. She lost her cell phone and was unable to contact anyone to let them know she was safe. The friends kept running until they reached a Travelodge hotel.

"They let a bunch of us in and locked the door. We stayed there for awhile," said Hutto. "My girlfriend had her cell phone, so we called Uber to meet us away from the strip and ran to meet him to get a ride home."

Her adult son told her later he had been downtown Sunday night. While he was unaware of the unfolding terrorist attack, he knew something was wrong as the officers were carrying rifles and wearing full protection gear.

"It was an experience," Hutto said grimly. She said that everyone she knows either knows someone who had been killed that night, or someone who had been injured.

A total of 59 people were killed, including the shooter and more than 500 were injured.

"There are still good people out there," Hutto said. "My daughter and many others are out giving blood right now."

Hutto graduated from Wrenshall in 1979, moved to Detroit, then to Las Vegas 11 years ago. She has family scattered throughout Minnesota, including a sister-in-law, Jane Martin, in Cloquet.

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