Harrowing film tells of Las Vegas shooting and its aftermath

Sep 25, 2022, 8:40 PM | Updated: Sep 26, 2022, 6:15 pm
FILE - A woman sits on a curb on Oct. 2, 2017, at the scene of a shooting outside a music festival ...

FILE - A woman sits on a curb on Oct. 2, 2017, at the scene of a shooting outside a music festival on Oct. 1 that killed 58 people and injured hundreds on the Las Vegas Strip. A new documentary, “11 Minutes,” is an inside account of the 2017 massacre at a country music concert in Las Vegas. More than three hours long, the four-part documentary debuts on the Paramount+ streaming service Tuesday. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

              Film producer Ashley Hoff appears at the Route 91 Harvest, a country music festival, on Oct. 1, 2017 in Las Vegas. Hoff's documentary, "11 Minutes,” is an inside account of the 2017 massacre at a country music concert in Las Vegas and, more importantly, about how it reverberated in the lives of those who were there. More than three hours long, the four-part documentary debuts on the Paramount+ streaming service Tuesday. (Shaun Hoff via AP)
            
              FILE - Police run toward the scene of a shooting near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017. A new documentary, “11 Minutes,” is an inside account of the 2017 massacre at a country music concert in Las Vegas. More than three hours long, the four-part documentary debuts on the Paramount+ streaming service Tuesday. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
            
              FILE - Personal belongings and debris litter the Route 91 Harvest festival grounds across the street from the Mandalay Bay resort and casino in Las Vegas on Oct. 3, 2017, after a mass shooting Oct. 1. A new documentary, “11 Minutes,” is an inside account of the 2017 massacre at a country music concert in Las Vegas. More than three hours long, the four-part documentary debuts on the Paramount+ streaming service Tuesday. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
            
              FILE - A woman sits on a curb on Oct. 2, 2017, at the scene of a shooting outside a music festival on Oct. 1 that killed 58 people and injured hundreds on the Las Vegas Strip. A new documentary, “11 Minutes,” is an inside account of the 2017 massacre at a country music concert in Las Vegas. More than three hours long, the four-part documentary debuts on the Paramount+ streaming service Tuesday. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A pair of cowboy boots that Ashley Hoff never thought she would see again helped unlock a powerful story about the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The resulting film, “11 Minutes,” is an inside account of the 2017 massacre at a country music festival in Las Vegas and, more importantly, about how it reverberated in the lives of those who were there. More than three hours long, the four-part documentary debuts Tuesday on the Paramount+ streaming service.

“I’ve never felt more useful or more like the universe put me exactly where I was supposed to be,” said Hoff, an executive producer of “11 Minutes.”

It seems like a strange sentiment given that Hoff was at the show on Oct. 1, 2017, four rows from the stage as Jason Aldean sang “Any Ol’ Barstool.” Hoff heard popping sounds that she and her husband, Shaun, first dismissed as fireworks — not the work of a gunman firing from a nearby hotel window.

She turned to look at her husband and saw someone just behind him struck in the face by a bullet. They alternated ducking to the ground for cover and running away, depending on when they could hear the gunshots.

At one point, she kicked off her cowboy boots because it was too slippery to run in them, eventually escaping the killing field where 58 people died that night, and two more later of their injuries. More than 850 people were hurt before the gunfire stopped.

Nine months later, an FBI agent was at Hoff’s door with her boots — part of a little-known unit that returns property left behind by people caught in these incidents.

Hoff, already in the film business, thought that made an intriguing subject. She was encouraged to broaden her focus through her experience with fellow survivors and the involvement of director Jeff Zimbalist and veteran producers Susan Zirinsky and Terence Wrong.

Many survivors, like herself, were unhappy with media coverage of the massacre, believing there was too much focus on the gunman and that it was forgotten too soon.

“We all went back to our corners to suffer in silence,” she said.

The film takes you vividly inside the event with cellphone and police body-cam footage. The cooperation of Las Vegas police was key, bringing footage like the race to hospitals with survivors and the moment when a tactical unit burst into the casino hotel room where the gunman had barricaded himself.

The experiences of people like Jonathan Smith, a Black concertgoer who had felt unwelcome because of a white man’s remark wondering why he was there, and Natalie Grumet, who had just survived cancer, are weaved throughout the story. Both were seriously injured.

“Is it easy to watch? No, but it shouldn’t be easy to watch,” said SiriusXM host Storme Warren, who was onstage in Las Vegas that night. “I don’t know why you would tell the story if it were easy to watch.”

Warren at first hesitated when asked to participate in the film, dealing with his own PTSD and wary because of past media coverage. He and Aldean, who gave his first interview about Las Vegas to filmmakers, are important ties to the country community.

Hoff believes that her own experience that night, even though it is not included in the film, helped convince some of those involved to talk.

Searingly, the parents of Carrie Parsons, a young woman who didn’t survive her wounds, discuss dealing with every parent’s worst nightmare, and how their time to grieve with her body was cut short.

“They’re going to cremate my daughter in 10 minutes,” a tearful Ann-Marie Parsons recalled being told. “How do you deal with that?

After the shooting stopped, police talked of hearing the rings of cellphones as they walked among bodies still on the concert grounds, knowing there were desperate callers on the other end wanting to know if their loved ones were safe.

Beyond the concertgoers, it’s startling to see some of the first responders — often not the most emotive types — speak about how they’ve dealt with the emotional aftermath. “I was a very angry man. Very angry,” said Brian Rogers, paramedic operations chief, in the film.

Part four of “11 Minutes,” begins at dawn on Oct. 2, 2017, and focuses on some of the enduring bonds between survivors, and some of the rescuers.

It’s Hoff’s favorite part. “I do like to encourage people that there is goodness in the end, so hang in for that,” she said.

“There are extraordinary acts of courage and human beings helping human beings,” said Zirinsky, chief of the See It Now Studios production company. “They’re just regular people. In the darkest hours, people found each other.”

Zirinsky, the former CBS News president, produced “9/11,” perhaps the most memorable doc made in the wake of that disaster, and considers “11 Minutes” the most powerful film she’s worked on since.

While the film talks about the gunman, whose motive remains a mystery since he killed himself before police reached him, it pointedly does not mention his name. Almost militantly so: A series of audio news reports included are cut off just before the name is spoken.

It was found that the gunman had searched the internet for “how to be a social media star” in the days before the shooting. Even in death, Hoff doesn’t want to give him that wish.

The film ends with a slow crawl showing the names of those killed five years ago in Las Vegas, as well as the victims of every mass shooting since that time in the U.S. where at least four people were killed.

“I don’t call it a political statement,” Zirinsky said. “I call it a statement of reality.”

Both Hoff and her husband escaped the concert without any gunshot wounds, although Hoff broke her arm when she slipped and fell trying to run in her cowboy boots. She didn’t notice her injury until they stopped running.

She’s fine if people take the message from her film that enough’s enough.

“We need to stop turning away, and we need to understand what going through this was like,” she said. “It changes a person forever.”

___

David Bauder has been writing about media for The Associated Press since 1996. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/dbauder

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

murders...
Associated Press

Appeals court upholds most Eyman campaign finance violations

A Washington state Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld most of the campaign finance violations that longtime anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman was found liable for last year.
10 hours ago
A Washington State Department of Agriculture worker displays an Asian giant hornet taken from a nes...
Associated Press

No northern giant hornets found in 2022 in Washington state

Citizen trapping of northern giant hornets in northwest Washington ended Nov. 30 without any confirmed sightings of the hornets this year, state officials said Tuesday.
10 hours ago
Associated Press

French activists protest against killing of male chicks

PARIS (AP) — French animal rights activists on Wednesday protested what they say are broad exceptions in legislation that was meant to ban the practice of killing unwanted male chicks after they hatch. The culling ban is set to take effect in January. France-based animal rights group L214 said exceptions allowed by the government will […]
1 day ago
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking during the annual meeting of the President...
Associated Press

Putin denies Western accusations of nuclear saber-rattling

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday described the country’s nuclear arsenals as a deterrent factor in the Ukrainian conflict but demurred when challenged to make a pledge that Russia would not be the first to use them. Asked by a member of the presidential Human Rights Council to commit Russia to forswearing […]
1 day ago
FILE - Peruvian President Pedro Castillo gives a press conference at the presidential palace in Lim...
Associated Press

Peru’s president dissolves Congress ahead of 3rd removal try

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peruvian President Pedro Castillo dissolved the nation’s Congress on Wednesday and called for new legislative elections, beating lawmakers to the punch as they prepared to debate a third attempt to remove him from office. Castillo also installed a new emergency government, and called in a televised address for the next round […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Fired state TV chief’s World Bank job shocks many in Poland

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The former head of Poland’s state broadcaster said Wednesday that he now has a job at the World Bank, spurring disbelief in the European Union country where he is known for turning the news channel into a propaganda tool for the right-wing government. Kurski, who has no finance experience, said on […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Harrowing film tells of Las Vegas shooting and its aftermath