A former Marysville resident experienced a stroke of luck this weekend after narrowly avoiding harm in Las Vegas.
Jamie Lee, of South Bend, Indiana, experienced the Las Vegas shooting this weekend from the safety of his Aria Casino hotel, less than two miles away from the infamous Mandalay Bay hotel and casino. Lee attended high school in Marysville in the late 1980s and his son, Hayden Lee, won a state wrestling title for the Monarchs in 2014.
Lee almost found himself at the scene of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
“On the plane ride from Indianapolis to Vegas, we were offered free tickets to go watch this country concert, but none of us were country fans,” he said. “But 20 minutes before (the shooting), we were right in that area.”
Though he was so close to the action, he said this experience ultimately won’t shake his views on anything. If anything, he said he had an amazing time, besides the shooting happening.
“It was a bucket-list type weekend,” he said. “It was an awesome time. Unfortunately, this had to happen, but it was still a great time.”
Traveling to Vegas with his friends for the weekend, Lee expected to have a good time celebrating his friend’s weekend-long bachelor party. Lee said he could have been among them if he and his friends had accepted those concert tickets on their plane ride.
Instead, after playing some games at the Mandalay Bay at 9:48 p.m. Sunday, they decided to go back to their hotel to gamble there. At 10:08 p.m., Lee had entered a game of craps and the shooting outside had begun.
“We had just sat down at the craps table, just chipped up, and bam, chaos,” he said. “I’d still (go to Vegas) again, because you can’t live in a bubble. You can’t hide from all of this.”
He found out about the shooter when a person ran into the casino and declared that an active shooter was there. Following the crowd, Lee and his friends filed out of the building, only to return to the building seconds later after they discovered the shooter was outside.
Though he enjoyed the rest of his weekend, he felt grief as he was hunkered down in the Aria casino for hours, waiting for the carnage outside to end. As a former Marine and army ranger, as well as currently working as a nurse at the University of Michigan, he felt compelled to want to treat the injured outside, but knew about the risks associated with it.
“I’m a combat veteran, and it’s different being a civilian and not have any way to help people,” he said. “As a nurse, I would have liked to be able to help people, but we were locked down for a reason because we had no idea.”
Through the lockdown, Lee had no idea what was happening. Rumors had swirled in the air about how many shooters were present and how many people were killed. When he and his friends were able to collect their phones and money back on the casino floor at 1:40 a.m., that’s where he and his friends started hearing the news about the tragedy.
And that night, no one went to sleep.
People were on their phones, scouring news sites for as much information they could about the shooting and watching videos of the massacre to process what happened outside hours ago.
Lee and his friends got into their limo to go to the airport at 6:45 a.m. awake with shellshock from what happened.
“Everybody on the plane was coming from Las Vegas, so everybody… had different views and there was a lot of speculation going on.” he said. “There was a lot of sadness, and the plane was offering free drinks, but no one wanted to drink. That’s how solemn it was.”
With his experience in the military, Lee was used to the sounds of guns firing and the images of people dying. Though seeing it on the civilian side of the ordeal was challenging for him, he said he didn’t let it affect him like the event did to his friends.
“My views will remain the same and I’ll never change how I live,” he said. “I’ve spent my life defending my country, and I’m going to go by what my faith tells me, in that what will happen is going to happen, and the belief that good will prevail.”
Despite the scare of the shooting, Lee is preparing to go back to Las Vegas with his family on Oct. 25, a trip he’s had planned for six months.
He said this shows how “resilient I am as an American.”
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