In shooting chaos, Las Vegas airport became a safe haven

Elvis makes a phone call from the Welcome to Las Vegas sign on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. Behind the sign are 58 crosses placed there the day before to honor the victims of the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States that occurred on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. (Marvin Clemons | KSNV)

After bullets began flying into a crowd of country music fans, a pack of 300-plus people ran away to the Las Vegas airport.

That's where they kicked down fences, hobbled over razor wires and were briefly mistaken by security officials for being attackers instead of shooting victims.

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When airport authorities rushed to confront them, they found people who were shot, bloodied and hysterical. The airport then tended to the wounded and offered food, water, blankets and phone chargers.

Controllers warned pilots that the confusion on the runways and the reports of shooting from the nearby Mandalay Bay casino might affect arriving and departing flights.

By showing that a crowd could topple a fence and run through the airfield, the incident also exposed a security vulnerability at McCarran International Airport.