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SLO woman dashed from Mandalay Bay casino as shots rang out above

Caroline Rocha with her group in Vegas. The group included her two sisters and daughter.
Caroline Rocha with her group in Vegas. The group included her two sisters and daughter.

Caroline Rocha, a San Luis Obispo jewelry designer, was gambling in the casino of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino with her two sisters and daughter on Sunday night when she learned about the gunman several stories above her.

Rocha said she wasn’t sure how they knew, whether it was from bystanders or security, but when they found out, she, her younger sister and her daughter decided to go to their hotel room in the Delano Las Vegas, which is connected to Mandalay Bay. As they left the casino, they heard a popping sound, which Rocha later realized was gunfire.

“It felt like it was in the casino,” Rocha said. “We went as quick as we could, we were running to where we needed to go.”

Two bystanders were running with them, Rocha said, and Rocha’s group invited them to stay with them in their hotel room. They went up the elevator to the 20th floor, then ran up 13 flights of stairs to Rocha’s room on the 33rd floor. The strangers stayed in the hotel room with them until morning.

In the confusion, Rocha’s older sister became separated from the group and didn’t make it back to the hotel room until early Monday morning. She had ended up confined to the theater where Michael Jackson ONE was playing, along with Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham.

Rocha said she wasn’t thinking about how scared she was because she was trying to calm her 22-year-old daughter.

On the night of Oct. 1, a gunman opened fire on a concert near the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, killing 58 and wounding hundreds of others.

“I don’t even know if I focused on my own fear because it was more about getting her to be calmer,” Rocha said. “My objective was just to run and get into our room and lock the door.”

Rocha said she and her group weren’t planning to go home until Wednesday, and will stick to their original plans.

“We’re going to continue on. This man is not going to rob us of continuing to live our lives as we are,” Rocha said.

At least 59 people died and more than 500 were injured in the massacre, which was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Gabby Ferreira: 805-781-7858, @Its_GabbyF

Crystal Alaniz left her place in front of the stage at the Route 91 Harvest Festival to use the restroom when the shooting broke out.

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