Red Rocks shooting: Westword's Mary Willson documents the four hours it took to escape
A post-shooting screen capture from 7News coverage.
Editor's note: Backbeat contributors Bree Davies and Mary Willson were at Red Rocks last week when shots were fired at an SUV whose passengers included Schoolboy Q. On Tuesday, we shared Davies's story. This is Wilson's account.
Before being stuck in a parking lot at Red Rocks a week ago today, I had no idea what was going on, and I didn't think anything was. I saw a helicopter flying around, but I chalked that up to a hiker who'd wanted to see the show for free getting into trouble. The extreme emergency lights on the road were alarming, but I assumed it was a fender bender -- until I continued up the stairs from the bottom of the venue to the upper north lot and I saw more lights. Everywhere I looked, the road was flashing blue and red.
I knew then that something was wrong. I immediately pulled out my phone (with only 2% battery) to type in Red Rocks on Twitter. Info of a "shooting" came up instantly. At the same time, parking-lot partiers yelled with the tone of multiple beers that there was a shooting. It seemed very dramatic during the moments walking to the car than it did for the hours after sitting in the car, hungry and tired.
The concert I had just left was memorable, to say the least. Flying Lotus captivated the audience with his amazing stage design called Layer Three. The sensory overload he brought created a unique experience, changing melodic electronic rhythms into a full-body experience. He and his creative team put on a real show.
As for Nas, he brought content from Life is Good, his new album (and last with Def Jam), plus some classics from Illmatic. Of course, there was a song for Marley during which we were told to light one up and sing for the legend who was looking down on us.
The calm before the storm
My boyfriend had work at 7 a.m. the next morning, so we left the show early thinking we were being smart beating the traffic out, even though the show was still going on.
My car was parked in the very front of the upper north lot, which put me in the position of being the last ones out of the venue. Cars from all the other lots had to be filtered out before ours could make its way down the mountain.
After the chaos calmed down in the lot and the wind set in, I climbed into my car to wait. I now just wanted to get home. The only view I had was the road above the lot, before the tunnel. I was entertained by multiple groups of party bus attendees waiting outside. They were not ready to stop partying and didn't.
I got to the lot at 10:45 and updated the situation on Twitter. Here's my first tweet about the situation.
Sitting in lot at red rocks, saw helicopter during show, thought it was a search for someone in surrounding area. No announcements in venue— Mary Willson (@mary_willson) June 20, 2014
At 11:30, we still hadn't moved. Here's my tweet about that.
Who wants to do some math. Venue 3/4 full. Number divided by average people in car. Times few mins per car. How long till we can go to bed??— Mary Willson (@mary_willson) June 20, 2014
I was nervous at this point, because I could see nothing by idling cars all the way down the road out of the venue. By this point, my boyfriend was asleep in the seat next to me. More waiting following.
By 12:45 a.m., I was just really, really hungry.
Can someone bring us snacks here in the Red rocks parking lot? The helicopter could just drop them down army style. Goldfish please.— Mary Willson (@mary_willson) June 20, 2014
My phone died by this point. But the waiting continued.
At 2:45 a.m., I was finally able to turn the car on, charge my phone and start heaading down the mountain. When I got to the exit, my car was not searched, but my license plate number was written down. One officer verbally reported the numbers and letters while a second officer wrote them down on a reporters notebook. Very 1990s of them.
I was on the highway, heading home at 3 a.m. Here's my post about that.
The experience didn't scare me away from attending concerts at Red Rocks. The next night, I attended the Skrillex show there.
When I arrived, a 9News crew was already in the parking lot. What they were reporting about, I don't know. Nothing out of the ordinary was happening.
Normally at shows like Skrillex, parking lots are loud, full of energy and fun. The lots on Friday were quiet and desolate. When hanging out by our car, a cop drove past telling us to get into the venue. The openers had barely started and it was still light out. Buzz kill.
The Skrillex show went on as normal; the only differences were the heightened security and the heavy police presence. The show was amazing, fun and fresh. It was good to put the experience from the night before behind me.
Here's an Alex Vinton video of Skrillex performing at Red Rocks.
More from our Follow That Story archive circa June 24: "Red Rocks shooting: Westword's Bree Davies on search, lack of info and being trapped for hours."
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