Lemoore native Desirae Casida loves country musician Chris Young.
She anxiously bought tickets months ago to see Young perform Wednesday night on the first day of The Big Fresno Fair.
But she refuses to go to his concert now.
Not after running for her life as bullets flew in her direction, all while wondering if she or her mom or their friends would live beyond Sunday night following the horrific Las Vegas shooting that occurred at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
“Nope. Not going. No way,” Casida said. “It was the scariest thing in my life. I can’t go to another concert without thinking something like that could happen again.
“And I really like Chris Young’s music. I was really excited to see him go. I just can’t do it. It’s too soon.”
The country singer also attended the Route 91 festival, though he did not perform, and ended up spending several hours hiding in his trailer as shooter Stephen Paddock shot and killed at least 59 people and injured hundreds more.
“Spent I don’t know how long on the floor of a trailer behind the stage ... know multiple people are dead,” Young tweeted. “Listening to that gunfire ...
“I’m literally shaking still.”
Fresno Fair publicist Danielle Griffin confirmed Young will perform Wednesday as scheduled at the Fresno Fairgrounds, with the concert starting at 7 p.m.
The country singer is the first performer among 12 consecutive concerts/acts scheduled at the Fresno Fair’s Paul Paul Theater.
Unlike Young, Casida didn’t have the luxury of hiding in a trailer She wasn’t even near her mother or their group of friends when the shooting started.
Casida had separated from her group to use the restroom, wanting to make sure she wouldn’t miss any of the performance from festival headliner Jason Aldean.
Her mother, Lisa Casida, suggested that when she returned from the restroom, the group work their way closer toward the front of the stage rather than remain near the back in the crowd of more than 22,000 people.
“Five minutes after my daughter left, you hear the ‘Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop.’ ” Lisa Casida said. “You think it’s fireworks or part of the show.
“I looked up and see the gun flashes. But I’m still thinking it’s fireworks. Then someone yelled ‘Shooter!’ ”
Lisa Casida thought the shooting was coming from the front, near the stage. As she saw several people ducking and running toward her direction and for the exits, she started running also.
Then she tripped.
A random man grabbed her by the wrist to help her up and said “You got to get up and go.”
All the while, others in the crowd kept yelling “Shooter! Shooter! Shooter!”
My mom called said ‘Get down. Get out.’ I was so scared. I just wanted to be by my mom.
Lemoore’s Desirae Casida
“People were getting hit from the front (of the crowd), the back, the middle,” Lisa Casida said. “I don’t recall seeing anyone fall.
“But I’m running. And you don’t know if they’re on the ground taking cover or if they’re hurt. You’re just running for your life.”
Back in the restroom area, Desirae Casida also heard the gun shots but was confused by the sound. After leaving the restroom, she asked another woman if she had heard the noise.
The woman’s husband told them it sounded like a .50 caliber machine gun.
Casida looked down at her phone and saw her mom was calling.
She also quickly noticed the wave of people suddenly ducking and scrambling in every direction as they searched for an exit.
“My mom called and said ‘Get down. Get out,’ ” Casida said. “I was so scared. I just wanted to be by my mom.
“But by that time, my instincts kicked in. I ran as fast as I could, exited the way we entered (the venue) and didn’t stop running until I got across Tropicana Avenue and hid behind a bush to catch my breath.”
Casida and her mother remained separated throughout the night.
Lisa Casida ended up joining a group of about 60 people who retreated to the hotel area of the Tropicana Casino. People in the group frantically pounded on doors, hoping someone would open up and let them hide in their room.
Lisa Casida ended up joining a group of about 60 people who retreated to the hotel area of the Tropicana Casino.
People in the group frantically pounded on doors, hoping someone would open up and let them hide in their room.
Eventually, they moved across the street and to the MGM casino, where Lisa Casida ended up reuniting with the three other friends who were part of their group.
Her daughter, however, had run back to the Luxor Casino, where they were staying.
The mother and daughter stayed in contact with each other through text messages – which were delayed being sent but eventually transmitted.
“Once I knew she made it back to the Luxor, I felt better,” Lisa Casida said. “But then at some point, there was a news report that said there might be a suspicious vehicle near the Luxor.
“The panic set in again.”
As word spread throughout the casinos there as a gunman and people yelled “Shooter,” the casinos started closing and staff members retreated to secure areas.
All I knew was anyone who had a wristband on (from the Route 91 Harvest Festival) was a good guy. Everyone else without the wristband had become an enemy.
Lemoore’s Lisa Casida
“Turns out there was only one shooter, but none of us knew that at the time,” Lisa Casida said. “All I knew was anyone who had a wristband on (from the festival) was a good guy.
“Everyone else without the wristband had become an enemy. We all thought we were being chased.”
By 5 a.m. Monday, the mother and daughter from Lemoore reunited back at their hotel in the Luxor.
They hugged for a long time, then packed up their belongs and decided to drive back home.
While Casida had gone the Route 91 Harvest Festival each of the past four years, it was her mother’s first time.
Neither plans to go back.
Though Lemoore’s Lisa and Desirae Casida did not suffer serious physical injury from the Las Vegas shooting, the mother and daughter remain mentally distraught.
Though neither suffered serious physical injury, they say they remain mentally distraught.
And it could be a long time until they attend another concert.
“I love country music,” Casida said. “But I don’t know if I’ll ever go to another concert”
Chris Young concert
FIRST CONCERT OF THE 2017 BIG FRESNO FAIR
- Vitals: 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Paul Paul Theater of The Big Fresno Fair
- Tickets: Prices range from $33 to $38