Kessingland newlyweds tell of horror as they are caught in Las Vegas shooting
PUBLISHED: 17:46 06 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:46 06 October 2017
When Philip and Vanessa Dyer made the spontaneous decision to tie the knot in Las Vegas they could never have possibly imagined how they would spend their wedding night.
The Kessingland pair, who have been together for 17 years, were holidaying in the entertainment capital of the world when they made an off-the-cuff decision to finally say “I do”.
Following in the footsteps of so many couples before them, they said their vows inside the iconic Little White Chapel.
However, their wedding night ended like no others before them - huddled for safety and fearing for their lives in the cupboard of a shoe shop with around 30 others.
The new Mr and Mrs Dyer were just moments away from the Mandalay Bay Hotel when Stephen Paddock unleashed the most deadly mass shooting in US history on Sunday.
They were staying at the Luxor Hotel, just metres away from where Paddock launched his assault, which killed 58 people.
The pair were walking on the Las Vegas Strip when the shooting began at around 10am local time.
Mr Dyer, 50, said: “We went back to our hotel after the wedding to get changed and had gone to the Venetian before having a steak dinner, it was all very romantic.
“We were walking back to our hotel but had bought too many things so went into this little shop to look for a bag. As soon as we came out we heard the shots.
“Vanessa turned to me and said it sounded like machine gun fire, but at first I did not believe it could possibly be that.
“Everybody around us looked confused to begin with, but within moments people began screaming and running towards us.”
The couple were ushered into a nearby shoe shop - Famous Footwear - where staff were urging people to take cover in their storage cupboard, before closing the shutters on the shop.
Mr Dyer added: “There were around 30 of us in there, so we all kept each other fairly calm, as strange as it sounds.
“One person had a police scanner with them, so we could hear all the messages between officers and at first there were fears there was more than one shooter and that police cars had been stolen. It was terrifying.”
Mrs Dyer, 57, added: “All we could hear outside was gunfire and sirens, but it didn’t really feel real - it was like being in a film.
“My phone battery had died so I couldn’t get messages home. I was petrified, knowing how much my family would be worrying.”
The pair spent between three and four hours in the cupboard, with police instructing the group to stay put for their own safety.
Among those in hiding with them was a child, who had thrown up through fear, and others who cried, but Mr Dyer said for the most part the group supported one another through the ordeal.
Once the group were allowed out of the cupboard, much of the city still remained under police lock down, with the new Mr and Mrs Dyer taking brief refuge in the nearby MGM Casino and Hotel, which had reopened.
On returning to their hotel room, the pair could see the path of destruction left by the gunman.
Mr Dyer said: “Our hotel room was facing the site of the music festival - we actually watched some of the show from our window the night before.
“When we got back, we looked out and could see the devastation below, it was terrible.
“We could also see the Mandalay Bay Hotel from there and the single curtain hanging out of the window from where the shooter was. It was a chilling sight.”
Mrs Dyer added: “It was certainly not the way we wanted to spend our wedding night.
“However, we will always remember that night, but for all the wrong reasons.”
While they were able to escape physical harm, their story could have been drastically different.
Mr Dyer said: “Had we not stopped to look at that bag, we probably would have been in the exact area at that time.
“It is still all over the news in America and we have been following it closely praying that the death count doesn’t increase.”
His new wife added: “We are both alive and we are extremely thankful for that, but God bless those who did not make it.” Mr Dyer, a lorry driver, and Mrs Dyer, a community phlebotomist, have since left Las Vegas for the next part of their holiday, flying to New York City two days after the horror unfolded.
They return to their Kessingland home on Wednesday.
Genevive Dyer, Mr Dyer’s mother, said: “I was absolutely terrified. My phone has been ringing off the hook since with people asking how they are.
“I’m just so relieved they are both safe.”