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Red Rocks shooting: Westword's Mary Willson documents the four hours it took to escape

Categories: Colorado Crimes

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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.

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Mary Willson
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.

At 11:30, we still hadn't moved. Here's my tweet about that.

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.

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.

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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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24 comments
John Hargett
John Hargett

BUT-they love Jesus, and i think that is precious

John Hargett
John Hargett

I disagree. Mary's got the stuff of an Oscar Nominated feature "4 Hours a Slave"

Bryan Moberg
Bryan Moberg

Jesus Christ westword its just filler article after filler article

Brandon Moana
Brandon Moana

See what had happened was this.... I sat in my car waiting but home boys had decided to pop some one and darn po po came. I had never seen this happening when a bunch of peeps gather.

Marcus Tompkins
Marcus Tompkins

Haters gonna hate. Hit the back arrow if you're so mad. I kind of like the different perspective, the somewhat community involvement ya know.

Zach Carsel
Zach Carsel

I find it mildly entertaining when people bitch about it. The state of journalism, in general, is pretty sad. It is in flux.

Lindsey Clark
Lindsey Clark

Its actually interesting for those people who were there and stuck too...

Lindsay Abbott
Lindsay Abbott

Oh I agree! It just gets old seeing people bitch about every story. Like they take personal offense to some of Westwards dumb stories.

Luke Henderson
Luke Henderson

They do plenty of good stories too, but a moment by moment delay in leaving a concert is a little on the fluff side of things.

Karen Christie
Karen Christie

I don't know that it was pointless. They head to appeal to the audience that wasn't impressed with the whining in the other article.

Lindsay Abbott
Lindsay Abbott

People complain about Westword's "journalism" yet they still follow them on Facebook. If you are going to bitch about every stupid thing they post, than go unlike them. Not hard...

Luke Henderson
Luke Henderson

I think we might be using the term 'escape' a little loosely here.

sballardo672
sballardo672

Well, at least we know you're not nearly as dramatic as Bree.

Casey Schaefer
Casey Schaefer

That was the most pointless story I have ever read. Why did you post this? Westword, you fill up my wall with pointless garbage.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Funny post, John. Thanks.

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