Las Vegas police officer Cordell Hendrex said a silent prayer as he rode an elevator to the 31st floor of Mandalay Bay while a gunman fired on a country music festival below.
He prayed for his trainee, officer Elif Varsin, who was on her second day. He prayed for himself and the hotel security managers with him. He prayed for the people taking gunfire.
Hendrex, Varsin and the guards were among the first to respond to the hotel’s upper floors.
Details of what he confronted emerged Wednesday in a report he filled out after the Oct. 1 shooting — part of about 2,000 pages of records released by the Metropolitan Police Department.
Hendrex and Varsin were writing citations at the Mandalay Bay security office when the call of an active shooter crackled over the radio. Hendrex took off across the casino floor, hearing gunfire over the radio. A security guard said he heard the shots were coming from the 31st floor.
“I then told him to take me there,” Hendrex wrote.
When the elevator door finally opened, the floor was empty and quiet at first, and Hendrex had drawn his gun. The group moved to the end of the north wing of the hotel.
“The sound of the shots were so very loud and reverberated through the hall like thunder all around and above us,” Hendrex wrote in his report.
He could tell the gunfire was coming from the 32nd floor and told his group to back away from the end of the hall, Hendrex wrote. The stench of gunpowder lingered in the hall, a security manager later told investigators.
“I know I hesitated and remember being terrified with fear and I think that I froze right there in the middle of the hall for how long I can’t say,” Hendrex wrote. He then prayed again for safety, he wrote.
The shooting ended, and the group began securing the stairway, Hendrex wrote. A security manager told investigators the group heard the final volley of gunfire while they were in the stairway.
“It’s like the clip emptied and then we heard a single shot,” the manager told investigators.
Standing in the stairway, Hendrex noticed how dry his mouth was. He felt himself starting to get tunnel vision. He focused on his breathing. He listened to calls over his radio about reports of active shooters at other Las Vegas Strip properties.
“I thought that Las Vegas was under a very coordinated attack,” he wrote.
The motion-activated lights in the stairway lit up, but Hendrex couldn’t see anyone. More time passed, and the lights illuminated again.
“Metro Metro Metro,” a voice yelled out.
Hendrex responded. The voice belonged to Sgt. Joshua Bitsko, whom Hendrex recognized from working a Metro canine event. Bitsko was part of the team that eventually breached the gunman’s door.
“I have never been happier to see another man’s face in my life,” Hendrex wrote.