Witness describes horror of Las Vegas shooting
Bradenton residents Frank Hill and Summer Radtke-Hill were ripped from their sleep early Monday by the call no parent ever wants to get.
Their daughter, Hannah Lassette Ahlers, 34, was among the 58 people killed attending the final day of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas when Stephen Paddock started shooting concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino across the street.
The gunfire lasted for nine to 11 minutes, according to authorities, before police reached Paddock’s hotel room. It is believed that Paddock died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
While it was Hill who got the phone call, his wife could hear every word since they were in bed, she said.
“There had to have been a mistake, not my Hannah,” Radtke-Hill recalled thinking.
The call came from their son, Lance Miller, 45, who had just received a call from his brother-in-law and Ahlers’ husband, Brian.
The Hills said they knew their daughter was in Vegas from Beaumont, Calif., with her husband and friends, but didn’t know details about the concert.
“Hannah and Brian were up closer to the stage on the right side,” she explained, “and everybody else was scattered around.”
When the couple first heard shots being fired, they looked up but thought it had been fireworks, so they went back to dancing and holding one another, the Hills explained.
But then the couple heard more shots, and when they looked that time, Hannah Ahlers fell to the ground and her husband, Brian, threw himself over her to protect her. It was too late, however. Hannah Ahlers had been shot in the head.
“It was instant,” Radtke-Hill said, sounding relieved that her daughter had not suffered.
At the scene some had thought that their son-in-law had been shot also, because he had their daughter’s blood all over him.
“We are praying for him because what he witnessed no one should have ever have to,” Hill said.
Ahlers, a stay-at-home mother, leaves behind three children — Briannah, 14; Brice, 11 and Hailey, 3. The youngest and Ahhlers had last visited Bradenton in June.
“She loved being a homemaker,” her mother said. “She didn’t want anyone else raising her children.”
Ahlers also leaves behind her two siblings — Miller, of Beaumont, Calif., and Sarah Avalos, 39, of Lithia.
The only solace the Hills have is knowing that there daughter is in heaven now, they said.
“She had absolutely loved the Lord and so there is no doubt,” Radtke-Hill said. “We will all be together again.”
Their daughter was a devoted Christian, they explained, who strongly believed in Jesus. It was her faith to which they attribute her positive demeanor and the unconditional love she always had for everyone.
“She never had any enemies,” her father said.
The family were California natives, and the Hills had only recently moved to Florida four years ago, and most recently to Bradenton in February. On Wednesday evening, the Hills were already in Beaumont to plan their daughter’s celebration of life.
Her mother described their relationship as that of kindred spirits.
“Her and I were so much alike,” she said. “We could tell each other anything.”
And she always had a smile on her face.
“In her 34 years, I never saw anger on her face,” her father said. “She would get frustrated, but she would never get angry.”
A friend of Hannah and Brian Ahlers has started a GoFundMe account to raise money for the family, https://www.gofundme.com/hannah-ahlers-las-vegas-victim.