Like the rest of the world, Amber Wescott awoke early Monday to news of a horrific mass shooting at a Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas.
But for Wescott, 30, of Greenacres, the panic was personal.
Her cousin was there.
“She’s physically OK, but she’s emotionally distraught,” said Wescott of cousin Amanda Whitnum, 26, of Las Vegas, who was at the show where three of her friends were shot by gunman Stephen Paddock. “Her husband shielded her and picked her up as they ran. I don’t know how (her friends) are doing.”
Wescott, a massage therapist and Jason Aldean fan who attended the country star’s “They Don’t Know” tour when it stopped in August at Coral Sky Amphitheatre, says she knew that her cousin was planning to attend the show. So when “my phone was going nuts with (news) alerts” before 6 a.m., she spent several tense moments trying to track her cousin down.
“The first thing I thought of was her. I called her and she didn’t answer. I called my aunt, her mother, and she didn’t answer,” Wescott says. “I checked Facebook’s check-in page, and my aunt had checked in, and shortly after that my cousin checked in.”
Whitnum, a special education teacher, had attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival, at which Aldean was playing, all weekend and had recorded many of the acts on Snapchat, Wescott says. She, like her cousin, is a fan of Aldean, who “seems just like a kind of regular hometown guy. His music speaks to anyone who hunts and loves the country lifestyle.”
Wescott, a Loxahatchee native, says that she believes that Aldean and others will do a benefit concert like Ariana Grande, who returned to Manchester, England and did a concert for the victims of a bombing at her concert in that city.
Aldean and other country acts “will come together,” said Wescott. “Country is country-wide, as they say. You’re truly never alone if you like country music. You know that you have friends.”
She says that the shootings will not be a deterrent for her going to future concerts.
But, she added, it was “pretty upsetting…showing pictures of dead bodies on the news. Every time I see that I think, ‘That’s somebody’s child.’ Have a little class and respect.”