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By David Bauder, AP News | A pair of cowboy boots that Ashley Hoff never thought she would see again helped unlock a powerful story about the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The resulting film, “11 Minutes,” is an inside account of the 2017 massacre at a country music festival in Las Vegas and, more importantly, about how it reverberated in the lives of those who were there. More than three hours long, the four-part documentary debuts Tuesday on the Paramount+ streaming service.

“I’ve never felt more useful or more like the universe put me exactly where I was supposed to be,” said Hoff, an executive producer of “11 Minutes.”

It seems like a strange sentiment given that Hoff was at the show on Oct. 1, 2017, four rows from the stage as Jason Aldean sang “Any Ol’ Barstool.” Hoff heard popping sounds that she and her husband, Shaun, first dismissed as fireworks — not the work of a gunman firing from a nearby hotel window.

She turned to look at her husband and saw someone just behind him struck in the face by a bullet. They alternated ducking to the ground for cover and running away, depending on when they could hear the gunshots.

At one point, she kicked off her cowboy boots because it was too slippery to run in them, eventually escaping the killing field where 58 people died that night, and two more later of their injuries. More than 850 people were hurt before the gunfire stopped.

Nine months later, an FBI agent was at Hoff’s door with her boots — part of a little-known unit that returns property left behind by people caught in these incidents.

Hoff, already in the film business, thought that made an intriguing subject. She was encouraged to broaden her focus through her experience with fellow survivors and the involvement of director Jeff Zimbalist and veteran producers Susan Zirinsky and Terence Wrong.

Many survivors, like herself, were unhappy with media coverage of the massacre, believing there was too much focus on the gunman and that it was forgotten too soon.

“We all went back to our corners to suffer in silence,” she said.

The film takes you vividly inside the event with cellphone and police body-cam footage. The cooperation of Las Vegas police was key, bringing footage like the race to hospitals with survivors and the moment when a tactical unit burst into the casino hotel room where the gunman had barricaded himself.

The experiences of people like Jonathan Smith, a Black concertgoer who had felt unwelcome because of a white man’s remark wondering why he was there, and Natalie Grumet, who had just survived cancer, are weaved throughout the story. Both were seriously injured.

“Is it easy to watch? No, but it shouldn’t be easy to watch,” said SiriusXM host Storme Warren, who was onstage in Las Vegas that night. “I don’t know why you would tell the story if it were easy to watch.”
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David Bauder has been writing about media for The Associated Press since 1996. Follow him on Twitter at

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‘Good, bad or ugly’: New doc ’11 Minutes’ looks back at 2017 Las Vegas country music fest shooting

By Marcus Dowling, USA Today | Nearly five years have elapsed since a gunman opened fire on thousands of people at the Route 91 Harvest Festival outside the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, as country music star Jason Aldean began his headlining set.

The eleven minutes of gunfire that took place Oct. 1, 2017 left 60 people dead and more than 800 injured – the largest mass shooting in American history.

Released Thursday on Paramount+, a new documentary “11 Minutes,” remembers, explores and memorializes the day when mass murderer Stephen Paddock opened fire from 32 stories in the air.

Storme Warren, the award-winning radio host who served as Route 91 Harvest Festival’s onstage host, told The Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY Network, that “11 Minutes” chronicles a “painful and cathartic” set of “really hard scenes, sounds, and stories that were heard and experienced.”

The 200-minute, four-episode feature shows country music is as much about celebrating the intersections of faith and family as it is a referendum on how Americans have internalized trauma and how they will process it in the future. It contemplates how the country music industry centers its proudest legacies around camaraderie and a willful acceptance of humanity’s flaws and beauty.

In an exclusive interview with The Tennessean, Warren referenced the genuine familial aspects of the community that bonded the country music genre’s artists and fans, tested and strengthened by the tragedy.

“Everyone (at the festival) felt like they lost and found pieces of themselves there. Highlighting inspiration, empowerment, healing, good Samaritan generosity and hope emerging from horrific circumstances guides so much of this documentary,” Warren said.

Aldean’s voice is prominent in the documentary. He describes how his bass player, Tully Kennedy, was mere inches away from being hit by a bullet onstage.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Las Vegas music fest shooting explored in new ’11 Minutes’ documentary

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