The Sunday night massacre at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas has personnel at some Salt Lake City-area music venues examining what, if anything, can be done to make their patrons safer.
From his 32nd-floor room at the nearby Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, alleged gunman Stephen Paddock fired into a crowd of more than 22,000 people attending the festival while country star Jason Aldean was onstage, resulting in at least 59 deaths and 500 people injured.
Bryn Ramjoué, the director of communications for Red Butte Garden, said the mass shooting at the outdoor set-up hit home Monday for her and her colleagues.
“We feel that sense of vulnerability, given that we’re an open-air stadium. You don’t know where that tragedy is coming from,” she said. “We got together and said this morning we’ll talk about [our security and emergency protocols] again.”
Indeed, she acknowledged the staff at Red Butte, which holds an annual summer concert series of about 30 shows, conducted an initial review in May in the wake of a terrorist bombing at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in the United Kingdom, intent on determining, “Could we get everybody out of the gates in the event of an emergency?”
She said the Las Vegas shootings will spark another review of the garden amphitheater’s procedures, including potentially instituting more thorough searches of what attendees carry inside.
“At our venue, you’re bringing in a backpack, bringing in a picnic — we’ll have conversations about, ‘Do we start to check everything?’” Ramjoué said. “But even if you do check every bag, every cooler, you don’t know what’s going on outside your venue. People still have the ability to destroy lives.”
Frank Zang, spokesman for Vivint Smart Home Arena, said the recent $125 million renovation included several bolstered security measures, including a series of balusters surrounding the venue, plus a new camera system.
Those, in addition to magnetometers long in place, and the security guidelines set out as a result of the arena’s partnership with the National Basketball Association, lead him to believe “we are at or above industry standards.
“We have always been ahead of the curve,” he added, “thanks to all the preparation necessary dating back to hosting the Olympics.”
That said, he acknowledged that even with “a very seasoned security and guest services staff” in place, public vigilance remains important.
“We still have messages around the arena: ‘If you see something, say something.’ … We all have to band together to protect ourselves,” he noted. “Security and the staff will do everything possible, but we all have to be watchful and report any concerns we may have.”
Representatives from several other Salt Lake Valley music venues either declined comment or did not respond to requests for such.
Meanwhile, Ramjoué grew philosophical, expressing profound sadness that concerts — events designed to get attendees’ minds off the world’s problems for a couple hours — are now being treated as target-rich opportunities for chaos, as evidenced by Las Vegas, Manchester, and at the Bataclan concert hall as part of a coordinated series of terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015.
“That is truly terror isn’t it?” she said. “Taking something that is supposed to be good and joyful and happy and turning it into death and destruction.”