“11 minutes” docuseries shares harrowing survival story


Image from Rotten Tomatoes

Ali Smith, Arts and Leisure Editor

Erie, Pa, January 31, 2023—In a time where violence and chaos consume the world, mass shootings have become more of an anticipated daily headline rather than being taken as the tragedy they really are.

In September, Paramount+ released a docuseries describing the most deadly mass shooting in American history titled “11 Minutes.”

On October 1, 2017, gunfire was opened from the Mandalay Bay hotel overlooking the Route 91 Harvest music festival.

In just 11 minutes, with more than a thousand bullets fired, sixty people were killed and 413 were wounded. After panic ensued in the aftermath of the shooting, the injury count climbed to 867.

Sadly, I had no clue just how many were injured and lost their lives to this horrifying act until I had watched the series.

And I am a country music fan.

The series provides the point of view of a wide range of individuals, including victims, first responders and headliner for the evening Jason Aldean.

The series shares a message of triumph of survivors rather than advocacy for gun control. It speaks to the unmatched bravery displayed by those who made it out of the night alive, and those who helped others see morning.

The show is narrated by country music radio personality Storme Warren, who delicately and emotionally approached the retelling of the Route 91 tragedy.

Episode one, titled “The Night Everything Changed,” includes raw, live footage taken by concertgoers of the moments leading up to and during the attack.

Twenty-two thousand fans gathered in celebration of country music on the Las Vegas strip, where only a few songs into Aldean’s set, tragedy struck.

The raw footage is both captivating and emotional. But the angle taken by directors and the attitudes adopted by survivors are what brought hope to this despondent situation.

The second episode chronicles the concertgoers escaping from what has now been coined the “killing field,” where everyone in the concert venue was an open target to the bullets raining from overhead.

Las Vegas Metro Police had officers down who continued to help people over fences and to ambulances before treating their own critical wounds. The docuseries even reveals that a civilian, Jonathan Smith, who was shot in the neck, went back into the line of fire to help others escape.

That is what made this documentary so powerful. Despite an unbelievable amount of casualties, the survivors and the country music community were still able to hold onto hope.

A woman surviving a gunshot wound to the face, Natalie Grumet, had also survived a ten-year battle with breast cancer, and the Route 91 music festival was her celebration of her remission. She shared in her interviews within the docuseries that she did not beat cancer to die at the hands of evil that night. The paramedics didn’t think she’d make it due to the severity of her injuries, but she proved to be a fighter.

Episode three, “I Love You I Love You I Love You,” shows the gruesome scene of the overwhelmed Las Vegas hospital and local hotels trying to accommodate to and shelter the wounded.

It also notifies of the shooter’s demise to a self-inflicted gun-shot wound to the head.

What is special about the show is how the stories overlap. This survivor helping the other. This survivor’s father tracking down the suspect. The seasoned police officer aiding a wounded rookie on his first day. So special, you have to experience the series to witness the bonds created by the kind of immeasurable love displayed that night that triumphed evil.

There are so many more stories to tell. There are so many stories the documentary does tell.

I also appreciated that Paramount+ directors never once said the name of the shooter, but on top of sharing the stories of victims and the triumph of survivors, named every single victim of a mass shooting from the last five years in the credits.

It’s important to say their names. But it is even more alarming to see how many names there are.

The series is now streaming on Paramount+, and it’s definitely a shocking, but inspiring watch.