NetApp 'A-Team' Solution Providers Forced To Evacuate Mandalay Bay In Wake Of Las Vegas Shooting

Solution providers attending an exclusive NetApp dinner were forced to evacuate the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino Sunday night in the wake of the shooting that killed at least 58 people and injured hundreds.

The solution providers were in Las Vegas to attend NetApp's Insight 2017 user conference, which was scheduled to run Oct. 2 to Oct. 5 at the hotel. The company has canceled event activities scheduled for Monday but will proceed as scheduled starting Tuesday.

Several solution providers who are members of NetApp's "A-Team" of evangelizers were having dinner in the Mandalay Bay when the shooting started, said Glenn Dekhayser, field chief technology officer at Red8, a Costa Mesa, Calif.-based solution provider and NetApp partner.

[Related: NetApp, Tech CEOs Offer Condolences In Wake Of Las Vegas Mass Shooting]

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Dekhayser, an A-Team member who was at the dinner, told CRN that he was about to leave the dinner early to meet a customer at the New York-New York hotel when the customer contacted him and told him to not go anywhere, which is how Dekhayser first learned of the shooting.

At that point the dinner was interrupted as word of the shooting began to spread.

"The restaurant staff told us to leave. We left the restaurant headed toward the [Mandalay Bay] convention center when we saw a group of heavily armed police walking our way," Dekhayser told CRN. "They had their guns pointed out and pushed us to move faster to leave the hotel."

Dekhayser never heard any gunshots and does not know whether the shooting was still going on as the group was evacuated.

"Police then walked us out of the conference center," he said. "The cops had us going south down Las Vegas Boulevard to the Town Square shopping center. A lot of people [were low on power] and couldn't use their cellphones. Dave Hitz walked part of the way with us," Dekhayser said, speaking of the NetApp founder and executive vice president, who was also among the evacuees.

Mandalay Bay and several other area hotels, including the MGM Grand and the Luxor, were on lockdown, leaving anyone not already in their hotel rooms to find new places to stay for the night.

Dekhayser and other A-Team solution providers had to book rooms at other Las Vegas hotels.

John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems (IAS), a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and longtime NetApp channel partner who was not at the dinner, told CRN he had just gotten to his room at the Mandalay Bay when he heard the shooting.

"My room is on the same side of the hotel as the gunman's room, overlooking the music festival," Woodall said. "I could hear it was gunfire."

"It appears the gunman had a perfect perch," Woodall added.

All of IAS' staff at Insight are safe, Woodall said.

One co-worker had a room at another area hotel, and three others joined him there for the evening after being forced to leave the Mandalay Bay because of the lockdown. "When police said to get out, they managed to get a taxi before the street was locked down and got to the Hard Rock," he said.

Meanwhile, Woodall and a colleague are holed up in the Mandalay Bay, while another got stuck at the airport, he said.

A NetApp customer in Las Vegas to attend the event said he first learned how serious the evening's tragedy was "at 3 a.m. when police pounded on hotel doors at the Mandalay Bay."

The customer, speaking to CRN on condition of anonymity, said he heard yelling in the hallway.

"I was going to yell out the door to tell them to be quiet, but when I opened the door there were four police officers in the hall. Two of them came in and swept the room while two stayed in the hall," the customer said.

NetApp has offered to help provide new travel arrangements to attendees who wish to leave Las Vegas in the wake of the tragedy.

A massive investigation is continuing Monday morning, with police blocking off the front entrances of the Mandalay Bay and Luxor hotels. Rear entrances to the hotels are open. Police have also taped off the section of Las Vegas Blvd. that runs near the hotels.

One police officer directing pedestrians away from the hotel entrances described the evening as "chaos" and said no one would be allowed in the front of the Mandalay Bay.

The casino floor of the normally bustling Mandalay Bay was eerily quiet Monday morning. A small number of gamblers could be seen at a gaming table, with a few others playing slot machines.

It will be a difficult time to be at NetApp Insight, Dekhayser said. "I'm not in a mood to celebrate," he said.