‘11 Minutes’ - Storm Lake woman shares her & others’ stories from 2017 Vegas shooting

Updated: Nov. 24, 2022 at 6:04 PM CST
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STORM LAKE, Iowa (KTIV) - A little while ago, we told you about 11 Minutes.

It’s a four-part docu-series about the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, known as the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

It was produced by Ashley Hoff; an LA-based journalist and producer who grew up in Storm Lake, Iowa and survived the shooting.

Here, we take a closer look into her experience at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, and how it inspired her to make the documentary.

Attending the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival was a tradition for Ashley Hoff and her husband, Shaun. They went each year to celebrate their anniversary. And 2017 was shaping up to be another great year, but everything took a tragic turn during the final act. The Hoffs began hearing popping noises, which they thought might be firecrackers or a blown amp.

“I went back to watching the show, and took my phone out to take a couple of photos,” said Hoff. “And I turned back to him to say ‘oh my gosh isn’t this amazing,’ and I did watch the person behind him get shot in their face.”

Panic broke out. Spectators hit the ground hoping to avoid the line of fire.

“We remained on the ground,” said Hoff. “It was really interesting. People started to weave themselves together like a human quilt, putting body parts that you knew you might be able to get shot in and survive over other people’s body parts that you knew that if they did that they might not. And so, a woman was laying on top of me, my legs were on top of Shaun.”

After the shots began to die down, people chaotically scrambled away from the scene. Hoff ended up leaving behind her cowboy boots after slipping several times as she ran away.

She and Shaun took refuge in a condo complex a few miles down the road, when they noticed another couple heading towards a second-story parking garage.

“There’s only one reason you go up to the parking garage: you’ve got a car,” said Hoff. “And we threw ourselves on top of the car. And God bless, 2 strangers, they got out. They were certainly not happy with us at first. We were bloody and dirty and on top of their windshield, and they were trying to get the heck out of there.”

The strangers hadn’t witnessed the shooting-- they were simply heading to their car while on vacation. After explaining the situation, Ashley and Shaun got a ride with them all the way back to California. Hoff says she still speaks with the couple on each anniversary of the shooting.

After returning home, Hoff couldn’t stop thinking about the cowboy boots she left behind. While the boots had no special meaning to her, she did everything to find them, including asking a friend to go back and look for them, and even getting in contact with the FBI.

Months later, she was reunited with the boots after finding them in a catalog full of missing items from the festival.

“They were the last part of me that was in that field that night, and they got to come home,” said Hoff. “And so for me, a chapter was closing and a new one got to open, a new chapter of healing. And also, they were a part of my life-saving miracle.”

Hoff’s conversation with the FBI agent who dropped off the boots helped her see the items in the catalog in a whole different light.

“They weren’t just items,” said Hoff. “They were a representation of thousands of people’s incredible story from that night. And truly, that was the moment I knew I wanted to pursue telling the story.”

She got to work shortly after, tracking down dozens of other survivors, first responders and even performers from the festival who were willing to tell their stories. She also gathered video, from survivors who had captured the chaos, and police and SWAT team body cam footage.

Now, more than five years after that tragic day, Hoff’s four-part docuseries, “11 Minutes,” is available to watch on Paramount+.

She says the documentary has helped greatly with the healing process, for herself and others.

“To hear that it is out there creating healing for people,” said Hoff. “That it is helping them to feel like our story was represented and will now be remembered, that their loved one lost will now be remembered and what they went through will be remembered, that’s the good stuff. That’s the stuff you hope to do as a creator.”

11 Minutes is now available for streaming on Paramount+.