I'd gotten a phone notification that morning, reminding me to attend T.I.'s Irving Plaza concert that night. I was excited to see Tip perform in NYC; it had been a while since I'd caught a performance from the self-proclaimed King of the South. Covering the show for work, I arrived at Irving and ran into a friend while heading up a set of stairs leading to the venue's VIP section.

As expected, upstairs was overcrowded, a U-shaped space filled with people standing from wall to wall. To get a better view, we made our way deeper into the VIP section, ultimately finding a clear look at the stage a few feet from the door leading to Irving Plaza's green room and backstage area.

At least an hour went by, and I turned to my friend. "I'm getting really sleepy," I shared, and tilted my head to the side. Suddenly, a crowd of people were swarming around me, shaking me, and screaming for me to wake up.

The space was so suffocatingly overcrowded, I'd passed out from being overheated. After helping me come to, security brought me to my feet and sat me in a chair. Still shaken, I was stunned to hear a loud "Boom!" and people screaming. I was thrown to the ground as a chair was thrown in front of me, and my friend jumped on top of me to protect me. I was completely confused and still in shock--until I saw a pool of blood on the floor to my right and a bullets flying from a gun over me.

Terrified, I played dead and prayed the next bullet wasn't aimed for me. After the shooter and his entourage passed, my friend stood up and yelled for us to go. Shaking and teary-eyed, he yelled for me to "Forget your stuff, let's go." I was frantically searching for my purse, determined to find my purse because I didn't want any evidence of me laying around.

Suddenly finding it, I grabbed my friend's hand and we ran to the stairs. We reached the main level before my friend took me to a corner and asked if I was okay.  Before I could say anything, more gunshots were fired near us. I froze and prayed the shooter didn't turn around, look at us and take me out just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It seemed as though every exit, except the main doorway, was locked. After what seemed like an eternity, a locked exit was suddenly unlocked, and I was being pulled down another set of stairs and out of a back door of the building--fervently told to "keep running."

Eventually we stopped running, and I noticed my feet were covered in blood from being trampled and stepped on while I'd been lying on the floor, terrified and waiting for the shooting to stop. I was hysterical, out of breath and scared shitless.

"Is this your first one?" my friend grabbed me and asked. "Are you crazy?" I thought. "This better be my only one!"

Once the shock wore off and the tears stopped, I walked into the dreary New York night, away from Irving Plaza – as many blocks as my bloody feet could take - and waved for a taxi. I cried the whole way home.

My friend called to make sure I was okay. He told me I was lucky to pass out when I did because if I hadn't, I could have been hit by the first bullet to come through the backstage door and into the VIP section. Thank God for God.

It's been a year and so much about that night has yet to be resolved. But with the loss of a life at Irving Plaza last year, and those who were tragically killed in the bombing at Manchester Arena last week, we should be reminded that a great night out could end in tragedy for any one of us. We should all be able to enjoy our favorite performer without worrying about death. This shouldn't happen--in Manchester, Manhattan and all points in-between.

Be safe, everyone.


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