Jessica Maldoon started going to Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., when she was just 18 years old, after a friend took her there to introduce her to country music. Although she wasn’t a fan herself at the time, she tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she has been “hooked ever since.” As part of the Borderline bar community, she bought her tickets to the 2017 Route 91 Harvest music festival with friends at the bar, and survived the mass shootings at the event in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017.
Now, the 24-year-old from Ventura County, Calif., is speaking out about having to contend with the reality of another tragedy so close to home — just over one year after surviving the Las Vegas shooting. Maldoon told Yahoo Lifestyle she wishes that the country music community who found solace at Borderline will continue to look for hope, at the venue and at events for years to come.
“For something like this to happen has really, really shaken the community,” Maldoon says of Wednesday night’s tragedy, which left at least 13 people dead. “I’ve lived here my entire life, and it’s been a good and very, very safe environment to grow up in. Some would even argue it’s a little sheltered from what goes on in the outside world, because of how safe we’ve managed to keep the county for the most part.”
However, Maldoon and her friends already had that facade of security shattered when they attended Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas, where 58 people were killed by gunman Stephen Paddock. She was with three other friends when bullets rained down onto the crowd.
“The four of us that night experienced something that no one should ever have to in their entire lives,” she says of her friends, who got separated once shots were fired, but fortunately all survived. “It’s been the hardest year of healing for all of us. It’s taught a lot of us about ourselves, it’s taught us a lot about the goodness of other people.”
Somehow, they’ve managed to continue to see that goodness, thanks to the strangers who helped them escape safely that evening, and thanks to those who rallied around survivors at Borderline Bar and Grill.
From hosting memorial services and fundraisers for both the survivors and the victims of Route 91, to ensuring that country music fans were able to maintain a semblance of community, Maldoon characterizes Borderline as a safe haven.
“If I were to describe the people of Borderline with one word, it would be “welcoming.” Everybody there makes you feel at home,” she explains. “They have made us feel that we have a place where we are safe and understood, that we can still enjoy ourselves and still live and love our lives. And to see this turn around and happen to them is completely heartbreaking and devastating.”
But even Maldoon can find a silver lining amongst the two tragedies, explaining that she and other Route 91 survivors are now prepared to help those who are about to embark on the difficult journey of healing, which they have already had to face.
“We are here as a community to help them,” Maldoon assures. “It’s the suckiest community to be a part of, but it’s also the greatest, because it means that something terrible and awful has happened to you. But now you have hundreds and hundreds of people who, no matter what you need, will have your back.”
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