More than six weeks after it happened, America is still grappling with the tragic deaths of 58 innocent people in Las Vegas.
Hundreds of people were also injured when gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Festival. While police are still investigating Paddock's motivations, they say he opened fire on the crowd from his room in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino before taking his own life.
In the days after the shooting, survivors shared stories of heroes who rescued them from certain death. One of the people recognized for helping to prevent further bloodshed was Mandalay Bay security guard Jesus Campos. He confronted Paddock moments after he opened fire, and helped bring police to his hotel room.
In an emotional interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Campos described the moment he confronted the shooter:
But Jason Aldean, the country star who was performing on stage when Paddock opened fire on the crowd, has avoided discussing the shooting over the past six weeks. While he's shared his feelings through social media posts and played at benefit concerts for the shooting victims, he hasn't given an interview about his experience during the attack. Until now.
Aldean sat down with the Today show this week, sharing his memories of the shooting, and revealing how he's coping in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Aldean's pregnant wife, Brittany Kerr Aldean, described having to duck behind sound equipment backstage as bullets flew over her head. But in the moment, Aldean says he was slow to realize what was happening.
Aldean revealed that because he and his band wear noise-canceling inner ear buds, the singer mistook the sound of gunfire for a broken speaker. “Then it happened again and it lasted longer the second time," Aldean said, "I looked over at my monitor guy on the side of the stage as if to say ‘What is that?’ and ‘Fix it.’”
In video of the shooting, you can see the moment Aldean realized what was really happening:
As Aldean turned his head back, he noticed his band members were running off the stage, as security guards raced to evacuate them. Thankfully, Aldean and his band all escaped the concert unharmed, but the country star remembers the chaos as he tried to flee the concert with thousands of people.
“Everybody just kind of panicked and didn’t know where to go and what to do.”
As if surviving the shooting wasn't tough enough, Aldean described his "incredibly difficult" week after, which saw him returning home to visit his family, traveling to New York to appear on SNL, then returning to Vegas to visit shooting victims at local hospitals.
Over the last 24 hrs I have gone through lots of emotions. Fear, Anger, Heartache, Compassion and many others. I truely dont understand why a person would want to take the life of another. Something has changed in this country and in this world lately that is scary to see. This world is becoming the kind of place i am afraid to raise my children in. At the end of the day we arent Democrats or Republicans, Whites or Blacks, Men or Women. We are all humans and we are all Americans and its time to start acting like it and stand together as ONE! That is the only way we will ever get this Country to be better than it has ever been, but we have a long way to go and we have to start now. My heart aches for the Victims and their families of this Senseless act. I am so sorry for the hurt and pain everyone is feeling right now and there are no words i can say to to take that pain away. Just know u all are in my heart and my prayers as we all go through this together. Time to come together and stop the hate! #stopthehate #prayforlasvegas
But as he returns to his busy schedule, Aldean says that "being back up on stage probably helped us more than anything." He hopes that Americans take his thoughts about coming together as a nation to heart. “We’re all gonna try to move on," he says, "and I have to do that as well, but it’s something I’ll never forget.”
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