When 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas, 29 people were killed and another 500 were injured. The largest mass shooting in American history, the Las Vegas massacre has been plastered all over the news since it happened (and rightly so.)
But in times of horror like this, we need to remember those people who risked and sacrificed their lives to save others.
"There were so many people, just normal citizens, doctors, cops, paramedics, nurses, just off-duty. Everyone's just communicating and working together," said a festival-goer Vanessa. "It was completely horrible, but it was absolutely amazing to see all the people come together."
These are their stories.
30-year-old copy machine repairman Jonathan Smith was shot in the neck while saving others from the mass shooting. Smith was originally focused on getting his nieces out safely, but when everyone got separated, he turned his focus to other frightened guests. He grabbed people and told them to follow him and brought them all to safety.
“I got a few people out of there,” Smith said. “You could hear the shots. It sounded like it was coming from all over Las Vegas Boulevard.”
Smith noticed some young girls were not totally shielded, so he stood up to urge them to move and get on the ground. That's when he was shot.
“I couldn’t feel anything in my neck. There was a warm sensation in my arm,” said Smith. “I might have to live with this bullet for the rest of my life."
But Smith says he's not a hero.
“I don’t see myself that way,” he said. “I would want someone to do the same for me. No one deserves to lose a life coming to a country festival.”
A nurse from Tennessee, Sonny Melton lost his life which protecting his wife during the shooting. Heather Melton says she knew the moment her husband was about to die.
"He saved my life. He grabbed me and started running when I felt him get shot in the back," she told WSMV. "I want everyone to know what a kind-hearted, loving man he was, but at this point, I can barely breathe."
Melton says she lost her true love and knight in shining armor.
Kurt Fowler, an off-duty firefighter, was shot and seriously injured while protecting his wife. Fowler was laying on top of his wife, Trina, shielding her from gunfire. The bullet hit his leg, and shattered his fibula and tibula.
"Kurt’s surgical team has completed the surgery on Kurt’s leg and the doctors are optimistic," says a GoFundMe page set up for Fowler. "He will have to go through an extensive recovery and rehab that could range from 7 to 10 months before he can return back to the job he loves."
"Kurt is a very devoted family man. Good father, good husband," union president and fire captain Steve Bunn said. "Everything he does is oriented around his wife and kids. Good firefighter. He's well-liked here. He's one of our brothers, and we're doing the best we can to support him and his family."
Jack Beaton died while shielding his wife, Laurie, from bullets.
"He put Laurie on the ground and covered her with his body and he got shot I don't know how many times," Laurie's father, Jerry Cook, told BakersfieldNow. "Laurie was saying he was bleeding through the mouth, bleeding profusely, she knew he was dying. He told her he loved her. Laurie could tell he was slipping. She told him she loved him and she would see him in heaven."
Firefighter Steve Keys was performing CPR on an injured woman when he was shot in the chest. Mike Brown recalls speaking to Keys.
"He said: "Yeah, I got shot"," Brown said. "He lifts his shirt up. He was shot in the chest. He said: "I'll be fine"."
Keys survived his bullet wound, and posted about the ordeal on Facebook.
"Prayers needed. Lot of people hit. A lot killed. Was doing CPR on a woman in the concert when I got grazed. I'm ok. But a lot of people aren't," he wrote. "I am lucky. Stayed behind on the street to help people. Worked along side a lot of f****** heroic men and women. Please, please, please say prayers."
Taylor Winston and Jenn Lewis
Taylor Winston, a former marine, and his friend Jenn Lewis, were at the concert with a group of friends. When shots rang out, they knew they had to help.
“Jenn and I luckily found a truck with keys in it and started transporting priority victims to the hospital and made a couple trips and tried to help out the best we could until more ambulances could arrive,” Winston said.
The duo managed to transport more than two dozen people to hospital before they bled out.
A retired school teacher, Mike Cronk braved gunfire to help his friend who had been shot. Cronk used his shirt to stop the bleeding.
"We slid him under the stage. Another awesome lady came over and compressed," Cronk recalled. "I'm no hero, but there's a lot of heroes out there."
Chris Bethel, an Iraq war veteran, was staying two floors below the shooter at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
“I could just hear the gun shots. Continuously. Just full automatic,” said Bethel. “There’s explosions going off. It was like, a bomb just went off man. And then there were more gun shots.”
Bethel called police to tell them what was going on.
“I could just see everybody running… and I kept looking at the windows to see if I could see any kind of muzzle flash to see if I could see where the shooter was,” Bethel described. “I crouched by my front door. In hopes that I might get the opportunity to see the shooter if he ran by and I could identify him. About 10 minutes later the Las Vegas Police Department called me to let me know that the shooter was on the 32nd floor. Room 135, and that they had gotten him."
Now all Bethel wants to do is go home.
“I feel like I didn’t do enough. I feel like I couldn’t get a hold of somebody quick enough to let them know. And it felt like it took them too long to get over there… to take him out. To get him. And it’s actually eating me up inside,” said Bethel. “I just need to go home. That’s my thing. I need to go home to my family. And just process all of this.”
These are just some of the stories that have come out about the incredible heroism from people at the concert. We know there are many more, and we want to thank them, as well as the first responders, for their bravery.