Two days ago, the worst shooting in modern US history took place in Las Vegas, Nevada when a gunmen opened fire at the Route 91 Harvest Festival crowd, killing at least 59 and injuring more than 500 in the process. The shooting took place during the performance by country star Jason Aldean at the festival which has been taking place annually in the Las Vegas Village lot on Las Vegas Boulevard, formerly U.S. Route 91 since 2014.
The attack took place from the window of a hotel room in the nearby Mandalay Bay Resort. The perpetrator, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, shot himself an hour after the massacre, just before police could apprehend him. It is believed around 22,000 people were in attendance at the time of the shooting.
In honor of all victims and their loved ones, here are fourteen heroes who showed tremendous heart and courage in the unraveling chaos to save numerous lives, some of them giving theirs in the process.
1. Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith, is believed to have saved at least 30 people. He was at the Route 91 Harvest Festival to celebrate his brother’s 43rd birthday. The copy machine repairman from Orange County, CA, initially thought he was hearing fireworks as Jason Aldean finished his song, but soon the country singer ran off the stage, the music stopped, the lights went out and it was quickly becoming clear what was really happening. In the stampede of fleeing concertgoers that followed, Smith ended up separated from all 9 of his accompanying family members but still did his best to corral groups of terrified people and usher them to safe hiding places.
“Active shooter, active shooter, let’s go! We have to run,” he repeatedly shouted. When he stood up to urge a group of young girls to get on the ground, a bullet struck him in the neck. An off-duty San Diego police officer helped to stop his bleeding until help arrived. The 30-year-old hero thankfully survived, as did his entire family. He, however, may have to live with a bullet in the side of his neck for the rest of his life, as doctors feared further injury by trying to displace it. “I would want someone to do the same for me. No one deserves to lose a life coming to a country festival,” Smith told Washington Post.
Source: byHeatherLong , washingtonpost
2. Jack Beaton
This Twitter post was shared by Jake Beaton of Bakersfield, CA. His father, Jack Beaton, was tragically shot and killed while shielding his wife, Laurie, at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. “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.” According to his family, Beaton “never passed up an opportunity to give somebody a hand.”
This photo was posted to Reddit by user tynation – the man took a bullet while protecting the user’s sister from the gunfire. Although the post has since received more than 159 thousand upvotes, the user’s sister has yet to come forward with her side of the story, and is reportedly dealing with intense anxiety.
4. Sonny Melton with his wife, Heather
Sonny Melton, a nurse from Big Sandy, Tennessee, was celebrating his first wedding anniversary with his wife, Heather when the shooting broke out. Sonny grabbed Heather and began running, shielding her from harm, but was fatally shot in the process. “He saved my life… I felt him get shot in the back,” Heather told a Tennessee radio station. She went on to write that she had lost her “true love and knight in shining armor” in a mournful Facebook post which also stated: “Sonny was the most kind-hearted, loving man I have ever met. He saved my life and lost his.”
5. Former Marine Taylor Winston and his friend, Jenn Lewis
29-year-old Taylor Winston was near the righthand side of the stage when the shooting began. He managed to flee the scene unharmed along with his friend, Jenn Lewis, and eventually spotted a work truck with keys left in the ignition and no apparent owner. Without a second thought, they began seeking out critically wounded people and piling them in the vehicle. “People needed to get out of there, and we tried the best we could to get as many as we could,” Winston told The Daily Beast. Eventually, they were able to transport around two dozen people to the hospital after a squad car escorted them through traffic.
Source: Taylor Winston , thedailybeast
6. A young mother who took a bullet after she lept on her stricken boyfriend’s body to shield him
Source: Summer Clyburn
7. Firefighter Steve Keys
“Prayers needed. Lot of people hit. A lot killed,” firefighter Steve Keys wrote in a dramatic Facebook post from the scene. One of the first responders at the scene of the shooting, he was performing CPR on a wounded woman when a bullet grazed his chest and stomach. Although he was bleeding, Keys stayed on-site and continued helping whoever he could, and was later picked up by a friend and driven to be treated. “I’m ok. But a lot of people aren’t. I am lucky,” he further wrote.
Source: Steve Keys
8. Carly Krygier
Carly Krygier from San Diego was seated towards the back of the crowd with her young daughter when the shooting started. “I put the baby on the ground and got on top of her,” Carly told CNN, apparently without a second of hesitation. Later, they fled behind a set of bleachers, but sensing a lack of safety in that area, the pair ran to the nearby Tropicana Hotel with other escapees. Krygier went on to note that her daughter was “incredibly brave,” and did not “cry or scream or ask what was going on.” Both mother and daughter managed to escape unharmed.
Source: Carly Krygier , cnn
9. Mike Cronk
48-year-old retired teacher Mike Cronk was immediately aware of what was happening when he heard bullets hitting a nearby fence. Not long afterward, his best friend, 52-year-old Rob MacIntosh, was shot 3 times. “I saw him there and I wasn’t going to leave him,” Cronk told ABC News. With the help of some emergency medical technicians and ex members of the military, he successfully moved Rob under the concert stage and stabilized him by compressing his wounds with his own shirt. Cronk then went on to help other injured concertgoers into an ambulance, one of whom tragically died in his arms. “It could have been me that got shot. So many people… very thankful right now.”
10. Iraq War veteran Chris Bethel
Chris Bethel, an Iraq war veteran, was in Las Vegas for an IT conference. He was staying at the Mandalay Bay Resort when he heard gunshots just 2 floors up from his hotel room. He called the police, not knowing that the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history was taking place from right above him. “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,” he told CBS News. Bethel’s call would later help the police trace the shooter’s location, where they found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Source: Chris Bethel , cbs
11. Mike Mcgarry
According to a report from Reuters, Philadelphia financial adviser Mike McGarry threw himself on top of his children to protect them after he realized gunshots had broken out. “They’re 20. I’m 53,” he was quoted as saying. “I lived a good life.” As the fleeing crowd became a stampede, McGarry reportedly ended up with footprints on the back of his shirt from where people had stepped on him. Thankfully, he and his children escaped unharmed.
12. Lindsay Padgett and Mike Jay
29-year-old Lindsay Padgett thought the loud popping sounds that interrupted Jason Aldean’s performance were just part of the show – until people started screaming to ‘get on the ground.’ “I thought for sure we were all going to die,” she told ABC News. When the gunshots subsided for a while, Padgett and her fiance, Mike Jay, fled the scene unharmed and fetched their truck. “We realized there were people everywhere that needed help and on stretchers… People saw that we had a truck, so we said, ‘Fine, yeah,’ and started to pack everyone in.” On their way transporting ten people to the hospital, they encountered an ambulance and handed off their most critically injured passengers. They then continued on to bring the rest to the emergency room. “We were ready to go back and get more people, but my cousin called me because they were scared… So we went there to get my cousin and my family.”
13. Fire Captain Mark Mccurdy
Los Angeles fire captain Mark McCurdy was at the Route 91 festival with his wife, Kelly, and her sister, Jessi Preston. When Jessi was shot, McCurdy discreetly carried her back to their hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort – the same hotel from which the gunman was shooting. McCurdy then went back into the danger zone to see if any more help was needed, and then had an ambulance take Jessi to Sunrise Hospital.
Source: Kelly Presten McCurdy , thedailybeast
14. Off-duty firefighter Kurt Fowler
Off-duty firefighter Kurt Fowler from Lake Havasu City, Arizona, shielded his wife from gunfire during the Route 91 shooting, getting shot in his right leg and seriously wounded in the process. Fowler has since had surgery and is expected to recover. “Kurt is a very devoted family man. Good father, good husband,” Erickson and Desert Hills fire captain Steve Bunn told CBS News. “He’s one of our brothers, and we’re doing the best we can to support him and his family.”