It’s been a week since 58 people were murdered in my community. They were shot like fish in a barrel in Las Vegas at the Route 91 Harvest festival…killed by someone who was consumed by evil and who had prepared well in advance to take as many lives as possible.
I still can’t wrap my head around the horror and the darkness of the events last Sunday.
Las Vegas is my community. My wife Deborah and I have lived here for 17 years. I’ve driven by the Mandalay Bay Resort a thousand times, always imagining the great dining, the gaming and the fun being had by guests from all over the world. But that’s not what will fill my thoughts the next time I travel past it. I’ll be thinking about the victims: the fun-loving crowd of country music fans who went to sing, dance and clap to the talents of their favorite artists, but in the end, were witnesses to a mass execution.
To process this nightmare, I’ve read and watched dozens of news reports on the shooting, the deceased and the 489 wounded survivors. I’ve seen the USA Today article that profiles the 58 victims: a group of beautiful, active, human beings. The story is heartbreaking. The only thing that makes sense to me is the heroism shown by so many individuals in life-threatening circumstances.
There’s a line in scripture that reads, “Let light shine out of the darkness…” In the horror of those events, there are countless stories of love and bravery that I hope can provide some comfort to those who are trying to heal from the loss and the trauma of October 1st. Here’s a short list of some of the selfless heroes in that Route 91 Harvest festival audience:
- A US Army veteran (and sniper in Iraq) who immediately began treating victims with makeshift bandages and tourniquets.
- An off-duty nurse who ran back into the festival area to attend to those who suffered gunshot wounds.
- A man who used his belt as a tourniquet for an 18-year-old girl, then carried her to safety before putting her in a cab to a local hospital.
- A man who refused to leave behind his friend who had taken three bullets to the chest.
- A marine veteran who found a truck with the keys in it, prioritized the wounded, and began transporting shooting victims to a local hospital. He made two trips before ambulances began arriving on the scene.
- A former paramedic who provided CPR, applied tourniquets and pressure to wounds. She and her husband loaded victims into cars for transport to emergency help.
- A young man who was shot in the neck while warning a group of girls to get down to avoid being shot. A national news source reported the man destroyed a security gate and “formed a human chain” to lead a group to safety.
- A man celebrating his 23rd wedding anniversary shielded his wife’s body with his own to protect her. He was mortally wounded but was able to tell his wife he loved her before he died.
Finally, as reported by KABC-TV in Las Vegas, Jimmy Grovom, a trained paramedic, went into action when the shooting started. When a woman standing next to his brother Matt was hit, Jimmy tended to the victim and then quickly moved on to help someone else. Jimmy was then shot in the leg, but he continued to assist his patient as he yelled at Matt to “get my girlfriend out of here.”
Later in the hospital with Jimmy having been treated for his leg wound, brother Matt reflected on his brother’s actions, and those of many other off-duty first responders, medical professionals, and country music fans who braved gunfire to help their fellow man.
“For every one scumbag out there, there’s hundreds of people willing to do whatever they can,” he said.
Amen to that, Matt.