6 Heroes of the Las Vegas Shooting You Need to Know AboutOct 4, 2017
On October 1, when a crazed gunman opened fire on a crowd of people attending a music festival in Las Vegas, he left a horrific new mark on America’s growing list of mass shootings, with 59 dead and over 500 injured.
Rising up out of this grim tragedy though are stories of heroism; everyday people who put themselves in harm’s way to help others, often strangers they didn’t even know.
There’s a quote by Fred Rogers, host of the popular children’s television program Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, in which he talks about when he was a young boy and would be scared by things he saw on the news. Rogers says his mother told him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
The quote rings true in any tragedy and in the case of the Las Vegas shooting, certainly strikes a chord.
Sonny Melton Died Protecting His Wife From the Gunfire as They Fled.
All those who know Sonny Melton in his small Tennessee town of Big Sandy describe him as a caring individual committed to helping others. “It doesn’t surprise me,” confessed Gwen Pettigrew, a local resident whose son played ball with Sonny. “I think he would’ve done it for a complete stranger. It’s just the kind of person he was.”
The registered nurse was in Las Vegas celebrating his one-year wedding anniversary with his wife, Heather Melton, a surgeon whom he assisted in the operating room. When the gunfire erupted, Sonn covered his wife before being struck in the back by a fatal shot.
Melton told The Today Show that she knows Sonny saved her life and that as hard as it is to talk about her grief, she wants to let others know what a kind and selfless person her husband was.
“I wanted the whole world to know how good Sonny was. My son said to me, ‘Mom — Sonny’s an international hero. He was always our hero when this happened.’ So this didn’t just happen that one night. He knows that his mother was saved by Sonny.”
Firefighter Steve Keys Took a Bullet While Performing CPR to Try and Save a Life.
“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,” reads a post on Steve Keys’ Facebook.
The heroic firefighter put his life in danger to try and save another when he was shot while performing CPR on a gunshot victim. As thousands were fleeing the scene, Keys was one of the first responders saving the injured lying on the ground. Keyes was lucky enough to only be grazed by the bullet, and decided to stay behind and help rather than seeking immediate medical treatment.
“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” wrote Keys.
Lindsay Padgett Carted People to the Hospital in her Truck.
Lindsay Padgett, a 29-year-old music fan who was attending the concert with her fiance Mike Jay, sprang into action and used her truck as an ambulance to help the wounded. “We realized there were people everywhere that needed help and on stretchers”, Padgett told ABC News. “People saw that we had a truck, so we said, ‘Fine, yeah,’ and started to pack everyone in.”
Padgett and her fiance loaded the injured in the back with those who were caring for them to evacuate the chaos. Along the way, they spotted an EMT ambulance that helped with some of the most critically injured lying in her truck. Once at the hospital, Padgett said she was prepared to go back and help more victims, but left to check on relatives who were also at the festival.”My cousin was locked inside the MGM and they heard screaming, so we went there to get my cousin and my family,” Padgett said.
Jonathan Smith Saved 30 Lives Before Being Shot.
Jonathan Smith doesn’t work in a field where saving lives is in the job description, but when the gunfire broke out, the 30-year-old copy machine repairman instantly went into hero mode. Smith worked to help usher 30 people into hiding and safety, before being shot himself. Smith spotted a group of young girls who were exposed in the open, and when he moved toward them to help them seek cover, took a bullet just below his neck.
“I couldn’t feel anything in my neck, and there was a warm sensation in my arm,” said Jonathan. Doctors actually fear to remove it because of its location. “I might have to live with this bullet for the rest of my life.”
Smith credits an off-duty cop with saving his own life and helping to stop the bleeding, and said he was reluctant to embrace his new status as a hero. “I would want someone to do the same for me. No one deserves to lose a life coming to a country music festival.”
A Marine Veteran Borrowed a Stranger’s Truck to Transport the Injured.
Taylor Winston knows what it’s like to be thrown into a chaotic situation where life is on the line. The Marine, a veteran of the Iraq War, jumped to his feet while the bullets where whizzing by, and ran over to a truck he saw with the keys in the ignition to get people out of danger.
“Once we were in it, we decided to go help get everyone out of there,” Winston told CNN. “Shots were still firing, we had a couple of friends set up a makeshift hospital on the backside away from the gunfire, and they were pulling people out of the venue. We pulled up to that and they started loading us up with the most critically injured.”
Winston admitted that the entire situation was very scary, but even after making one trip to the hospital, he went back to help others.
“We went back for a second trip and filled it to the brim of essentially bodies, some barely breathing, and had people applying pressure and trying to help them survive to make it to the hospital,” Winston said.
A Father Who Died Before His Son Protecting a Stranger
A family outing between John Phippen and his son Travis was cut tragically short when they scrambled for cover amid the gunfire. John, 56, died after being struck by a bullet while covering a nearby girl.
“He was covering this girl and he got shot,” Travis Phippen told NBC News. “I got over there as fast as I could and put my arm around him and that’s when I got shot.” Travis, a paramedic, worked with an off-duty firefighter to try and save his father’s life.
The younger Phippen is expected to recover and said he wasn’t surprised at his father’s heroism. “He gave his life for somebody he didn’t even know.”