In the midst of a tragedy is often when we also see the goodness of humanity rise up. The shooting at a country music concert in Las Vegas on Sunday night, which killed at least 59 people and hurt more than 500, is no exception.
Heroes stepped up immediately — from individuals protecting their loved ones to communities coming together in solidarity, many people took action and saved lives in the process.
Here are some of their stories.
‘I Really Didn’t Want To Die’
According to the Washington Post, survivor Jonathan Smith was visiting Las Vegas for his brother’s birthday when the tragedy began. “I really didn’t want to die,” he told the newspaper.
Heather Long, a correspondent at the Post, tweeted that Smith saved around 30 people but was shot in the neck. “He might live [with] the bullet for rest of his life,” she added. More than 190,000 people retweeted the tweet in a matter of hours.
— Heather Long (@byHeatherLong) October 2, 2017
A Father’s Love
Mike McGarry from Philadelphia attended the concert with his two sons. He told Reuters he threw himself on top of his sons, ready to sacrifice his own life if necessary. “It was crazy – I laid on top of the kids. They’re 20. I‘m 53. I lived a good life,” he said. McGarry said he ended up with footprints on his back from people running from the scene.
Volunteers Spend The Day Donating Blood
So many people wanted to help by donating blood that potential donors waited up to eight hours, CNN reported.
“People are hurt. People are in need. I got on my feet. Do what you need to do,” Amanda Long told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Even with so many injuries, the influx of volunteers means there’s enough blood for now.
United Blood Services told the Review-Journal that people in Las Vegas who haven’t donated yet should wait a couple of days, a week or a couple of weeks, to donate in order to keep the supply going.
‘He Saved My Life’
One of the first victims of the attack was identified as Sonny Melton, a nurse from Tennessee. Melton’s wife, Heather, survived, and she says it’s all thanks to her husband. “He saved my life. He grabbed me and started running when I felt him get shot in the back,” Heather told WSMV. “I want everyone to know what a kind-hearted, loving man he was, but at this point, I can barely breathe.”
Wife of Sonny Melton, Heather Gulish Melton: "He saved my life. He grabbed me and started running when I felt him get shot in the back." pic.twitter.com/yfdSFdC4rL
— Forrest Sanders (@WSMV_Forrest) October 2, 2017
Mourning An LVMPD Officer
While most people in Las Vegas were running away from the scene, first responders, police officers and security guards were among those rushing in to help.
A security guard was shot in the leg outside the suspect’s hotel room before police officers “breached the hotel room” and found the suspect dead, likely from a self-inflicted gunshot, according to CNN.
Off-duty police officer and one of the at least 59 victims, Charleston Hartfield, was attending the concert. The Metropolitan Police Department told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a statement, “…our Metro family mourns the loss of an officer and we have employees whose family members have suffered significant injury.”
Country music artists and fans consider themselves to be a tight-knit community. After news of the devastation in Las Vegas broke, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss and Keith Urban joined together for a vigil and song in Nashville.
“It’s the one thing about country music that’s always been at the center of it. It’s about community. And so I did know those people in that way,” Urban said at the event, according to USA Today. Many country artists have shared their support for the victims since the attack.
“I think it might give new or reinforced definition to the phrase ‘Country Strong,’” Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation, told USA Today.
There will undoubtedly be more heroes who emerge from the tragedy in Las Vegas and we will update their stories as we hear of them.