Survivors Of Las Vegas Attack Recall Acts Of Heroism That Saved Countless Lives

LAS VEGAS (CBSNewYork/AP) — While more is being learned about the victims killed in Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, stories are starting to emerge of compassion and countless heroics that officials say saved scores of lives.

At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 others were hurt after police said a gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel onto a crowd of more than 22,000 below at a country music festival Sunday night.

As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, the victims who were killed and wounded were parents and children, husbands and wives. The one thing they all had in common was that they never expected to die attending a country music concert.

Las Vegas Shooting: Latest | Photos | Videos | The Victims

Addison Short was one of the concert goers attending the festival outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. She was shot in the leg and found cover with the help of strangers. During the mayhem, victims were moved in wheelbarrows, office chairs and hotel luggage carts.

“You just kept hearing gunshots and they weren’t stopping,” she said. “Here comes three guys with a maintenance ladder with a guy on it. People were just grabbing whatever they could to help carry bodies.”

On Tuesday night, part of the Vegas Strip went dark to honor the victims. But the heroes who helped were a bit of light out of the darkness.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders singled out a Philadelphia financial planner as a hero during the shooting.

Sanders told reporters Monday that Mike McGarry lay atop younger people at the country music concert targeted by a gunman in a nearby hotel.

McGarry told KYW-TV, CBS3 Philadelphia that he did it because, “I’m 53, they’re in their 20s. I lived a decent life so far, I’d rather them live longer than me.”

McGarry didn’t realize he’d been praised nationally because he was on a flight home when Sanders addressed the media. He says his wife, a registered nurse, was more of a hero than him — putting a tourniquet on one of those wounded.

“We’re just trying to help other people. I don’t think I did anything spectacular,” he said.

Rob Ledbetter’s battlefield instincts kicked in quickly as bullets rained overhead. The 42-year-old U.S. Army veteran who served as a sniper in Iraq immediately began tending to the wounded.

“The echo, it sounded like it was coming from everywhere and you didn’t know which way to run,” said Ledbetter, who was at the concert with seven people including his brother, who was shot and injured, and his wife. They found cover in a VIP area of the concert. Once out of harm’s way, he turned to injured strangers.

Thanks to a man who took the flannel shirt off his back, Ledbetter says he put a makeshift tourniquet on a wounded teenage girl, whose face was covered with blood.

“Some random guy, I said, ‘I need your shirt,’ “said Ledbetter. “He just gave me the flannel off his back.”

Ledbetter said he compressed someone else’s shoulder wound and he fashioned a bandage for a man whose leg was shot through by a bullet.

He and others grabbed the injured man, carried him out to Las Vegas Boulevard, put him in the back of a utility truck with five to 10 other people who was headed to the hospital.

Ledbetter said he would have helped more people but couldn’t clear the barrage of gunfire.

“I’m saving people, or trying to do my best. But it got to the point, I saw people all over, laying where we used to be standing … just laying there and nobody getting to them and I couldn’t get out there. The shots just kept coming in and bouncing. I would have been in harm’s way,” he said.

Marine veteran Taylor Winston, 29, said he saw a field trucks and one had the keys in it. He took it and started driving people to the hospital.

Winston said he probably transported 20 to 30 people.

“There was just too many, and it was overwhelming — how much blood was everywhere,” Winston said.

Another concert goer, Anna Kupchyan, credits a man she knows only as Zach for saving her life and about nine others when he herded them into an outdoor trailer serving as a restroom.

Kupchyan, a 27-year-old law student from Los Angeles, said bullets were raining down on the crowd as she and a horde of others began running in search of a way out of the outdoor venue.

The man, Zach, opened a door and ordered people inside and then joined them and shut the door, Kupchyan said. They stayed inside as the shooting continued, everyone paralyzed in fear, she said.

She and her best friend Leslie Aguilar, a 26-year-old therapist, eventually jumped in a cab that was driving by and befriended two other women survivors who let them stay in their hotel room until the danger subsided.

Robert Hayes, an off-duty Los Angeles fireman, was at the concert with his wife and friends. He ran from victim to victim to perform first aid.

“Honestly because if that was someone in my family, that’s what I would have wanted someone to do for me,” he said.

Not all of Sunday night’s heroes survived.

Sonny Melton, a nurse from Tennessee, died in the shooting while he shielded his wife, Heather, from the bullets raining down on them. Neighbors in their small town are reeling.

“Our whole town is shook, turned upside down, and flipped around,” one woman said. “It’s just going to be rough for us for a couple weeks, months, years.”

Also among the dead is Charleston Hartfield, a Las Vegas cop who coached youth football, and Susan Smith, a wife, mother and office manager at a California elementary school.

Heather Gooze was working the event as a bartender. She held 23-year-old Jordan McIldoon’s hand as he died from a gunshot wound.

“His fingers were kind of wrapped on my hand,” she said. “His hand kind of squeezed a little bit, and then just, like, went loose.”

Gooze added, “I’m connected to him now for my whole life.”

Gooze took his cellphone and broke the news to his girlfriend who got separated in the crowd.

“She said, ‘Be honest with me, like, what’s going on?’ And I said, ‘He didn’t make it. I’ve been with him over an hour now.’ I go, ‘He’s dead,'” Gooze said. “She said to me, ‘You know, he’s the love of my life, like, are you sure?’ I said, ‘Yes, yeah.'”

Gooze stayed with McIldoon’s body for more than four hours.

“I would hope that somebody would do it for me, you know,” she said. “I would hope that they wouldn’t let me be alone.”

A special education teacher from California, Sandy Casey, was also killed as well as Angela Gomez, a cheerleader from California, and Rachael Parker, who worked for the police department in Manhattan Beach, California.

Rob Paterson’s wife Lisa was also gunned down. Their youngest child is just 8 years old.

Meanwhile, those landing back home in New York may be far removed from the Las Vegas Strip, but their minds are still very much on what happened.

Emma Hanne’s friends were at the concert. She still hasn’t heard from them.

“I just hope that everyone gets better and they could find my friends,” she said.

Vincent Ramierz of Edgewater, New Jersey was at another concert on the ground floor of the Mandalay Bay.

“The cops were running around and everyone was screaming. Then we hid under the chairs,” he said.

Benjamin Sweeney was just two floors away from the shooter on the 30th floor.

“Seeing everything when the sun came out this morning, you could see the bodies out there,” he said. “That’s when it really hit me what happened.”

Hospital officials in Las Vegas said that at least 45 people remain in critical condition as of Tuesday morning. Sunrise Hospital has 33 people and University Medical Center has 12 people.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

More From CBS New York

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS
Get Our Morning Briefs
Bloomberg WCBS Tri-State Business Index

Watch & Listen LIVE