Las Vegas

'Our Finest Hour': Tales of Heroism Emerge From Vegas Shooting

"It’s been our finest hour as a city," Nevada Lt Gov. Mark Hutchison said at news conference Monday night. "It’s been, I think, among our finest hours as Americans"

Tales of heroism from medical professionals, concertgoers and other members of the Las Vegas community have emerged in the wake of the largest mass shooting in modern American history. 

At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 wounded when Stephen Craig Paddock opened fire in Las Vegas from an elevated hotel room on the Route 91 Harvest Festival, where country music star Jason Aldean was performing for more than 22,000 fans. The 64-year-old gunman killed himself in the hotel room before authorities arrived.

Following the shootings, concertgoers helped treat victims and get them to local hospitals. Later, area residents lined up to give blood as people from far and wide donated money.

"It’s been our finest hour as a city," Nevada Lt Gov. Mark Hutchinson said at news conference Monday night. "It’s been, I think, among our finest hours as Americans."

Here are a few of the heroic tales that emerged in the hours after the shooting. 

Dale Shrode, a 34-year veteran of the Los Angeles fire department, was at the show with his family when the shooting started, he told MSNBC. 

Shrode said his emergency training kicked in, and he and his son began administering first aid, using belts to try to stop people from bleeding.

"My son, he actually collected the belts from people. The best thing we could do for people is stop the bleeding and once we stopped the bleeding we dragged them out of the line of fire. Most people who were shot were still in the line of fire," he said. 

"Some people were not savable and we would move on to the ones that were and get them to a place where they had some cover."

Mike Cronk, a retired teacher from Alaska, used his pickup truck to transport victims from the scene, he told NBC News.

Cronk was standing near the stage when the shots rang out, he said. His friend was shot three times, and Cronk immediately began giving him first aid and loaded him and three other victims into the pickup truck after the shooting stopped. 

“There was so many people who stayed with the wounded. There was a lot of heroes out there," Cronk told NBC News.

Robert Anthony, who was in the parking lot of the Tropicana Las Vegas when the gunfire started, saw similar acts of heroism and "a mob of people pouring out," looking distraught and confused.

"I saw one person in the back of a pickup truck getting CPR. It was a very shocking scene, and it just seemed to go on forever," he said.

Sonny Melton, a registered nurse, died in the shooting, according to The Henry County Medical Center in Paris, Tennessee, where he worked.

His wife, Dr. Heather Melton, an orthopedic surgeon who was with him when shots were fired, survived, the medical center said.

Heather Melton told WZTV in Nashville, Tennessee that her husband "saved my life and lost his." She says her husband was the most kind-hearted, loving man she ever met.

Friend Jeremy Butler told the Paris (Tennessee) Post-Intelligencer that Melton was shielding Heather Melton from gunfire when he was fatally shot.

Medical Professionals
Hutchison said Monday evening that every wounded person transported to a hospital from the scene of the massacre survived. 

"If you were taking into UMC Hospital Center, the trauma center there, and you were alive, you’re still alive at this hour," Hutchinson said.

"The amount of skill and professionalism that was shown by those doctors, by those nurses and by those medial professionals is extraordinary. It’s something we can be very very proud of," Hutchinson said, adding that no victim who arrived alive at Spring Valley Hospital has died.

"This is a day when Americans helped Americans make it through the night, and I say God bless them all," he added.

First Responders
Clark County Fire Chief Greg Cassel said a number of private ambulance companies teamed up with public fire departments to aid the wounded and transport them to area hospitals. 

Cassel said of the private ambulance companies, "They immediately threw critically wounded patients into their ambulances and transported from that scene. They brought all hands on deck. They brought all of their employees. They rallied everything they could from pickup trucks to vans. So I want give a big shoutout to those private ambulance companies that have done a wonderful thing for us."

Cassel added 108 firefighters from four public departments responded to the scene. "I have never seen that many ambulances," he said. 

The Las Vegas Community
The outpouring of support from the greater Las Vegas community and people from around the country who want to provide aid has been so large it's been difficult to organize, the Las Vegas mayor said. 

"The number of people who come and gotten in line to give blood has really become an issue that we are going to learn from. We haven’t been able to keep up with it," Mayor Carolyn Goodman said. 

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak added: “We have been deluged with donations. People bringing sandwiches, bringing water, bringing blankets, it’s almost to the point where we can’t handle anymore donations at the convention center ... We have a six to eight hour wait at all of our [blood] donation stations right now."

Sisolak also said a crowd-sourced donation page that was set up Monday morning has already amassed more than $1 million in donations from people across the globe. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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