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Las Vegas shooting eyewitness recounts friend being shot, man dying in his arms

by Scott Stump / / Source: TODAY

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An eyewitness to the deadly mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music festival on Sunday night described staying with a friend who had been shot three times as bullets continued to fly into the crowd.

"It was very chaotic, but my buddy was shot so there was no way I'm gonna leave him,'' Mike Cronk told Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer in a phone interview on TODAY Monday.

"I really wasn't concerned (about the shots). I was concerned about my buddy. I know he wouldn't have left me."

More than 50 people were killed and at least 500 wounded in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history after a lone gunman opened fire on the crowd during a Jason Aldean concert performance. The gunman, identified by law enforcement as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, died from a self-inflicted gunshot.

One of the victims, a young man, died when Cronk was transferring him to a passing ambulance that he flagged down.

Cronk had been with a group of people trying to rush four shooting victims to the hospital in a pick-up truck before they were halted by roads being closed off due to the active shooter. The group was heading back to their original starting point when Cronk shouted down a nearby ambulance to come help the victims.

"I was transferring somebody's son and he passed away there in my arms as we were there on the curbside,'' Cronk said.

"That young man who passed away, somebody's son, passed away right there. He was not by himself. He was always with somebody," he later told Lester Holt.

Cronk's friend, who he did not identify, was in surgery on Monday morning after being shot three times in the upper chest area.

Only hours before the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival, Cronk had posted a picture on Instagram of himself enjoying the concert.

He was with his friend to the right of the stage during Aldean's concert when shots began raining down from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino across the street.

"He was right next to me, and we heard the gunshots go off,'' Cronk said. "I think everybody thought they were fireworks at first. Then my buddy said, 'Hey, I got hit.'''

Cronk witnessed concertgoers climbing a fence and stepping on strangers as they ran in terror. He remained with his friend until the shots stopped and then moved him under the stage and out the back to safety.

"We kept him conscious,'' he said. "As soon as he said he was hit, we got him down on the ground. He actually had his finger in one of the holes.

"We were like, 'Keep your finger in there,' and then we got shirts and stuff to keep it compressed. His finger pretty much never left the bullet hole that was in his chest."

Cronk called the whole situation "a blur" that was "pretty surreal."

"There were many, many people more heroic than I was out there,'' he said. "It was amazing to see all the civilians and police officers."

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