An eyewitness to the deadly mass shooting at a Las Vegas music concert said police officers and veterans immediately jumped into action to help victims amid the chaos after a gunman opened fire into the audience.
“You saw a lot of ex-military just jump into gear. I saw guys plugging bullet holes with their fingers,” Russell Bleck told TODAY on Monday.
“While everyone else was crouching, police officers (were) standing up at targets, just trying to direct people, tell them where to go. The amount of bravery I saw there, words can’t describe what it was like.”
Bleck was in a VIP tent at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival with his fiancée Sunday night when they heard what they thought were firecrackers or a crackling amplifier.
He said he quickly realized what was happening after the sounds didn’t stop.
“That was an automatic rifle, without a doubt. He was just spraying the crowd. He was relentless. There was no stopping,” he said. “You had five, maybe eight seconds to move from cover to cover to try to move and get out of there as he reloaded.”
Authorities say at least 50 people have died and more than 400 people were injured in what is now being considered the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
Authorities said the suspect, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, of Mesquite, Nevada, was on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino when he opened fire on the crowd watching country star Jason Aldean perform. There were more than 22,000 people at the concert.
Paddock killed himself before officers reached him, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said during a Monday morning news conference.
Bleck said he saw people "dropping left and right" as gunfire ricocheted around him. He couldn't tell what direction the shots were coming from.
“There was just no telling. And then it would echo throughout the area, so nobody knew where to go,” he said. “And then all of a sudden people would run away from a safe area, but you didn’t know if it was safe. It was just absolute chaos and carnage.”
Bleck said 10-foot walls boxed concertgoers inside the concert arena.
He eventually escaped after taking cover and running beneath some bleachers.
“We waited until he reloaded and then moved, just trying to get out of there. There was only one way in and one way out. And the gunman had that bottlenecked,” he said, explaining they eventually found an opening where all the food trucks had come in through a police check point.
He said even hours later, after looking at news footage, “it’s hard to process what just happened.”