- David Becker / Getty
As bullets rained down on a country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sunday night, people stepped up to protect total strangers and the ones they love.
Tales of heroism have emerged in the aftermath of the Las Vegas mass shooting, which left 59 people dead and more than 500 injured.
Here are some of the inspiring stories.
Jack Beaton died protecting his high-school sweetheart.
Jack and Laurie Beaton attended the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas to celebrate their 23rd wedding anniversary. They sat sipping beers and enjoying the concert on the grass.
Laurie posted to Facebook, “Here’s to 23 wonderful years and looking forward to 23 more.”
Less than an hour later, Laurie felt a bullet fly by her shoulder. Jerry Cook, Laurie’s father, recalled a conversation with her in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
“Jack got on top of Laurie to protect her. He laid on top of her and said, ‘Laurie, I love you.’ She said, ‘I love you, too,’ and boom – he got hit. I don’t know how many times,” Cook said.
Rescue workers ushered Laurie and others members of her group to safety. Jack had already been removed from the scene when she returned looking for his body.
Jack, 54, leaves behind two children, Delaney and Jake.
Marine veteran Taylor Winston stole a truck and drove dozens of people to the hospital.
- Taylor Winston/Facebook
When Stephen Paddock fired on a country music festival, Taylor Winston didn’t run away. The 29-year-old marine veteran knew he had to help.
“People started scattering and screaming and that’s when we knew something real was happening,” Winston told CBS. He described the scene as a “mini war zone.”
Winston, who served two tours in the Iraq War, helped toss people over a fence to get to safety. He then raced to a field of trucks parked nearby. The first one he checked had the keys in it.
He texted his friends who had set up a makeshift hospital far from the gunfire to bring over some victims, he told CNN. They squeezed into the back of the truck and the backseat.
After dropping people off at a hospital, Winston turned around for a second trip. By the end of the night, he and his friends had transported around two-dozen people to the hospital.
Dawn-Marie Gray and Kevin Gray stayed behind to save others.
When Dawn-Marie Gray and her husband, Kevin, won tickets to the Route 91 Harvest festival through a Portland radio station, they could never have known it would be one of the most harrowing events of their lives. The couple took shelter in a VIP area during the shooting.
“When we came out it was horrific,” Dawn-Marie told USA Today. “A field of bodies.”
Dawn-Marie, who worked as a paramedic for about seven years, knew that local paramedics would not be admitted entry until the area was deemed safe. She and her husband turned to the wounded, providing CPR, making tourniquets, and checking for pulses on lifeless bodies.
The couple worked together to load victims into cars en route to the hospital.
“It had nothing to do with being a hero,” Dawn-Marie said. “That’s being a human being.”
Carly Krygier became a human shield to protect her four-year-old daughter.
- Courtesy of Carly Krygier
Carly Krygier heard the words “Get down!” ring out at the festival and sprang into action.
“I put the baby on the ground and got on top of her,” Krygier told CNN. “And when we heard a little break, we ran to the bleachers that were just behind us and I tried to tuck her in close to the end so she was as protected as possible.” She saved her four-year-old daughter Blayke.
They both took refuge in the nearby Tropicana hotel.
“My heart is with all the families tonight who weren’t as lucky as my daughter, my friends, and I,” Carly wrote in a Facebook post in the early hours of Monday morning.
Rob Ledbetter, who served as a sniper in the Iraq War, tended to the wounded.
- Getty/David Becker
Like many concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest festival, Ledbetter heard the sound of popping and figured it was fireworks. When he saw people drop to the ground, his instincts kicked in.
“The echo, it sounded like it was coming from everywhere and you didn’t know which way to run,” Ledbetter, a 42-year-old US Army veteran, told ABC News.
Once he led his brother, who was shot and injured, and his wife to safety in a VIP area of the concert, Ledbetter turned his attention to the wounded. He told ABC News he compressed someone’s shoulder injury, wrapped a leg, and put a makeshift tourniquet on a teenage girl.
“[To] some random guy, I said, ‘I need your shirt,'” Ledbetter recalled, who is now a mortgage broker and a resident of Las Vegas. “He just gave me the flannel off his back.”
Jonathan Smith rushed about 30 people to safety and took a bullet in the neck.
— Heather Long (@byHeatherLong) October 2, 2017
After a gunman opened fire on the crowd, some were too frightened to move. A quick-thinking father, Johnathan Smith, began shouting, “Active shooter, active shooter, let’s go!”
He told all nine members of his extended family at the concert, as well as nearby strangers, to join hands and run. They moved as a human chain toward a handicapped parking area and hid behind several rows of cars, Smith recalled in an interview with The Washington Post.
The 30-year-old copy machine repairmain spotted a few young girls who weren’t fully covered. He stood up to warn them to get down. It was then that a bullet struck him in the neck.
A Washington Post reporter shared a photo of Smith on Twitter, and it has since gone viral.
“I don’t see myself that way [as a hero],” he told The Washington Post. “I would want someone to do the same for me. No one deserves to lose a life coming to a country festival.”