Las Vegas Shooting: Highlighting the Everyday Heroes

Even in times of chaos and tragedy, lending a helping hand could be the smallest action taken to save a life and make a big difference.

As gunfire rained down from the Mandalay Bay Hotel into the Route 91 Harvest Festival, many country music fans ran for their lives and took cover in whatever way they could possibly find. But it was those who sacrificed survival who earned the title of ‘hero’ throughout the incident.

Many victims came forward with stories of bravery and courage regarding the strangers who saved the day without any hesitation. From nurses who tended to the wounded out in the open field target to valorous drivers who sped through road blocks and traffic to get the injured to medical help, some everyday citizens became the knights in shining armor leading the way for good in times of darkness.

Here are just some of the spontaneous volunteers who chose fight over flight in order to aid those in dire need and used their lionhearted mentality to shed light through evil during the Las Vegas shooting:

Heather Gooze

Serving up a good time for all behind the bar, Heather Gooze signed up to be the bartender at a stand during Jason Aldean’s set at the festival. Gooze made friends with patrons and took pictures before the evil commenced and attendees began to hide behind her area. Aiding as many people as possible, a man by the name of Jordan McIldoon came with life-threatening bullet wounds and asked for Gooze to hold pressure to his head. Staying with him until his final breaths, Gooze knew she couldn’t leave him as an anonymous victim.

Gooze located his I.D. and telephone, and proceeded to answer an incoming phone call from McIldoon’s girlfriend who found safety in lockdown at the Tropicana Hotel. With sadness in her heart, Gooze told the girl that McIldoon passed away before calling his mother and telling her the tragic news as well. But Gooze made the steady promise to stay with McIldoon until authorities found them to make sure he didn’t go as an unknown.

“I wouldn’t leave him or go anywhere until I could make sure that they knew where he was and what was going on,” Gooze said to People. “I’m not a brave or courageous person but something inside of me just wouldn’t let me leave the venue.”

Sonny Melton

Sonny Melton stayed true to his promised vows with his wife until his final hour. After the two danced the night away at the country festival, Melton played the protective husband to his wife, Dr. Heather Gulish Melton, as they fled the scene. Holding her from behind, Melton prompted his spouse to find a way out when he was shot in his back. Once the attack finished, Heather realized her husband had died from his injuries and still cannot believe Melton would put his life on the line for her to show her how much he loved her.

“At this point, I’m in complete disbelief and despair. I don’t know what to say. Sonny was the most kind-hearted, loving man I have ever met. He saved my life and lost his,” she told the WZTV radio station near their local area.

Melton was a 29-year-old registered nurse from Big Sandy, Tennessee, and one of the 59 people killed in Sunday night’s shooting.

Jonathan Smith

Family came first for Jonathan Smith as his first reaction to the gunfire was to protect his loved ones. Looking out specifically for his nieces, he noticed that many of his family members became separated as they fled the area. Rather than running away, Smith spoke up and prompted a group of people to move toward a line of cars near the airport as their protection. It wasn’t until Smith stood up to tell a couple girls to duck down further that he was struck in the neck by a bullet. Thankfully enough, a police officer came to help stop the bleeding and send him in a vehicle to the hospital, where Smith was treated for his wounds.

Shared by thousands of online followers, the photo gained the attention of Chelsea Clinton and others who dubbed Smith as a hero. Although he did all he could, Smith doesn’t consider himself under that honorific title.

“I don’t see myself that way,” he said to 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.”

Mike Cronk

When Mike Cronk saw his friend take three bullets to the chest, he knew he had to act quickly in order to save not only his life, but many others nearby.

“My first thoughts were for my buddy. I wanted to make sure he was taken care of. But, you know, we were pretty much yelling at everybody to stay down. That was what we needed to do,” Cronk told CNN.

With his loud voice and unmatched courage, Cronk’s instructions to get low to the ground allowed for many festivalgoers to remain unharmed during the attack.

Lindsay Padgett and Mike Jay

After finding shelter in a nearby airplane hangar, Lindsay Padgett and Mike Jay made their way to their pickup truck and began their great escape. But rather than use the vehicle for their own getaway, they acted as a hospital transport to get as many injured folks to treatment as they could physically fit in the truckbed.

“I just feel like that’s what you do,” Padgett said to radio station KTNV. “When people need help, you have to take them to the hospital.”

The couple took several wounded individuals to the hospital after dodging curbs and beating out road blocks put in place around the perimeter. Using their own hands to close up the bullet holes on a victim’s body, both Padgett and Jay gave it their all just to save as many innocent people as they could.

These are just a few of the many stories of heroism coming out of Sunday’s tragic events. Fans interested in helping the victims of the shooting, can make a donation to the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund or the Music City Cares Fund through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.