Las Vegas Shooting: Let’s Focus on the Heroes, Not the Coward

Reflections: After a week reporting in Las Vegas, I’m physically and emotionally exhausted…but also inspired.

Yes, we observed the worst of humanity this week. But, we also observed MORE of the best of humanity.

Growing memorial at entrance to the Las Vegas Strip.

There’s important reporting underway about the suspect’s motive, the gun control debate, and potential security changes. All of that should be discussed.

But for the purposes of this post, I’d rather focus on the heroes rather than the coward. We’ve met so many selfless people since arriving on on Monday.

It was eery pulling into Las Vegas and observing the uncovered window at the Mandalay Bay. When I looked down at the ground during our first live shot, I noticed a trail of blood left behind from someone fleeing the festival.

Blood stains left where we first reported.

This city is a usually a playground where tourists come to live out their wildest fantasies. Their motto (pre-selfie) was “if it happens in Vegas, it stays in Vegas.”

But, a harsh reality was undeniable in every direction the moment the gunshots started.

I honestly don’t know how I would have reacted if I was at that festival then? Would I freeze? Run away? Try to help others? What would you do?

In the midst of chaos, confusion and panic…so many stepped up to help.

Frank Lechuga of Temecula ran with his family and had nowhere to hide. A stranger in a nearby apartment complex yelled at them to run inside their home. Frank’s family was spared.

Frank Lechuga of Temecula still wearing his Harvest Festival bracelet.

“People talk about division in this country. The amount of people of all race types…we were all one people. Everybody was there to take care of everybody,” Frank told me.

Two men helped to save the life of La Verne’s Katrina Hannah.

Katrina Hannah of La Verne & Matt Cuddihy of Tujunga at the Harvest Festival.

After Katrina was shot, her friend Matt Cuddihy was there.

He utilized his EMT training to place a tourniquet on her and used a dead body to shield her from more gunfire.

The scare turned off on me, on the spot and it was go to work time!,” he said.

He told everyone around him to get down. “Everyone that was running, was dying!

With so many others around him in crisis, Matt had to leave Katrina. He ended up saving 9 others lives.

Meanwhile, a Marine named Austin Cox also was running towards the gunfire.

Austin Cox, a Camp Pendelton based Marine.

He saw Katrina, whom he never met, and knew she was bleeding out.

Cox carried Katrina away from the venue and escorted her to the hospital. At the hospital, Katrina’s mother took a picture of him and called him her “guardian angel.”

Austin Cox after transporting Katrina Hannah to the hospital. Notice her blood still on his arm.

“Any Marine in my situation would do the exact same thing,” he told me via FaceTime from Camp Pendleton. He was already back at work serving our country.

In the midst of that chaos, Jimmy Grovom of Corona immediately began administering aid.

Jimmy Grovum grew up in Mission Viejo. He lives in Corona and works as a paramedic in San Bernardino.

He works as a paramedic in San Bernardino and his expertise helped to save multiple people.

While working on someone’s gunshot wound, Jimmy himself was shot in the leg. He kept working.

“I didn’t stop because it was in the leg and it wasn’t critical,” he told me. “So many other people needed help before me.”

Jimmy escorted to the hospital a complete stranger named Sheldon Mack.

Sheldon never even caught Jimmy’s his name. Days later, they were finally able to reunite. Sheldon’s mother thanked Jimmy for saving her son’s life.

Jimmy Grovum and Sheldon Mack reunite. Jimmy saved Sheldon’s life despite being shot himself.

“Seeing him was one of the happiest times I’ve had in a long time,” said Jimmy.

Everyone we profiled this week was off duty. They weren’t being paid to help or required to risk their own lives.

I thank them for what they did and for being willing to talk with us to help inspire others’ kindness. Its been a treat to work with photographer and editor Brian Miller in crafting their stories.

They’re brave people with natural instincts to serve. They are what makes America great.

In this politically charged time where we focus so much on what divides us, it is heartening to focus on what unites us.

Jimmy Grovom, the paramedic who kept working despite his gunshot wound, perhaps put it best.

Its what humans should do, as human beings, learn to love each other, try to help each other…that’s what I want people to take away.”

I couldn’t agree more.