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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

'He saved my life and lost his' - stories of horror and bravery from Las Vegas

Video of the attack on Sunday night showed panicked crowds fleeing as sustained rapid gunfire ripped through the area

People scramble for shelter at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after gunfire was heard on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
People scramble for shelter at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after gunfire was heard on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Mike McGarry, a financial adviser from the city of Philadelphia, knew what he had to do when he heard hundreds of shots ring out at a Las Vegas country music festival.

"It was crazy — I laid on top of the kids. They're 20. I'm 53. I lived a good life," Mr McGarry said. The back of his shirt bore footmarks, after people ran over him in the panicked crowd.

Mr McGarry survived the attack, but another festivalgoer who tried to protect his family wasn't so lucky.

Heather Gulish Melton said her husband, Sonny Melton, died in Sunday night's attack because he saved her from being shot.

In a statement to the Nashville television station WZTV, Ms Melton said, "he saved my life and lost his."

Jeremy Butler, who said he had been best friends with Sonny Melton since he was three years old, told the Paris (Tennessee) Post Intelligencer newspaper that Melton was shielding his wife from gunfire when he was fatally shot.

The couple got married about a year ago, Mr Butler said.

Video of the attack on Sunday night showed panicked crowds fleeing as sustained rapid gunfire ripped through the area.

"People were just dropping to the ground. It just kept going on," said Steve Smith, a 45-year-old visitor from the city of Phoenix in Arizona.

"Probably 100 shots at a time … It would sound like it was reloading and then it would go again."

"We heard [what] sounded like a glass breaking, so you looked around to see what's going on and then heard a pop, pop, pop," witness Monique Dekerf told CNN.

"You'd think for a moment 'Okay we're fine, there's no more gunfire', then it starts again."

Couples held hands as they ran through the dirt lot, Associated Press reported. Faces were etched with shock and confusion, and people wept and screamed. Some were bloodied, and some were carried out by fellow festivalgoers. Dozens of ambulances took away the wounded, while some people loaded victims into their cars and drove them to the hospital.

One festivalgoer who turned first responder after escaping the attack told Fox News he "probably pronounced 15-20 people" dead.

He likened the attack to a "war scene".

Jocelyn Cal, who said her father was caught up in the attack, described to The National how he came inches from death.

“My dad is a warrior. He was in the heart of the shooting on the closest side to the Mandalay Bay,” she said, referring to the hotel outside of which the Route 91 Harvest Festival was taking place.

“At one point he was sure it was the end and had a bullet what felt like an inch from his face."

"He was screaming at people to get down and was pushing people to crawl with him. Girls next to him were frightened, crying and didn’t want to move," she added.

“He finally got near a fence that thought would help protect him. But [the shooter] took notice and started heavily shooting the area. My dad crawled as far as he could until he couldn’t breathe and got under a car. His arms are torn up."

Ms Cal said her father kept crawling until he felt it was safe to start running.

"He sprinted to the nearest small hotel," said Ms Cal. “He and a group of people locked themselves in a conference room and shielded themselves with a granite table they pushed over. He’s still there and is safe.”

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