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Country

Eric Church Honors Las Vegas Shooting Victims with Empty Seats and a Tearful Tribute: 'Those Were My People'

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Eric Church burst into tears on Wednesday as he recalled performing at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas just days before the devastating mass shooting that left 58 people dead and nearly 500 injured.

Church, 40, performed at the Grand Ole Opry, where he opened up about the shooting to fans before singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

“This past Friday, I played the Harvest music festival in Vegas … 48 hours later, those places that I stood, it was carnage,” Church told the crowd. “Those were my people. Those were my fans.”

Mike Coppola/Getty

He later added: “Every person that was there, let me tell you something, I saw that crowd. I saw them with their hands in the air. I saw them with boots in the air. And what I saw, that moment in time that was frozen, there’s no amount of bullets that could take [it] away.”

The moving comments come just days after 64-year-old Stephen Paddock fired down onto a crowd of more than 22,000 people just after 10 p.m. on Sunday from his 32nd-floor hotel room at the nearby Mandalay Bay casino. According to authorities, the gunfire continued off and on for about nine to 11 minutes.

Heather (left) and Sonny Melton
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Paddock was found dead in his room of a self-inflicted gunshot wound before midnight, as law enforcement closed in.

Church on Wednesday mentioned two victims specifically: Tennessee residents Heather and Sonny Melton. Sonny died while saving Heather’s life.

Las Vegas Shooting Victim Saved Wife’s Life Before He Was Killed

“I didn’t want to be here tonight. I didn’t want to play guitar … But last night somebody sent me a video of a lady named Heather Melton and she was talking to Anderson Cooper on CNN,” the singer said.

“She goes, ‘We went there to see Eric Church because he was Sonny’s … it was his guy. We went there to see his guy. Then she said, ‘We have tickets for the Grand Ole Opry tomorrow night.'”

Church noted that there were two empty seats at the venue to honor the couple. “The reason I’m here tonight is because of Heather and Sonny.”