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Crime

Heroes of Las Vegas: Inspiring Stories of Concertgoers Saving Lives and Protecting Strangers – ‘There Is Still Humanity’

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Amid the tragedy, there was heroism.

On Sunday night, an unseen gunman unleashed gunfire into an outdoor Las Vegas concert crowd from his hotel-room 32 floors above, killing at least 58 people and wounding another 527. It was the deadliest mass shooting in United States history.

“I will never forget the sound of that gunfire,” Nashville, Tennessee, publicist Karen Gale, 44, tells PEOPLE for this week’s cover story in the wake of the nation’s deadliest single-gunman mass shooting in modern history. “There were lost shoes all over the ground, women being carried by boyfriends.”

“If anything, I learned there is still humanity in this world,” she says. “I saw it.”

Here some accounts of heroism from the night of terror:

Brad Sugars, 46, business coach from Las Vegas:

“I stayed with the police and handed out first-aid kits… People were helping people. A girl was wrapping a guy’s thumb and another person was bandaging a wounded leg. Everyone was trying to help — off-duty cops, SWAT (teams). I saw police running towards the bodies. God bless them.”

Heather Gooze, 43, bartender, Los Vegas:

Gooze was working at a bar toward which people ran to escape the bullets, when three men carried victim Jordan McIldon over on a ladder.

“His phone was locked but Facebook messages kept coming in, so I went on Facebook and found him, sent messages to everyone who had the same last name. After we found his family, I promised them we wouldn’t leave him. I was with him when he took his last breath.”

• For more on the Las Vegas shooting and the stories of bravery that emerged from it, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday.

“Something inside me wouldn’t let me leave. Everyone who survived was basically just an inch or a foot away from being someone who died.”

Lindsay Padgett, 29, entertainer, Las Vegas:

After the gunfire, Padgett and her friends ran to a nearby airport hangar where they hid until they thought it was safe to leave.

“We didn’t hear gunshots for a little bit, so we were like, ‘All right, let’s go.’ We got to my truck and we just see all these people all over the road and this guy says, ‘We need your truck,’ and I said, ‘Put them all in.’”

“There were four people in my back seat and four more [who were] shot [lying] in the bed of the truck. People had fingers in their wounds.”

First Responder Dean, 31, Las Vegas:

Dean arrived on the scene to find the injured and dying tagged according to their injuries — from green (minor) to yellow (non-life-threatening) to red (life-threatening).

“We had to take the red-tagged patients first, but it’s not always easy. There was a man tagged in yellow who said, ‘I have a new baby. Please save me.’”

“You have to understand that yellow tags can become red really fast. They’re all losing blood, they’re in pain and going into shock. We were just trying to save as many lives as we could.”

“The night was endless. When it was over, I just hugged my partner and cried.”

• Reporting by KC BAKER, JOHNNY DODD, CHRIS HARRIS, STEVE HELLING, DIANE HERBST, JD HEYMAN, MEGAN JOHNSON, CAITLIN KEATING, LINDSAY KIMBLE, CHRISTINE PELISEK, MELINDA SHECKELLS, HARRIET SOKMENSUER and JULIETTE VARA