One of the heroes of Sunday’s massacre in Las Vegas was reunited on CNN with the off-duty officer who saved his life after he took at least two bullets while rescuing the injured and dying from the scene.
In an often emotional interview, concertgoer Jonathan Smith recounted the aftermath of the horrific attack in which 58 people lost their lives in the mass shooting.
It was his heroism that prevented the death toll from rising even further — Smith is credited with saving at least 30 people from the scene, although he downplays his actions.
“Everyone’s been using that word — ‘hero.’ I’ve been saying it since the whole time I got home — I’m not a hero, I’m far from a hero. I think I just did what anybody would do,” said Smith, who is a father of three from Buena Park, according to the Orange County Register.
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“Was it smart? Probably not. But if someone else (was) in the shoes, and they see me, I would want them to come back and at least help me.”
In the process of saving those lives, Smith took at least two bullets, one in the arm and another in his neck. That one is still in there, doctors reluctant to remove it in case they cause any further damage. The injuries mean Smith is in “constant pain,” he told CNN’s Erin Burnett.
He was dragged to safety by off-duty police officer Tom McGrath, who had to put his own fingers in Smith’s bullet wound to stanch the bleeding.
A GoFundMe page has been started for Smith to pay for his medical expenses. While it initially sought to raise $7,000 for his treatment, by Thursday morning it had far surpassed that original goal, with donations of more than $65,000.
My ‘brother … never left my side’
Saying that he considers the cop his “brother,” Smith explained the debt that he owed to McGrath.
“I owe that man my life because from the moment I got hit, he was the first one to actually help me stop the bleeding,” Smith told Burnett.
He remembers telling McGrath that he didn’t want to die, but the officer had reassured him that he would be OK.
“He never left my side at all.”
After recounting the horrific events that occurred in the moments immediately after Stephen Paddock opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival to Burnett, the host introduced McGrath, who joined the interview by phone.
As Smith wiped tears from his eyes, McGrath said that Smith had exhibited “tremendous bravery.”
“He’s somebody who inspires me. I know he might not want to give himself all the credit, but he definitely did a wonderful job, and I was just happy to be there to help him towards the end, and get him out of there when he was hit.”
The two men had communicated earlier by phone, and had shared the traumatic experiences that they had endured together. But they also recognized the spirit of togetherness that the traumatic event had brought about.
“Through this tragedy I remember, nobody suffered alone. When people were dying there was somebody there who was holding their hands or holding them in their arms, comforting them,” McGrath said.
“When people had injuries, no matter how severe it was, (people were) trying to get them to safety, nobody suffered alone and I think that’s the takeaway from the whole entire situation.”