*Many of us are generally eager to bring home souvenirs from trips we’ve taken. Our walls and tables are lined with commemorative photos and pet rocks, while our closets and drawers are stuffed to the brim with tee-shirts and caps. But a bullet lodged in the left side of his neck, possibly for the rest of his life, and the incident that put it there, is not a memory I believe 30-year-old Jonathan Smith wants to linger on to. Smith was shot at least twice as he ran back and forth attempting to save others from rapid gunfire that reigned down from a 32nd floor suite at the Mandalay Bay hotel.
As news about the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday by a multimillionaire Caucasian gunman — a terrorist by any and all accounts whether he’s being officially called that or not — continues to permeate the airwaves in these un-United States; not only are we slowly learning about the victims, we’re also learning about the heroes who stepped up to help.
One such man is Smith, who had traveled to Vegas from Orange County, California on Thursday to help celebrate the 43rd birthday of the country-music-loving brother, Louis Rust. He, along with his brother, and seven other family members, including kids, went to the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival together. The two brothers were seated right up front, where they had scored seats close enough to the stage to see the beads of sweat forming on the forehead of star performer, Jason Aldean.
But the festive mood of the concert changed when they saw Aldean give a frightened look to his security guards before running off stage. They quickly learned that what they had at first thought were fireworks was massive gunfire.
Although Smith, a copy repairman, was focused on saving his family, he ended up saving strangers by forming a human chain and having people run with him to safety…a row of cars that they could hide behind in the handicapped area.
His young nieces had been lost in the crowd.
“Active shooter, active shooter, let’s go! We have to run,” he instructed to the panicked people around him, according to the Washington Post.
“I ran back towards the shooting and there was one lady that was on the ground,” Smith recalled to ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday. “I basically helped her up and just told her just to run. I basically just told her we got to go.
A few young girls weren’t fully hidden. He stood up and moved toward them to urge them to get on the ground. That’s when a bullet struck him in the neck.
“I couldn’t feel anything in my neck. There was a warm sensation in my arm,” said Smith from the Sunrise Hospital lobby Monday afternoon as he was waiting for his final discharge. He has a fractured collarbone, a cracked rib and a bruised lung. The doctors are leaving the bullet in his neck for now. They worry moving it might cause more damage.
“I might have to live with this bullet for the rest of my life,” Smith said, grimacing from the pain. A large white bandage covers the bullet hole.
Smith believes an off-duty San Diego police officer likely saved his life. The officer came over and tried to stop the bleeding and then flagged down passing cars to try to get Smith a ride. Many just drove by, but a pickup truck stopped and Smith was put in the back of it along with several other wounded victims. By then, he was struggling to breathe.
“I really didn’t want to die,” Smith recalled. The off-duty officer kept telling him he would be okay, just as he had said a few minutes earlier to other concertgoers.
After a photo of Smith went viral, people on social media started calling him a hero.
Fortunately and thankfully, all of Smith’s relatives are safe. But as for being a ‘hero’ he tells the WP, “I don’t see myself that way. I would want someone to do the same for me. No one deserves to lose a life coming to a country festival.”