A Springfield native was hit by shrapnel and tried to save the life of a woman near him after she was struck by gunfire during the largest mass shooting in U.S. history at a country concert in Las Vegas.
Todd Riley, 47, a 1988 Kenton Ridge High School graduate who now lives in Thornton, Colo., attended the three-day festival with his fiancee and two other couples last weekend, he told the Springfield News-Sun on Tuesday.
“I’m sore, emotionally and physically,” Riley said.
The shooting Sunday left 59 people dead and 500 people injured after authorities said Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd from his hotel room window.
Riley said he witnessed heroism like he’s never seen before from doctors, nurses, EMTs, law enforcement and others.
“They were the real heroes,” he said. “They put their lives out there and it didn’t matter what was coming at them, be it bullets at the concert or the bodies and all of the carnage at the hospital. They just stepped up and said, ‘Bring it, let’s go, we’re here.’”
Riley was in line to get drinks for his group when the bullets began raining down from the Mandalay Bay hotel, which was visible from where the group of friends were sitting. The area was also directly under two sound towers, he said.
“Nobody could hear anything other than the music,” Riley said. “All of a sudden, we heard, ‘Pop, pop, pop.’ Then there was a brief pause and it was automatic fire.”
He thought the sound was coming from the street and began looking for his fiancee, who was about 25 yards away. He then realized where the bullets were coming from.
“We saw people standing around us and we just started yelling at them to get down,” Riley said.
As he ran, he felt a burning sensation in his leg but didn’t think anything of it at the time, he said. He was still yelling for his fiancee when a woman fell down about 10 yards in front of him.
“At this point, (the gunman’s) just spraying the crowd,” Riley said.
Riley and another man found shelter for the woman in a merchandise area, he said. They attempted to perform CPR and stop the bleeding but discovered she had been hit in the upper chest.
Then a young man in a staff shirt with a wheelbarrow ran back into the gunfire to help any critically injured person he could find get to help, Riley said. That was just one act of courage he saw during the shooting.
“To me, that’s a hero,” Riley said.
Riley then got the woman in the wheelbarrow and pushed her over to the first responders.
“Everybody in a badge that night — EMTs, police, sheriffs — they were going right at, putting themselves between us (and the shooter),” Riley said.
Medics began treating the woman on the wheelbarrow, he said. Then Riley collapsed from his injuries.
“All of a sudden, there’s a guy trying to put a tourniquet on my leg,” Riley said. “I’m like, ‘What are you doing?’ He’s like, you’ve been shot and I looked down and I had blood running down my leg.”
Riley had been struck by shrapnel that had hit the asphalt near where he was standing, he said. He was struck in the calf, knee, thigh and belly.
A lady in a red pickup truck then drove Riley and several other people to a nearby hospital. The nurses there calmly helped as many people as quickly as they could, he said.
“Those are the real heroes right there,” Riley said.
After he checked in with his fiancee and friends, Riley told the doctor he didn’t need to wait at the hospital while other people were critically wounded, he said. As he left, he passed the woman he performed CPR but it appeared she didn’t survive.
He’s now back in Colorado, where he works as a school administrator and sought medical treatment for his injuries on Tuesday. His fiancee and their friends all survived.
“God watched over all of us with angels that night,” Riley said.
The concert saw a diverse crowd and the message from the artists was about togetherness, he said.
“We were there having a great time with people from all walks of life and you’ve got some coward trying to make a statement,” Riley said. “There’s too much good in this world for us to focus on the 2 percent. There’s way too much and I saw a lot of it that night.”
His mother, Rita Riley, still lives in Springfield. The shooting will weigh on him for a while, she said.
“He just basically says no one will ever know the nightmare of what these people went through and what they witnessed,” Rita Riley said. “You don’t think to experience that at a concert.”