Off-duty Calif. firefighter injured in Las Vegas shooting

No details were released about the unidentified firefighter's injury, except that it was minor

By Lyndsay Winkley
The San Diego Union-Tribune

LAS VEGAS — An off-duty San Diego firefighter was one of hundreds injured in a mass shooting that claimed the lives of at least 58 people at a Las Vegas country music festival Sunday night, a fire official confirmed.

No details were released about the firefighter’s injury, except that it was minor.

San Diego Fire & Rescue Department spokeswoman Mónica Muñoz said seven off-duty firefighters were in Las Vegas when the shooting occurred, but she did not specify whether they were all at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.

“(The department) sends our condolences and prayers to all those affected by this horrific and tragic shooting,” said fire Chief Brian Fennessy in a statement.

A number of officers, deputies and firefighters from the San Diego region were at the festival when a gunman identified as Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay Hotel.

San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said Monday afternoon that 16 off-duty San Diego officers who were at the concert were unharmed and accounted for. Some of the them helped give victims first aid and waive down vehicles, she said.

“Here they’re just out having a great time on their days off, and they heard gunshots,” Zimmerman said. “We’re now hearing stories of how they transitioned from concert-goer back to first responder. We heard stories about how some of our officers rendered aid and helped with tourniquets and did everything they could to save lives last night."

One San Diego officer — Tom McGrath — described the mayhem that erupted to a television station in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Like many in the crowd, McGrath didn’t didn’t initially realize the pop-pop-pop he was hearing was gunfire. Then he heard screaming.

When he and his wife turned around, they saw a female who apparently took a bullet to the chest fall to the ground, McGrath said. The couple was trying to help the victim when a second barrage of gunfire began.

"The three things I know are 'run, fight, hide,’” he told the station. “I can't fight because I don’t have a gun on me so the best thing I could do was run or hide because we were out in the open."

He shielded his wife’s body and when there was another lull in the shooting, they dove behind a sound booth that was positioned nearby. The couple got separated soon after, and McGrath left the venue alone.

Soon after entering a nearby parking lot he found two victims, a man who had been shot int he neck and a woman who had been shot in the knee.

After tying a tourniquet around the woman’s leg, he found someone with a truck and took the victims to a police command post a couple miles away where paramedics were waiting.

Soon after arriving, though, the man who had been shot in the neck died, McGrath said.

Despite the chaos, the officer said he saw many people doing their best to help each other.

"I think you saw the best in people in terms of trying to do what they can whether it made the difference or it didn't,” he said.

Two off-duty sheriff’s deputies were also at the concert, and were uninjured.

Copyright 2017 The San Diego Union-Tribune

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