In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, stories of heroism and strangers helping strangers are emerging one after another. One such hero is most likely to live with a bullet lodged in the left side of his neck for his whole life, as a reminder of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
A father of three, Jonathan Smith, 30, and his extended family of nine were at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas to celebrate his 43-year-old brother’s birthday when suddenly bullets started raining down on the crowd. The first thing that came to Smith’s mind was his family’s safety.
It took Smith a while to realize what was happening before telling his family to hold hands and run; he was worried about his three nieces, aged 22, 18, and 17, who were separated in the stampede. So he then turned back to the crowd to look for them and began helping other concert-goers during the massacre.
Recalling the situation, Smith, who works as a copy machine repairman, said, “I got a few people out of there. You could hear the shots. It sounded like it was coming from all over Las Vegas Boulevard,” reports The Washington Post.
When he saw a few girls were not fully hidden, he stood up there to shield them and was hit in the neck by a bullet. “I couldn’t feel anything in my neck. There was a warm sensation in my arm,” he said.
The doctors had told him the bullet would be left in his neck for fear that an operation could cause more damage. “I might have to live with this bullet for the rest of my life,” he said.
“I really didn’t want to die,” he said, recalling that an off-duty police officer might have saved his life by trying to stop the bleeding and flagging down a truck for him and others who are injured to be sent to the hospital.
When Smith’s story went viral on Twitter, many hailed him as a hero, but he thinks otherwise.
“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,” he said.
On Oct. 2, Smith’s sister-in-law, Tiffany Jones, set up a GoFundMe page to help cover his medical expenses; so far, $46,741 has been raised.
Smith’s brave actions saved 30 people who were total strangers to him! What an irony, where one stranger opened fire at his fellow beings—killing 59, injuring over 500, and traumatizing thousands—another risked his life to save as many as he could.