October 2, 2017

THE NEW YORK SUN: Aldean’s Army:

An apt metaphor. Their courage under fire will be talked about for years to come — even if we have so far witnessed on the internet only glimpses captured on cell phones. One is of one fan standing up and giving a rude gesture to the machine-gunner attacking the crowd. Others show individuals huddling protectively over injured friends, even while automatic weapon fire is still raining down on what used to be the concert.

These were Americans like Sonny Melton, a nurse from Tennessee quoted in USA Today. When the shooting started, his widow, Heather, a physician, said, “he grabbed me from behind and started running, when I felt him get shot in the back.” It killed him but not before he saved his Heather. One witness told NBC’s Today show that “you saw a lot of ex-military jumping into gear. I saw guys plugging bullet holes with their fingers.”

The witness saw “police officers standing up as targets, just trying to direct people to tell them where to go.” He added: “The amount of bravery I saw, words can’t describe what it was like.” It’s not as if there weren’t glimpses of bravery in earlier mass shootings. Rarely, though, have such attacks been made with fully automatic weapons (which are illegal in all states) and lasted 72 minutes.

That in itself is an astonishing span of terror — aimed at thousands of concert goers peaceably assembled for the most American of pastimes. No doubt in coming days we will start to learn more about the dark side of the story, the killer’s descent into whatever madness came over him. What a contrast to the thousands of ordinary Americans who, when fired upon, sprang to help one another and inspired their countrymen in a time of terror.

Related: Americans Under Fire:

At this hour local and national authorities are attempting to learn why a 64-year-old man named Stephen Paddock killed at least 58 people and wounded more than 500 in what is being called the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. While his motive for the massacre at a country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday night remains a mystery, what’s clear is that amid the carnage and in its aftermath, Americans have been rising to the occasion.

This morning residents of Las Vegas assembled in hours-long lines to donate blood. Videos posted on social media and eyewitness accounts make clear that last night many of the concert attendees sought to help others escape the gunfire. . .

A witness described acts of heroism during the shooting and in the immediate aftermath in an interview with NBC: “It was everywhere. Thank God it was a country concert. You saw a lot of ex-military jumping into gear. I saw guys plugging bullet holes with their fingers. I saw police officers, while everyone else was crouching, police officers standing up as targets, just trying to direct people to tell them where to go. The amount of bravery I saw, words can’t describe what it was like.”

A slew of stories are emerging of people transporting people to hospitals using pickup trucks and personal vehicles. Civilians were offering them up with no reservations.

Look for the helpers. They’re always there. And ordinary Americans can be pretty extraordinary.

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