Taylor Benge, a survivor of the mass shooting on the Las Vegas strip Sunday evening, told CNN that surviving the massacre made him a believer in God.
“I know I can’t speak for everyone but for me, I was an agnostic going into that concert and I’m a firm believer in God now,” Benge said. “Because there’s no way that, you know, all that happened and that I made it and I’m blessed enough to … to still be here alive talking to you today.”
Benge described a scene of utter chaos. “I took cover here, there were still bodies on that side, the people just laying in pools of blood,” the survivor said. “And I still didn’t even know if that was safe or not, but you know, it’s kind of a fight-or-flight situation. You can’t really — you just got to take it to God at that point and, you know, hope that you can make it and hope that you are safe.”
The man’s sense of helplessness made sense, given his memory of the event. “At first we were just watching the concert. I heard about four ‘pop’s. It almost sounded like a firework or one of those things you pull the strings for,” he said.
“But then immediately after that, I noticed that the artist, he ran to the back and then the lights turned on, and a man not even five feet away from me — I don’t want to go into detail, but I don’t think he was with us much longer after that because of a bullet wound to the head,” Benge recalled. “And you know, like the previous guy said, it was just relentless bullets.”
Of the shooter — identified by police as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock — the survivor said, “I think the only reason he took a break is so the muzzle didn’t weld itself shut and so he could keep shooting.”
“It was just — it was really horrible everything that was going on,” he recalled. “We — we started running to the left end because we could hear the shots were coming from Mandalay Bay, or at least in that general direction. No matter where you took cover, there were at least two or three bodies that were part of it and you didn’t know where you were safe.”
Berge said he did not know he was safe “until about an hour or two after the fact.”
His own survival was not the only miracle that might have pushed Berge toward God, however. “But my sister, you know, being as noble as she is, she actually threw herself on top of me and saying, ‘I love you Taylor, I love you.’ And I’ll never forget that,” the survivor said, tears welling in his eyes.
The Vegas shooting was no less than a terrifying tragedy, but God can work in many ways. Americans should come together, offering thoughts, prayers, and whatever physical and monetary assistance the wounded, the survivors, and the families of the lost need.
Benge may not be the only one convinced of the existence of a loving God if believers can unite to serve those impacted by this terrible tragedy.