Bruce Ure lay on the ground and watched bits of AstroTurf bounce around him. It reminded him of the style a rainstorm rolls in, with big splats ricocheting off the ground — except these were bullets.
A few minutes earlier, the deputy police chief of Seguin, Texas, had been relaxing in the hospitality tent of the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. His friend J.R. Schumann worked for the concert’s sponsor, Sirius XM, and treated Ure to the opportunity of a lifetime: three days of hanging out in the exclusive, artists-only section beside the festival’s main stage , not far from the glittery-gold Mandalay Bay Hotel.
As Jason Aldean took the stage around 9:30 p.m ., the friends chatted about what they would do for the rest of the evening. Then Ure heard the first pops. “What a jerk, ” he said. “Someone is setting off fireworks.” Schumann said he didn’t think they were fireworks, but Ure, confident that his 40 years in law enforcement entail he could identify gunshots, thought the audio was too high-pitched.
Then came a burst that left no doubt about what they were hearing. “Gun! Get down! ” Ure hollered, throwing himself to the ground. He heard a shot land close to his head and felt a sharp pain in his right hand. When he saw the inch-long gash, he figured he’d struck by shrapnel. He wondered why shots kept coming closer and realise the shooter was somewhere above them. At that phase, his develop kicked in; he yelled to the people around him to use the tour bus as a shield, to tuck down behind the tires.
He noticed there were two kinds of gunshots: a series of crisp staccato, then a switch to something more muffled. He decided the group should make a run for the exit during the course of its next round of muffled shots. He subsequently learned that was when the gunman switched windows, firing away from the artists’ tent and directly into the crowd. The moment he heard the switch, he bolted.
As Ure neared the exit, he saw a young man lie on the ground, bleeding heavily. Ure thought he was dead, until he saw the man’s face. He picked him up and, with the help of an ex-Marine, carried the man out of the venue. Ure got a clear look at the man’s thigh, which was gushing blood, once they put him down. It looked like he’d been hit in the femoral artery, the thick boat that carries blood to the lower part of the body. Unless they stopped the bleeding, the young man would die within minutes from blood loss.
It was a rare day that Ure wasn’t wearing a belt. But the injured man, a 27 -year-old Canadian named Zach Belitsky, had one on — not a big Western-style belt like many of the concertgoers, but a sleek leather belt about one-inch broad. A perfect tourniquet for the thigh, Ure thought.