Even after suffering a life-threatening injury as he fled gunfire during the deadly Las Vegas shooting, a copy machine repairman from Orange County, Calif. made it his mission to help others to safety. And for that he’s being called a hero.
Thirty-year-old Jonathan Smith was shot Sunday, Oct. 1, as he tried to save others after a terrorist opened fire on a crowd of concert-goers at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, The Washington Post reported. A bullet lodged in the left side of Smith’s neck will now serve as a constant reminder of his heroics on the night of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
“I couldn’t feel anything in my neck,” he recalled to the newspaper. “There was a warm sensation in my arm.”
Emergency room doctors working to save Smith’s life decided to leave the bullet in his neck for now, for fear that removing it might cause more damage. He also suffered a fractured collarbone, a cracked rib and a bruised lung.
Smith, who was in Vegas celebrating his brother’s 43rd birthday, had scored seats close to the stage as he and family members enjoyed a prime-time performance by country music star Jason Aldean Sunday night. Things took a turn for the worst, however, when gunshots rang out — and they kept coming.
Smith and his eight family members became separated in the frenzy that followed, as nearly 22,000 music fans ran for their lives. The Washington Post said he was searching for his nieces when he saw several people crouching behind a patrol car, too frightened to move. That’s when he grabbed and led them to a safe parking lot area away from danger.
Realizing a few young girls were still out in the open, Smith stood up and moved toward them to instruct them to get down. That’s when he was shot in the neck, the newspaper reported.
“I might have to live with this bullet for the rest of my life,” he said
Smith eventually reconnected with his family and learned that everyone had made it out safely. The story of his heroic actions that night have since gone viral, a photo of him bandaged at the hospital retweeted more than 103,500 times.
— Heather Long (@byHeatherLong) October 2, 2017
Despite saving 30 lives that night, Smith said he doesn’t consider himself a hero.
“I don’t see myself that way,” he told The Washington Post. “I would want someone to do the same for me. No one deserves to lose a life coming to a country festival.”
In the wake of the shooting that left 59 people dead and more than 500 injured, Smith’s sister-in-law, Tiffany Jones, launched a GoFundMe campaign to help the injured father of three cover his medical expenses. Jones wrote that Smith is currently unable to work and support his family due to his serious injuries.
As of Tuesday, Oct. 3, the page raised over $2,500 of its $7,000 goal.