White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was fighting back tears Monday afternoon while reading an official statement about the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas Sunday night. The stories that she shared of heroism on display at the sold-out Route 91 Harvest country music festival Sunday night are truly heartbreaking.
64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire from a hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, sending hundreds of bullets across the hotel grounds, over the busy boulevard that runs the length of the Las Vegas Strip, and into the packed concert grounds. He killed at least 58 people and injured at least 515, according to CNN.
Amidst the horror, the bloodshed, and the unanswered questions, stories of country music fans shielding each other, and in some cases, sacrificing their own lies rose in a crescendo far more powerful than any string of notes played by the popular artists performing that evening.
Addressing the press gaggle at the White House, Huckabee Sanders spoke matter-of-factly as she related the stories, but soon her voice began to break, shattering her famously serious demeanor.
After praising the efforts of law enforcement to stop the shooter, Huckabee Sanders said, “In the coming days, this attack will directly impact communities all over our country whose residents were visiting the entertainment capital of the world to attend a concert. One man, 29-year-old Sunny Melton, had traveled from Tennessee to Las Vegas for the concert with his wife Heather. When the bullets began raining down from above, Sunny shielded her from danger, selflessly giving up his life to save hers. They’d been married for just over a year.”
“Others risked their own lives to save people they had never met,” she continued. “Mike McGarry of Philadelphia laid on top of students at the concert to protect them from the gunfire. ‘They’re 20, I’m 53,’ he said, ‘and I’ve lived a good life.’”
“Lindsey Pageant and her fiance Mike Jay fled for cover during the attack and immediately returned to the scene with their pickup truck to help transport the wounded to nearby hospitals,” Huckabee Sanders added.
“Gale Davis, who was attending the concert with her husband, said she owes her life to a brave police officer who instinctively served as a human shield, protecting her from harm. Sadly, multiple police officers — both on-duty and off-duty — were among those killed or injured,” she continued.
Huckabee Sanders’ voice began to tremble as she added, “But what these people did for each other says far more about who we are as Americans than the cowardly acts of a killer ever could. The Gospel of John reminds us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend.”
“The memory of those who displayed the ultimate expression of love in the midst of an unimaginable act of hate will never fade,” she said as she struggled to contain her emotions. “Their examples will serve as an eternal reminder that the American spirit cannot and will not ever be broken.”
“In the days ahead, we will grieve as a nation,” Huckabee Sander concluded. “We will honor the memory of those lost as a nation. And we will come together united as one nation, under God, and indivisible.”
Watch the full press conference below:
Please continue to pray for the victims and their families in the difficult days ahead! Meanwhile, Heather Melton, whose husband Sunny was killed, has revealed exactly what happened as he sacrificed his life for hers.