When Shots Ring Out Heroes Show Up
By John Thurman M.Div., M.A., LPPC
This is the second in a three-part series regarding the nefarious acts of violence committed by this savage, predator wolf who caused so much death and destruction in the Las Vegas Shootings. While the twenty-four hour new channels like Fox, CNN, and MSNBC continue their coverage of the act of terrorism, they are beginning to share some of the stories of the heroes of that night. I believe in the days before us we will learn more about these men and women who started out as country music fans gathered for a fantastic evening and ended that day as heroes. While most of these heroes lived, some were shot, and others were killed while trying to protect, treat, and evacuate the wounded.
This is phenomena that I have observed several times, sometimes in person and other times when I am attending the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation’s two-year meetings in Baltimore. One of the most influential segments of this conference are the stories and briefings from first responders who were actually on site helping people at places like the Dallas Police Shootings, the Pulse Nightclub Massacre, the San Bernardino shooting, and the Sandy Hook Shooting.
Here is how these events seem to unfold from my vantage point. A killer, a wolf, seeks to find, kill and injure the innocent, exposed, unaware civilians (sheep) who have gathered for fun, food, fellowship, community, and music. Once the wolf initiates his cowardly, spineless act of terror most of the terrified civilians (sheep) run for their life, which is a healthy, and often the life-saving response. In nearly every similar situation like this, there is always another group that responds. These people are not armed or trained in the profession of arms, but when trouble occurs, they do not run, or if they do, they do not move very far. Instead, they move toward the exposed, injured, and helpless citizens in an attempt to get them to safety.
LTC David Grossman is a mentor and acquaintance who graciously endorsed by the first book Get a Grip on Depression uses the analogy of a sheepdog. I will give you a very minimalist version of his metaphor with a link to his works.
He states there are three types of people. There is the wolf, who can be an individual or group whose mission is to kill civilians, the second type (sheep) and keep them living in fear. Now, this is not a negative term, but one more based on behavior. Then there is a third group, the sheepdogs. The sheepdog, remember this is a metaphor, he or she loves the sheep, they protect the sheep, will die for the sheep, and they do not mind taking on the wolf. This is the role of law enforcement and the military. Grossman says that the sheepdogs are societies protectors, primarily law enforcement and members of the military, for a more in-depth description check out the link in the next paragraph.
I like the way that Brett & Kate McKay described this in their article, Are You a Sheepdog? Part 1, which is on the Art of Manliness website.
Here is a brief excerpt.
“Most people are sheep. Grossman is not using the term pejoratively; he is simply referring to the fact that most human beings are kind, gentle, and peaceful. The conflicts and ethical dilemmas they are regularly faced with rarely rise to the level of life and death, good versus evil. For the most part, people deal with challenges that are more annoyances than true crises. Moreover, when faced with conflict, they try to do the right thing, avoid making waves, and demonstrate the pro-social behavior.”
There is a second type of sheepdog, who loves being a part of his or her sheep family and sometimes knowingly or unknowingly they are also a sheepdog.
So what do sheepdogs like this do when trouble rears its ugly head? Rather than run away from danger, something deep and mysterious kicks in, they run towards it. The best example of that night was the number of law enforcement officers you saw with weapons drawn, looking to engage the wolf. However, there was another group of sheepdogs that night. Though they were unarmed, they exposed themselves to danger while seeking to help protect the distressed, treat the wounded, comfort the dying, and evacuate the injured. Here are a few examples.
Anthony Chavez, from my adopted hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico was attending the event with several of his friends. As the shots rang out, Anthony, initially identified as the “hero in the red hat” began pushing people into areas that were protected from the gunfire.
Dean McAuley initially helped his friends to safety and returned to the killing field. McAuley, who is also a firefighter from the Northwest ran by the medical tent, grabbed a pair of gloves and helped bring two injured women to the treatment tent then assisted 17-year-old Natalia Baca, by putting a tourniquet on and helping start an IV in her arm. The next morning, he volunteered at one of the hospitals to further assist those that were injured.
Heather Melton spoke of how her husband Sonny, “Grabbed me and started running until I felt him get shot in the back. Sonny died while trying to shield his wife.
Jonathon Smith reportedly lead over 30 people to safety until he was shot in the leg.
Rob Ledbetter, an Army veteran who had served as a sniper in Iraq immediately began using his Combat Lifesaver skills to treat the wounded around him.
These are, just a few of the heroic stories that we will hear over the next several days.
As horrible as this week has been, I know something unique about a free society like ours. The first is, even though, in many ways we live in a post-Christian culture, some of the profound truths of our faith show up in bad times like these.
A portion of some of Jesus’s words to his followers is a Scripture that I have both heard and used as an Army Chaplain at memorials for Medal of Honor winners, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 NLT Now while Jesus is talking about his ministry, I believe this snippet of verse was very much alive the night of the Las Vegas Massacre.
God wired we humans to be incredibly resilient. Though we have to take devastating hits on our society from 911 through other acts of terrorism, we as a country continue to bounce back. We care for the physically and emotionally injured, we care for the survivors of those lost, and honor the dead, and we move forward as a nation.
My article on Monday will visit the topic of resilience and will give you practical, faith-friendly tool you can use to become more resilient.
Call to Action
I want to leave you with a question, that you will probably not be able to answer, and that is ok. What would you have done had you been in the crowd that Sunday Night?
A Second Call to Action
READ this powerful and insightful article from WebMD, it could save your life! Enroll in First Aid Course. Hopefully, you will never need to use what you learned, but if you live an active lifestyle, have kids, or elderly parents, the First Aid Basic Course might be a great skill set to add to your life.
I would love to get your thoughts so feel free to make a comment.
(c) 2017 John Thurman. All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit Dave Becker
John is a Counselor, Author, Speaker and Photographer that helps people "Get a Grip on Life."