A father of three is being heralded as a hero after he saved dozens of people during the Las Vegas shooting that took the lives of at least 59 people and injured more than 500.
Jonathan Smith, a 30-year-old copy machine repairman, was visiting the city from Orange County, California, with family for his brother’s birthday. The family spent the weekend at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival, and was standing close to the stage during Jason Aldean’s performance Sunday when a gunman, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, began spraying gunfire into the crowd from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Initially, Smith thought the gunshots were fireworks. But when Aldean ran off stage and the music stopped, Smith told his nine family members to hold hands and run to the exit, he told The Washington Post.
When his three nieces got separated in the crowd, Smith went back toward the stage looking for them. Along the way, he saw some people hiding and others panicking.
“I ran back toward the shooting and there was one lady that was on the ground,” Smith told “Good Morning America.” “I basically helped her up and just told her just to run. I basically just told her, ‘We got to go.’”
He directed some people to follow him away from Las Vegas Boulevard into a field with rows of cars, where they crouched to hide. When he stood to help a few girls who weren’t completely hidden, he was shot in the neck.
“I couldn’t feel anything in my neck. There was a warm sensation in my arm,” he told the Post.
Smith suffered a fractured collarbone, a cracked rib and a bruised lung. The bullet remains in his neck for now to prevent further damage. “I might have to live with this bullet for the rest of my life,” he said.
An off-duty cop from San Diego helped save Smith by trying to stop the bleeding. The officer flagged down the pickup truck that brought Smith and other victims to the hospital.
Smith later connected with his family and found out they all made it out safely.
Social media users began sharing a photo of Smith wearing bandages in the hospital. One tweet, shared by reporter Heather Long, gained more than 115,000 retweets and 286,000 likes as of Monday.
Many people, including Chelsea Clinton, are calling him a hero.
“I don’t deem myself as a hero,” Smith told “Good Morning America.” “I just deem myself as someone who’s trying to do the right thing.”
Smith’s girlfriend’s sister, Tiffany Jones, created a GoFundMe account to cover his medical expenses and living expenses until he can heal and get back to work. In just a day, the fundraiser surpassed its goal of $7,000.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.