AUSTIN (KXAN) — Seguin deputy police chief Bruce Ure still has a bracelet from the Route 91 Harvest Festival on his wrist. He says he’ll probably remove it soon, but for now, its a reminder of the 59 people killed and more than 500 people injured when a gunman opened fire at a concert Sunday night. He was there, and he escaped with a graze from a bullet fragment on his hand and memories of the horror.
“I don’t think God has made the word up,” Ure said, trying to describe what happened. “I don’t think the word’s been invented.”
Ure returned from Las Vegas Tuesday night, and spoke with KXAN about how he helped spur people to run from the gunfire and performed first aid on some of the victims.
It was supposed to be a fun experience. Ure had a VIP pass to the country music concert and met some of the stars backstage. He remembered how concert headliner Jason Aldean went on stage around 9:40 p.m. He recalled seeing Josh Abbott leave the tent and go across the street to the Mandalay Bay hotel about 10 minutes before the shooting started, coming from the 32nd floor of that same building.
At first, like many others, he thought the popping noises were fireworks.
“Then I heard a rapid fire — just a succession of machine gun, and that’s when we screamed ‘Gun! Get down!'” Ure said. “It’s like the old western movie when somebody takes a gun and says ‘Dance,’ and they shoot the ground. That’s exactly what it was doing around us — it was just hitting the ground, dirt popping up.”
He and others did what most people are trained to do in a shooting — get down. They didn’t know that the shooter was above them. When a bullet hit the ground near him and a fragment grazed his hand, he knew they had to start moving.
They ran, covering under buses and anything else they could find, then sprinted again during pauses in the gunfire.
“When you’re running like that, everybody’s equal,” Ure said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a big shot on the radio, everybody’s equal.”
At one point he turned on his phone and pressed record, convinced he wasn’t going to make it but that he wanted people to see that “hey, this guy gave it a heck of a shot.”
They found cover, and he called a police captain back in Seguin, Texas. “We’re under fire,” he told him, and asked him to find out any information he could about the shooting and where the shooter might be. “He was my eyes and ears 15 hundred miles away.”
The captain told him what he could find, but at that time the media and police didn’t know where the shooter was. Ure remembered telling the captain that he thought this would be the worst mass shooting in the U.S. Later, he found out he was right.
“It was just hitting the ground, dirt popping up.”
But there were heroes out that night, including Ure.
He and other people dragged a man who had been shot in the leg to safety. Then, he created a tourniquet — something he had just learned at training at the Seguin Police Department. People recognized that he knew what he was doing, and brought two other victims to him.
They flagged down a car and put the three people inside, with Ure along for the ride to hold one man’s tourniquet and put pressure on another woman’s wound.
Ure, a 33-year veteran of the Seguin Police Department, told the driver to speed, to run red lights, to drive the wrong way in the opposite lane. This was an extenuating circumstance. At one point they passed a Las Vegas police officer.
“I said, just go. [The officer will] get over it — he’ll get over it. These people are dying.”
They made it to the hospital seven or eight miles away. Ure was told all three victims in that car would be fine.
A stranger drove him back to a hotel near the strip.
Two days later, Ure flew back to Texas. He says he’s still processing the event, as new details emerge, including the identity of the shooter, Stephen Paddock, and the fact that he killed himself in the hotel room, surrounded by 23 guns.
“Evil people are everywhere, and you can’t get away from them,” Ure said. “You have to try to catch them one at a time — that’s all you can do.”
That’s what Ure plans to do back in Seguin. He says it helps him deal with the evil, knowing there was so much good that night.
“The thing to me that I pull from this is that there was so many heroes — average people put in an extraordinary situation, and man did they respond,” Ure said. “If you were at this concert and you had initiative and human compassion, it was time to step up. And they did.”