Several off-duty San Diego Police Department officers attending the country music festival in Las Vegas who jumped into action to help victims in a mass shooting say heroes were all around them.
Wearing swim trunks and flip-flops, SDPD Officer Tom McGrath helped a woman shot in the chest, a man shot in the neck and another woman suffering a leg injury.
Officer McGrath shoved cloth into the man's neck wound to stop the bleeding. He used tree branches as a sling for the woman. He then lead the victims to an ambulance.
"I remember holding his hand," he said of the man shot in the neck. "I told him he just needed to fight. He had made it this far. He did everything right. Now is the time to fight."
Officer McGrath said he later learned the man survived.
"Nobody suffered alone. There was a lot of good people out there,” McGrath said as he detailed his experience for San Diego news crews Wednesday. “A lot of people were heroes.”
Officer Max Verduzco assisted an off-duty Orange County law enforcement officer who he said was a true hero because the officer had stayed to help others after the shooting began.
More than 500 people were injured and 58 died in the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Verduzco and McGrath were among the 22,000 concertgoers who ran for their lives when a sniper began shooting from the 32nd floor of the nearby high-rise Mandalay Bay hotel. Investigators have said that gunman was armed with dozens of rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
McGrath was attending the concert with his wife who is a nurse. The couple was 20 to 25 feet from center stage waiting for country music artist Jason Aldean to begin his next song when the off-duty officer heard "round after round."
"You're not expecting what happened to happen," he explained.
The couple helped a young woman who had taken a round of gunfire to the chest. McGrath took off his shirt and was using it to put pressure on the woman's wound when another round of bullets was fired.
"I grabbed my wife," he recalled. "I laid on top of her and tried putting her on top of the other girl.”
He and his wife were separated by the crowd and the confusion.
McGrath found himself on the other side of Las Vegas Boulevard where he encountered a man with a gunshot wound to the neck.
After packing the man's wound with a bloody tank top, McGrath flagged down a truck and asked the driver to get the injured man to the nearest police checkpoint.
As they were loading the injured man into the truck, McGrath said a woman with a leg injury was carried over. The officer made a tourniquet out of a scarf and a branch and put his finger in the woman's blood, and wrote the time on her arm to help doctors who may treat her later in an emergency room.
Officer Verduzco said he used his department training to instruct people near him to hide from the shooter.
“I was just telling people what I’ve been trained to know. Hide behind the engine, the wheel well, places that provide cover, not just concealment,” he said.
He bandaged one woman with a gunshot wound to her leg and encountered an Orange County law enforcement officer he knows only as "Joe" who was shot in the chest.
Verduzco said he saw everyone pitching in to help.
“I was amazed at how many people were stopping and asking if they could help,” he said.
McGrath's wife, Tiffany Michelle, escaped the mass shooting unharmed. She took to Instagram to thank the countless strangers that helped her flee and praised her "hero husband."
"When we were separated and he realized he could no longer protect me he stayed behind to hold pressure on gunshot wounds and carry people to trucks for departure to hospitals," Michelle wrote on Instagram. "He and all the other off-duty officers, military personal, and anyone else in the venue and out who helped save a life tonight are the true heroes."
"If you get the chance today I urge you to thank an officer. I know I will hold mine a lot closer today and forever," Michelle urged.