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Acts of heroism emerge in chaos of Las Vegas shooting

Published: Tuesday, October 03, 2017 @ 3:47 AM
Updated: Tuesday, October 03, 2017 @ 3:44 AM

Rob Ledbetter's battlefield instincts kicked in quickly as bullets rained overhead.

The 42-year-old U.S. Army veteran who served as a sniper in Iraq immediately began tending to the wounded, one of several heroes to emerge from the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Amid the massacre in Las Vegas, which left 59 people dead and more than 500 injured, there were acts of compassion and countless heroics that officials say saved many lives.

There was a man one survivor knows only as Zach who herded people to a safe place. There was a registered nurse from Tennessee who died shielding his wife.

Like many people in the crowd of some 22,000 country music fans Sunday night, Ledbetter heard the pop-pop-popping noise and figured it was fireworks. Then he saw people dropping to the ground. When more booms echoed in the night air, he recognized the sound of automatic weapons fire.

The gunman, identified as Stephen Craig Paddock, a 64-year-old retired accountant from Mesquite, Nevada, created his own sniper's perch inside the 32nd floor room at the Mandalay Bay casino hotel, across from the concert grounds. He appeared to fire unhindered for more than 10 minutes, according to radio traffic, and then killed himself before officers stormed in and found 23 firearms.

"The echo, it sounded like it was coming from everywhere and you didn't know which way to run," said Ledbetter, who was at the concert with seven people including his brother, who was shot and injured, and his wife. They found cover in a VIP area of the concert. Once out of harm's way, he turned to injured strangers.

Thanks to a man who took the flannel shirt off his back, Ledbetter says he put a makeshift tourniquet on a wounded teenage girl, whose face was covered with blood.

"Some random guy, I said, 'I need your shirt,' "said Ledbetter, who is now a mortgage broker and a resident of Las Vegas. "He just gave me the flannel off his back."

Ledbetter said he compressed someone else's shoulder wound, and he fashioned a bandage for a man whose leg was shot through by a bullet.

"There was a guy that looked like he had a through and through on his leg, that we just put a T-shirt around and just did a bandanna tie," said Ledbetter, who was outside University Medical Center on Monday, where his brother was being treated for a gunshot that went through his arm and into his chest. He is expected to survive.

Ledbetter and others grabbed the injured man, carried him out to Las Vegas Boulevard, put him in the back of a utility truck with five to 10 other people that was headed to the hospital.

Ledbetter said he would have helped more people but couldn't clear the barrage of gunfire.

"I'm saving people, or trying to do my best. But it got to the point, I saw people all over, laying where we used to be standing ... just laying there and nobody getting to them and I couldn't get out there. The shots just kept coming in and bouncing. I would have been in harm's way," he said.

He worries that those unfamiliar with battlefields will suffer what they have survived.

"Everybody there is going to have emotional problems. I know that. There was blood everywhere I went: Excalibur, Luxor, on the Strip, on the street," Ledbetter said. "All these people are going to have PTSD. I feel bad for all of them."

Another concertgoer, Anna Kupchyan, credits a man she knows only as Zach for saving her life and about nine others when he herded them into an outdoor trailer serving as a restroom.

Kupchyan, a 27-year-old law student from Los Angeles, said bullets were raining down on the crowd as she and a horde of others began running in search of a way out of the outdoor venue.

The man, Zach, opened a door and ordered people inside and then joined them and shut the door, Kupchyan said.

They stayed inside as the shooting continued, everyone paralyzed in fear, she said.

"Then security came and they shouted for us to get out, to run," she recalled. Outside the trailer, dead bodies were sprawled on the ground, including a man who had been shot in the head, she said.

She and her best friend Leslie Aguilar, a 26-year-old therapist, eventually jumped in a cab that was driving by and befriended two other women survivors who let them stay in their hotel room until the danger subsided.

Not all of Sunday night's heroes survived.

Sonny Melton, a registered nurse, died in the shooting, according to The Henry County Medical Center in Paris, Tennessee, where he worked.

His wife, Dr. Heather Melton, an orthopedic surgeon who was with him when shots were fired, survived.

She told WZTV in Nashville, Tennessee, that her husband "saved my life and lost his." She said her husband was the most kind-hearted, loving man she ever met.

___

Associated Press writers Jocelyn Gecker in San Francisco and Anita Snow in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

Family given house after losing their home in fire

Published: Sunday, December 17, 2017 @ 3:27 AM

File photo.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Scott Barbour/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)(Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

A family whose house burned, during which the father also suffered burns while saving his son and sister from the flames, were gifted a new house Saturday.

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Ronald Warren Williamson III suffered third-degree burns in the November fire, according to WTVG

The family received enough votes through a real estate company contest which gave a house to the winner.

"We're just very fortunate for everybody in the community for the way they've all come together," mother Stacey Kennedy told WTVG. "It's just amazing."

WWE's Vince McMahon to give football another shot, may bring back XFL

Published: Sunday, December 17, 2017 @ 1:26 AM

12 Jul 2000: Vince McMahon talks during the XFL Press Conference at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Tom Hauck  / Allsport via Getty Images)
Tom Hauck/Getty Images
12 Jul 2000: Vince McMahon talks during the XFL Press Conference at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Tom Hauck / Allsport via Getty Images)(Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

Vince McMahon, owner and creative head of World Wrestling Entertainment, is preparing a new professional football league.

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McMahon started the XFL in 2001, splitting ownership with NBC. The league debuted to massive ratings and hype, with commercials promising a harder hitting brand of football and sexier cheerleaders. But the quality of play suffered greatly from the lack of preparation time for players, as well as the lack of big-name players from the NFL or college, and led to the league lasting only one season.

The story was first told by writer Brad Shepard on Twitter. Wrestling writer David Bixenspan later contacted WWE, which confirmed McMahon has established a new corporation called Alpha Entertainment. 

Bixenspan also reported McMahon had reacquired trademarks for the XFL shortly after ESPN aired a documentary on the league earlier in 2017. Whether McMahon’s league would be called the XFL is unknown.

The Washington Post wrote McMahon’s interest in a return to football was fueled by his participation in the ESPN documentary. Despite the league costing NBC and WWE $35 million in 2001, McMahon tried to find another channel for the league after NBC canceled it and only shut the league down after he was unable to find a television deal.

The XFL branded itself as a harder hitting and sexier version of pro football, and the NFL had become less physical. The marketing campaign behind the league’s debut was one of the most hyped in history and included professional wrestlers from the WWE. 

The timing of McMahon opening a new league could be due to the NFL’s ratings struggles and complaints about the league’s style of play after new rules have restricted how players tackle. National Anthem protests by players in the NFL have been controversial. Media outlets have differed on whether the protests have affected ratings. 

Players and owners were also targeted by President Donald Trump while he was campaigning during the Alabama Senate race. Vince McMahon’s wife Linda, a former WWE president, is a member of President Trump’s cabinet and head of the Small Business Administration. 

Bazooka turned in during San Francisco gun buyback 

Published: Sunday, December 17, 2017 @ 12:54 AM

A bazooka was one of the weapons turned in during a gun buyback event Saturday in San Francisco. (Photo: San Francisco Police Department)
A bazooka was one of the weapons turned in during a gun buyback event Saturday in San Francisco. (Photo: San Francisco Police Department)

Police took 271 guns off the street during a gun buyback event Saturday that netted an arsenal including a bazooka, cannon ball and assault rifles.

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“We got everything that you can name that could destroy a whole universe, and we get rid of them within hours," said Rudy Corpuz Jr. with United Playaz, a community group that helped organize the buyback with police.

There were no questions asked. People were given $100 for a handgun and $200 for assault weapons, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

The weapons will be destroyed.

Cruise ship with more than 300 sick passengers returns to Florida port

Published: Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 11:38 PM

File photo.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

A Royal Caribbean cruise ship returned to Port Everglades today after more than 300 people became ill with a stomach virus.

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Cruise officials said there were 332 cases of the gastrointestinal illness, just under 6 percent of the more than 5,000 guests and crew aboard the Independence of the Seas, according to a CNN report.

The cruise left South Florida on Monday, and the illness began to spread by Wednesday, WSVN in Miami reported. Passengers were given over-the-counter medication, and staff quickly cleaned and disinfected the entire ship, a Royal Caribbean spokesperson said.

But passengers reported a not-so-memorable cruise.

"Imagine being in a waiting room and sitting next to five or six people all throwing up at the same time," passenger Cheryl Roberts told WSVN.

Roberts said all of the sick passengers she spoke to had lunch on the ship.

"We all didn’t eat off of the ship, and now we’re all either throwing up or we have horrible diarrhea," she said.

A Royal Caribbean statement said the cruise line is "taking steps like intensive sanitary procedures to minimize the risk of any further issues."