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.

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Toys R Us founder Charles Lazarus dies at 94

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 4:42 PM

Toys ‘R’ Us May Close All U.S. Stores

Charles Lazarus, who founded what would become Toys R Us in 1948, has died, company officials confirmed Thursday. He was 94.

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The news came just days after officials with the toy store chain announced it would be closing its U.S. stores.

“There have been many sad moments for Toys R Us in recent weeks, and none more heartbreaking than today’s news about the passing of our beloved founder, Charles Lazarus,” Toys R Us officials wrote Thursday in a tweet. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Charles’ family and loved ones.”

Michael Goldstein, a friend of Lazarus’ who formerly served as chairman of Toys R Us, told Bloomberg News that Lazarus died Thursday in Manhattan.

"He was the father of the toy business," Goldstein told CNN Money. "He knew the toys and loved the toys and loved the kids who would shop in the stores. His face lit up when he watched kids playing with toys."

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In a 1986 article, The Atlantic magazine credited Lazarus as “the person most responsible for loosening Santa’s grip” on the toy industry, expanding sales from a holiday-only to a year-round business.

Lazarus served as a cryptographer during World War II and took over his family’s bicycle shop in Washington D.C. after he returned to the U.S. in 1923, according to The Atlantic. He started to sell baby furniture, The Atlantic reported, but he noticed that he rarely got return customers because of the sturdiness of his stock.

>> Related: Amazon looking to buy abandoned Toys R Us storefronts

"Toys are a great kind of thing to sell, because they don't last that long," he told the magazine in 1986.

Lazarus served as head of Toys R Us through the company’s sale in 1966 to Interstate Department Stores Inc., and through Interstate’s bankruptcy in 1974, according to Bloomberg.

Toys R Us dominated the toy store business in the 1980s and early '90s, when it was one of the first of the category killers -- big stores that are so totally devoted to one thing and have such impressive selection that they drive smaller competitors out of business. Lazarus, who remained at the helm until 1994, stacked the merchandise high to give shoppers the feeling it had an infinite number of toys.

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He stepped down as chairman of the company in 1998, Bloomberg reported.

Officials with Toys R Us announced last week that the company planned to close or sell its 735 stores nationwide, including its Babies R Us stores. The superstore chain could no longer bear the weight of its heavy debt load and relentless trends that hurt its business, namely competition from the likes of Amazon, discounters like Walmart, and mobile games.

Toys "R" Us - Fast Facts
The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster out; former U.S. ambassador John Bolton in

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 6:37 PM

Who Is H.R. McMaster, Trump’s National Security Adviser

National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster is resigning from the Trump administration and will be replaced by former U.S. ambassador John Bolton, according to a tweet Thursday afternoon from President Donald Trump.

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National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster attends a meeting between President Donald Trump and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office at the White House on March 20, 2018 in Washington, D.C.(Pool/Getty Images)

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Toys R Us closing sales: What you need to know when liquidation begins

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 9:48 AM

Toys ‘R’ Us May Close All U.S. Stores

Shoppers looking for a bargain lined up at Toys R Us stores across the country to cash in on the liquidation sale that was expected to begin Thursday.

However, the sales have been postponed, according to multiple reports.

WYFF reported that a sign on the Greenville location stated that the liquidation sale was postponed until further notice.

The sales are now expected to start Friday, CNN Money reported.

But no matter when the sales start, experts told CNN Money that bargain hunters should be ready to go as soon as the sales begin.

Toys R Us announced last week it was closing or selling all of its stores in the United States, but shoppers need to act fast.

MORE: Toys R Us store locator

Industry experts say shelves will clear out quickly and the sale may only last about 30 days.

Inventory on the most popular toys are already slim, and whatever is left will be the first to go.

People with Toys R Us gift cards and Endless Earnings Gift Cards should use those first.

Toys R Us will not accept them after April 20.

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Starting Thursday, stores will not be accepting coupons or rewards.

If you have a return, Toys R Us will accept items for the next 30 days, but anything purchased during the liquidation sale is final and cannot be returned.

Amazon, one of Toys R Us’ most fierce competitors, is apparently considering buying up some of the empty store fronts once Toys R Us officially closes.

Bloomberg is reporting that Amazon would like to expand its brick-and-mortar presence by acquiring some of those locations.

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The Seattle-based company recently bought Whole Foods and opened its own line of bookstores and convenience stores.

Toys R Us is closing 735 locations, and will lay off about 31,000 employees.

Before you shop, check your location. Some local stores were part of the initial closing announcement and have been liquidating for weeks.

EMERYVILLE, CA - MARCH 15: Customers enter a Toys R Us store on March 15, 2018 in Emeryville, California. Toys R Us filed for liquidation in a U.S. Bankruptcy court and plans to close 735 stores leaving 33,000 workers without employment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

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McMaster out as Trump hires John Bolton as new National Security Adviser

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 2:34 PM

President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he will be replacing his National Security Adviser, General H.R. McMaster, replacing him with former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, in another big shake up on the White House staff.

Making the announcement on Twitter, the President said McMaster had “done an outstanding job,” though there had been reports for months that Mr. Trump was unhappy with the Army General, who is reportedly expected now to retire from the military.

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