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‘I realized people were dying’: Photographer who captured chaos of Las Vegas massacre describes scene

Published: Wednesday, October 04, 2017 @ 1:54 PM

Las Vegas Shooting: The Story Behind A Heartbreaking Photo

Photographer David Becker had finished shooting the final act of the Route 91 Harvest Festival and was in the media tent, filing his photos, when the first round of popping sounds began. 

“A security guy said it was just firecrackers, so I went back to work,” Becker told Time magazine on Monday.

Little did Becker, who was working the festival for Getty Images, know that he was about to witness firsthand the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Suspected gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire Sunday night from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, which overlooked the festival grounds, and killed at least 59 people and wounded more than 500 more. 

Complete coverage of the deadly Las Vegas concert shooting

“The second time I heard the popping sounds, somebody said to me, ‘It was just speakers or sound equipment,’ and again, I went back into the media tent,” Becker told the Washington Post. “Then the noises went again, and that was when the crowd started to flee.”

People run for cover at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017, after a gunman opened fire from his nearby hotel room. At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 were injured in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.((David Becker/Getty Images))

Even as he grabbed his camera and went outside, Becker had no idea what he was seeing. Still, he began shooting photos of the crowd, some of whom were crying, ducking for cover or talking on cellphones. 

Becker stood on a table and kept taking photos, telling himself it was a speaker popping, he told both Time and the Post. He had no idea at the time that the sporadic sounds he was hearing was gunfire from automatic rifles being fired about 500 yards away.

“It was really hard to get a sense of what was happening,” Becker said, according to the Post. “At this stage, I still just thought it was a speaker popping, so I was trying to capture people’s emotions and a sense of the panic that was around me.”

He witnessed a man shielding a woman with his body. Unable to tell if the woman was injured because the lighting was so poor, Becker watched as she and the man got up and ran away. 

A man shields a woman with his body at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017, after a gunman opened fire from his nearby hotel room. At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 were injured in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.((David Becker/Getty Images))

He saw a man in a wheelchair being helped to an exit. He saw bodies lying on the ground, but could not tell if the people were injured, or just pretending.

“I was trying to capture anything that was moving and that had good lighting,” Becker said. “That was critical. It was so dark, and there was limited lighting.”

Becker said it was only after he went back into the media tent that he learned the reality of what he was seeing. He called a colleague, who told him that police had called a “code red” and set up a perimeter around the festival grounds. 

“It was then I started looking at my photographs, and what I was seeing was just unbelievable,” Becker said. “It had been so dark outside, I couldn’t see the details. I just saw a lot of people laying on the ground, thinking they were playing possum, but now I could see people covered in blood and I thought, ‘This is real.’

People carry a wounded concert patron to safety at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017, after a gunman opened fire from his nearby hotel room. At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 were injured in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.((David Becker/Getty Images))

“When I saw the image of the woman lying on the ground, covered in blood, that was when the impact of what I was experiencing hit. When I realized people were dying.”

Becker kept editing and filing his photographs, working solely by the light of his laptop after officials cut the power to the venue to help hide those cowering in fear. After several minutes of working, police officers arrived and escorted him to his car.

See more photos from Becker and other photographers in the galleries at the bottom of this story. 

The seasoned photographer did not stop working, however. He spent the rest of the night capturing images of law enforcement moving in and those wounded in the shooting helping one another on the streets.

Las Vegas police officers stand guard outside the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on Oct. 1, 2017, after a gunman opened fire from his hotel room in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, pictured in the background. At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 were injured in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.((David Becker/Getty Images))

Becker told the Post it is hard for him to comprehend what he saw that night. He said he continued working by using his instinct to “photograph first and ask questions later,” which he said is “second nature” for a photojournalist. 

“I was on autopilot, just doing my job capturing what was happening, which I think is important,” Becker said. “Impactful images like these tell a story, they move people to think twice about doing anything like this.”

Pastor runs past firefighters to be with woman who fell down 50 foot cliff

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 11:01 PM

A woman in her 70s fell from a 50 foot cliff. (Photo: Fox23.com)
A woman in her 70s fell from a 50 foot cliff. (Photo: Fox23.com)

An older woman is recovering after falling about 50 feet off a cliff in rural Claremore, firefighters said.

A family friend said the woman, who is in her 70s, was dumping out some leaves when she slipped and fell behind her home.

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Multiple agencies spent about 90 minutes rescuing her while a medical helicopter waited nearby.

Firefighters said the woman was alert and talking when she was rescued. She was taken to a Tulsa hospital where she is recovering from bruises, a broken arm and a couple of broken ribs.

Pastor David Mewbourne of Claremore Assembly of God, the woman's pastor of 14 years, said he ran past firefighters and climbed down the cliff to keep her company while they worked on a way to rescue her safely.

Mewbourne said a tree was the only thing that kept her from going into the Verdigris River.


New father accused of selling heroin from maternity ward

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 10:24 PM

Cody Hulse. (Photo: WPXI.com)
Cody Hulse. (Photo: WPXI.com)

A new dad is accused of selling heroin from his family's room in the maternity ward.

Cody Hulse's child was born Thursday and police say a few hours later, Hulse was arrested on accusations he was selling heroin out of the maternity ward. 

Only Channel 11 was there as Hulse faced a judge Friday.

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On his way to jail, Channel 11 asked him what he had to say about the allegations.

"I have an addiction problem," Hulse said. "I do." 

Police say they stopped a car on North Main Street and could see heroin bags in plain sight.

They asked the person where they got the drugs, which led officers to Room 511 of the maternity ward of Excela Health Westmoreland. 

They found Hulse inside his girlfriend's room. 

They say he cooperated and told them he sold heroin to people who visited the room earlier that day.

Inside his pocket, police say they found 34 bags of heroin, needles, rubber bands and a spoon. 

Channel 11 contacted Excela Health about the arrest and whether there's anything the hospital can do to prevent something like this from happening again.

A spokesperson told Channel 11, "We appreciate the efforts of the city of Greensburg Police Department. Excela Health's security team works cooperatively with local and state law enforcement on an ongoing basis to help insure our health care is delivered in a safe environment for patients, visitors and employees."

The baby's mother denied knowing he had heroin in the room, but said she knew Hulse had issues with heroin in the past.

Embracing bodies found in national park died in ‘sympathetic murder-suicide’

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 10:03 PM

Embracing Bodies Identified As Missing Hikers

The bodies of a couple embracing each other discovered at Joshua Tree National Park likely died in a “sympathetic murder-suicide” while they were lost amid the desert’s boiling heat. 

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Rachel Nguyen, 20, and Joseph Orbeso, 22, had been missing for nearly three months after going for a hike in late July. 

Crews spent more than 2,100 hours scouring the rugged terrain before finding their bodies in a canyon Oct. 15.

This combo made from undated photos provided by the National Park Service show Rachel Nguyen, left, and Joseph Orbeso, as they seek the public's help in locating them. The father of Orbeso, a missing California man, says he believes the bodies of his son and his son's girlfriend, Nguyen, have been found in Joshua Tree National Park, Calif., near the area where the couple vanished while hiking nearly three months ago. Officials have not yet confirmed the identities of the bodies discovered Sunday in the desert park. (National Park Service via AP)(AP)

Autopsies found both had gunshot wounds and evidence at the scene led detectives to believe Orbeso shot Nguyen and then himself, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said in a statement Friday.

The bodies were under a tree, with clothing covering their legs to protect them from the sun. They appeared to have been rationing food and had no water.

"We hold no grudges against Joseph or the Orbeso family," Nguyen’s family members said in a statement. "We thank God that we'll be able to give Rachel a proper burial and lay her to rest."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Hippo photo bombs engagement proposal

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 8:42 PM

File photo.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)(Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Fiona, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s beloved baby hippopotamus, helped celebrate the engagement of #TeamFiona fans.

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The couple were in line to snap a picture on their one-year anniversary earlier this month when Nick Kelble surprised Hayley Roll by getting down on one knee and proposing while Fiona photo-bombed the special moment at the zoo’s Hippo Cove.

Kelble, a University of Cincinnati student, and Roll, a recent Bowling Green State University grad and radiology tech at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, have loved Fiona from the start, our media partner WCPO-TV in Cincinnati reported.

“We are huge #TeamFiona fans and have been following her since she was born,” Roll said, WCPO reported. “We’re so happy Fiona could be there on our special day. Here’s to many more years of going to zoos with you,” Roll posted on Instagram.

One zoo staff member cropped the photo and quipped that Fiona thinks she’s the one getting engaged. Another said Fiona would need a much bigger ring for one of her toes.