SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A San Diego man shot during the Las Vegas mass shooting said after the bullet hit him, while bullets were still flying, he thought he was going to die, convinced there were multiple shooters and they were closing in.
George Sanchez, 54, of 4S Ranch took his girlfriend Johanna Ernst to the Route 91 Harvest country music festival as a birthday present.
While country singer Jason Aldean was on-stage performing Sunday about 10 p.m., Sanchez thought he heard fireworks.
“And then screaming started and people started moving, and I’m still in denial thinking this has got to be fireworks,” Sanchez said.
“So, we ducked down, and the masses of people just started flowing through. Just volley after volley of bullets, but I didn’t know it was bullets until I felt something hit my arm,” Sanchez said.
He was shot in the arm and bleeding badly, he said.
“I thought I was done there because there was so much… it felt like 30 shooters, 30 people with automatic weapons," Sanchez said. "That’s the way it sounded like, and when I looked over, I just see a sea of people either diving or some being hit. I said these shooters are wiping everyone out."
“I remember peace coming over me. Just a peaceful think, you know what, I’m 54 years old. I had a great life. It’s ok,” Sanchez said. “So, I turned to [Ernst] and I was about to tell her her just tell my mom, my daughter, you know that I love them. But I stopped right when I had that thought. That’s just going to bring her down. There’s a chance she could get away."
Sanchez said they alternated running when the shooting stopped and hit the ground when it started again. He said they did this several times. Then, he lost sight of Ernst.
“So, I turned around I started going back, but the volley of bullets hit more people in front of me. I can hear the thumping of the bullets. I can see people falling more,” Sanchez said.
He tried to go back several times, but the shooting did not stop, he said.
“But, I remember stopping and turning and it’s like, where is she, and I didn’t know if she was hit or had gotten clear,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez saw an ambulance. The driver was nowhere in sight.
“It looked like a few people had commandeered the ambulance and were using anything in there that could help people,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez got in the back of the ambulance. A man saw Sanchez was shot.
“He said we got to put a tourniquet on, and he couldn’t find anything, so he just got a ribbon of something and tied it tight and that seemed to stop the blood.
And then they brought a girl, who had either two shots or through and through, I don’t know, and a paramedic asked me can I help and put pressure on her side, and I was trying to hold pressure on her wound, trying to stop her bleeding,” Sanchez said.
About 20 or 30 minutes pass. Sanchez looks outside the ambulance.
“There were lots of bodies, people hurting because everybody just started getting there,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez was worried about his girlfriend. He had no idea where she was or if she was even alive.
“I would try to call but the phone kept slipping because all of the blood on my hands so I couldn’t dial her number,” Sanchez said.
Then, he got a text from Ernst. She was safe.
“The most beautiful text in the world,” Sanchez said.
George went to the hospital. A doctor said the bullet was still in his arm and it hit the bone, but the bone was intact, Sanchez said.
“I’m thinking it was a ricochet off the fence because I’m thinking if I had taken a direct hit it would have destroyed my arm,” he said.
Sanchez said what happened to him is nothing compared to how many other fared. He tried to think about the acts of selflessness he saw that night: people tending to the injured, people driving wounded strangers to the hospital, people carrying the wounded out while the bullets were still flying.
“You see this in movies. You hear about these beautiful heroes. I saw it. I saw it. Thought this bloody, horrible thing I saw some beauty and it makes me feel good,” Sanchez said.
He hopes people don’t alter their plans after the shooting.
“People have got to live their lives. My friends have asked me, ‘George, we have other things planned for Las Vegas, you want to cancel?’ And I’ve said, ‘Quite, on the contrary, I would like more people to join us,’” Sanchez said.
Sanchez is still wearing the purple wristband given to concert-goers. He can’t bring himself to take it off.
“Those brave people, the heroes, the heroes that just helped pull them out," Sanchez said. "That’s why I’m going to keep it on."