Greg Speer, Justin Brunning and Mike Streavel are three men from Orange County who attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on October 2, 2017 and survived the shooting that killed 58 people.
All three neglected their own safety during the ensuing melee to help others. Festival headliner Jason Aldean was performing in the open-air venue under the glitter of the Las Vegas strip, directly across from the Luxor Hotel and Casino when the gunman began firing from his 32nd-floor hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Speer, his wife and daughter were 25 feet from the stage when the shooting began. Chaos promptly broke out among the 22,000 concertgoers.
“At first it sounded like firecrackers,” said Speer, a former Huntington Beach Sts. Simon & Jude parishioner and Ocean View High School grad. “I thought maybe some kids driving on Las Vegas Boulevard had set off firecrackers. We quickly realized we were getting shot at as people around us hit the ground.”
Speer, 52, a sales and marketing director for a medical clinic in Riverside, remained calm as bedlam erupted. Then he felt a burning sensation in his lower back.
“I remember saying ‘I’m hit, but I’m okay’,” he added. “I told my wife ‘I love you’ and was asking the Lord to get me out of this. We were running on adrenalin and I kept saying the ‘Our Father.’”
Despite his injuries, Speer miraculously had the presence of mind to help others who were injured.
Speer’s wife, Tammy, a registered nurse, and his 22-year old daughter Brittany, an EMT, immediately started to provide treatment to Speer.
“There was panic everywhere, people running, crying and in shock,” Speer added.
Ironically, it wasn’t Brittany Speer’s first encounter with a deadly shooting. In June 2016, Speer was a first responder to the UCLA campus murder-suicide shooting that killed two people.
Speer was taken to St. Rose Dominican Hospital and received 10 stitches to close a 2-inch gash in his lower back. Doctors believe a ricocheted bullet struck him. His wife and daughter were not injured.
“I’ve been given a second lease on life and it definitely has changed my life,” said Speer who returned to work after missing just one day. “I am encouraged that there is hope in the world. I was amazed to see people helping out others in a time of need.”
2011 Servite High alum Justin Brunning, 24, was standing about 50 yards from the stage when the shooting began.
“I couldn’t really hear the shots at first because I was standing near a speaker,” said Brunning. “But then I saw two ladies about 40 feet in front of me get shot and go down, then I realized what was happening.”
Brunning, a former EMT, reacted quickly to assist others.
“My core values kicked and I didn’t focus on the shooting and panic around me,” Brunning added. “I started doing what I could to triage people, cover them and direct others through the panic.
“I’ve taken away a positive outlook from this incident. I am prideful to see the ways others helped total strangers, risking their lives and neglecting their personal safety to assist people who were injured.”
Mike Streavel, 28, a 2007 Servite graduate and Cal State Fullerton alum was in attendance with friends. As the shooting began, Streavel and his friend Jacob McCann of Placentia had moved to within 50 feet of the stage.
“I initially thought the sounds were fireworks or distortion from the speakers,” he said. “But as they continued, Jacob turned towards me and said, ‘I think I broke my arm.’ My friend fell to the ground and he was screaming from the pain and I jumped on him to shield him. It seemed like the shooting went on for 15 or 20 minutes. It was like a war zone. We were worried about being trampled, that was the scariest thing. When the firing would stop, we would jump up and run. It was then we saw blood and determined that Jacob has been shot near the armpit.
“I knew I couldn’t leave Jacob. We’re like brothers. I’d risk whatever, even if it kills me.
“I was able to get Jacob to a medical tent where he received treatment and taken to the hospital where he went into surgery. He was released a few days later and is doing better.
“It’s definitely is a life-changing event and it gives you a different perspective on life. The little things in life are important to me now. I live each moment like it’s my last and I pray every day for the 58 people who didn’t make it.
“To see the first responders, cops, firemen and others being focused in the moment in the face of danger was the greatest act I ever saw.”