Surgeon from Tacoma ran into harm’s way to save wounded in Vegas shooting

TACOMA, Wash. — Retired Army surgeon Jim Sebesta of Tacoma was at the concert in Las Vegas last Sunday night when a gunman opened fire into the crowd from high above in a room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

At first, Sebesta said, he, like a lot of people there thought the sound was from fireworks. But when he saw a muzzle flash from the shooter’s hotel room, he knew what was happening.

He, his wife and some friends hunkered down until the shooting stopped.

Sebesta told them to get to safety. Then he ran into harm's way to help the wounded.

"There was no way that I could not go down and help them," he said of the wounded.

He describes making trip after trip into the line of fire to help get the injured out. And he recalls having to tell people that the victims they were trying to save had already died.

The gunman, 64-year-old retired accountant Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nev., shot and killed 58 people at the concert and injured hundreds from his perch on the 32nd floor before taking his own life as police were about to break into his hotel room.

Even though Sebesta had been in combat, he said this was different.

"I've been shot at, I've been rocketed, I've done all that. This was way different. For me, war is war and whether you believe in it or not, there was a reason there. This has affected me a lot more, because it took me a long time to believe someone was even doing this."

Investigators in Las Vegas have yet to determine Paddock's motive for the mass shooting -- the deadliest in U.S. history.

Sebesta said that since the shooting, some days have been harder for him  than others, but he's taking it one day at a time.