“As I was walking down, I heard rapid fire, and at first I took cover,” Campos said. “I felt a burning sensation. I went to go lift my pant leg up and I saw the blood. That’s when I called it in on my radio that shots have been fired.”
Excerpts from the show were first published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Campos’s remarks didn’t deviate from what police and hotel officials have said publicly about the Oct. 1 attack, which left 58 people dead and more than 500 injured, but did offer a clear narrative about what Campos experienced that night.
The 25-year-old has been the subject of intense intrigue in the weeks since he was revealed as the first person to confront Paddock and report the shooting.
Contradictory statements from police and hotel officials about when he arrived at the gunman’s room raised questions about the speed of the response from law enforcement and stoked conspiracy theories about the attack.
Police had said last week that Campos was shot six minutes before Paddock started firing from the smashed-out windows of his suite. This timeline left unclear whether police had been notified that there was an armed gunman shooting inside the hotel during critical minutes before and during the attack.
MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay Bay, pushed back on this account, and police then amended their timeline, saying there was no six-minute lag after all. Instead, police agreed with MGM and said that Campos was fired “in close proximity” to 10:05 p.m., which is when authorities say Paddock began firing into the crowd. Police said the first law enforcement officers arrived on the Mandalay Bay’s 32nd floor at 10:17 p.m., according to Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo.
Authorities have not been able to determine what, if anything, could have motivated the shooting rampage or driven the 64-year-old gunman to collect an arsenal of firearms and bring them inside his hotel suit. The FBI said investigators had found “no signs of ideology or affiliations to any groups.”
As unanswered questions remained about the shooting, recent attention has focused on the accounts offered by law enforcement officials.
Campos drew more media scrutiny last week when, without explanation, he backed out of scheduled television interviews with Fox News and four other outlets, and also fell out of contact with the Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America union, which was helping him coordinate the appearances. He had posted signs outside his home reading “no trespassing” and “no media on property,” according to the Review-Journal.
Because he was not seen publicly, various news reports referred to him as “missing” and “vanished,” creating an air of mystery around a key witness to the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
In the interview broadcast Wednesday, Campos did not explain why he chose the DeGeneres show to tell his story as opposed to all the other shows vying for the first interview.
Campos appeared nervous as he recounted the sequence of events that led him to Paddock’s room. At one point, when the show cut to a commercial break, DeGeneres handed Campos tissues that he brought to his face.
Campos was joined on the show by Stephen Schuck, a building engineer who was on the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay with him during the shooting. Campos spoke softly, avoided looking at the studio audience, and leaned forward in his seat as Schuck patted him on the back during some of his responses.
Clad in a gray suit and tie, Campos said he was on the 31st floor when he got a radio call to check on a door that had been left ajar near Paddock’s room on the 32nd floor. As he climbed the stairwell, he found that another door had been jammed shut with brackets, he said.
Eventually, he got onto the shooter’s floor using a different route. Schuck was sent to meet him to inspect the problem.
Around that time, Campos heard what he assumed were drilling sounds. As he walked down the hallway, he seemed to catch Paddock’s attention, he said. That’s when the gunfire started — Campos said he believed it was coming from behind Paddock’s door. “I don’t know how he was shooting but he shot out,” he said.
One of Paddock’s bullets hit Campos in the leg. Rather than using his radio to say that he was wounded, he used his cellphone, “just to clear radio traffic so they could coordinate the rest of the call,” he said.
According to Campos, a female guest came out of another room. “I told her to go back inside, it wasn’t safe,” he said.
Schuck, the building engineer, said he had just rounded the corner when he noticed Campos and started to hear the gunfire. At first he thought it was a jackhammer, he said, but knew that crews wouldn’t be working that late at night.
Campos “leaned out and he said, ‘Take cover! Take cover!’ and yelled at me,” Schuck recalled. “Within milliseconds, if he didn’t say that I would have got hit.”
Schuck described how the two of them remained pinned in the hallway as Paddock fired, saying he could “feel the pressure” of bullets flying past his head.
Both men said they were still rattled by the experience. “I’m doing better each day,” Campos said, “just healing mentally and physically.”
He thanked law enforcement officers and other first responders, and the community as a whole, for coming together “to help that night even in the darkest hour.
DeGeneres praised Campos as a “hero” and said he had saved Schuck’s life and the life of the hotel guest.
She noted that the show had hoped to pay the two men, but said they had both refused any financial compensation. Instead, though, she said that the NFL would fly Schuck to see his favorite team, the Indianapolis Colts, and that the online photo service Shutterfly was getting Campos season tickets to see the Oakland Raiders when they relocate to Las Vegas. Shutterfly would also make a $25,000 donation to a victims’ fund in his name, DeGeneres announced.
When DeGeneres suggested that Campos’s appearance on her show would be his only public comment on the attack, Campos nodded in agreement.
“You being shot in the leg saved so many people’s lives,” DeGeneres said. “We just wanted to celebrate you.”
This story has been updated since the interview was broadcast.
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