Injured at shooting scene, officer stayed to help
Las Vegas police officer Samuel Wittwer knew immediately that he had injured himself.
It happened less than 10 minutes after he arrived at the back of the Route 91 Harvest music festival to help fleeing concertgoers reviewjournal.com/lvshooting
escape the gunfire on Oct. 1, 2017.
“I felt something pop. Oh, yeah, it’s broken,” the 32-year-old officer can be heard saying on recently released body camera footage from the Metropolitan Police Department.
Throughout the night, he talks about his foot and ankle being broken. He later learned that he had broken two bones in his leg.
Wittwer’s actions were briefly
mentioned by Sheriff Joe Lombardo in the aftermath of the mass shooting, but the footage released on Dec. 19 shows the night from his perspective. Wittwer spoke to the Las Vegas Review-journal on Friday in his first media interview about the events of that night.
Slowed by the injury, Wittwer and officer Ashley Lif stay at the scene, although they retreat from the gates of the festival to provide security for an ambulance at a medical staging area nearby.
“With the situation we had, it was the best thing we could have done,” Wittwer said Friday.
Throughout the video, Wittwer is heard telling fellow officers, medics and concertgoers that he is fine and asking them to continue treating shooting victims first.
After about 90 minutes at the scene, Wittwer ends up in the back of an ambulance, heading to a hospital for treatment.
‘I felt something pop’
Wittwer’s body camera starts recording at 10:06 p.m., one minute after the shooting began, as he sits in the passenger seat of a patrol car.
He and Lif had just begun their shift and were heading toward the Mandalay Bay area to look for some robbery suspects. When the shooting call comes in on the radio, Lif whips the car around and begins driving on Tropicana Avenue toward the festival grounds.
“Keep your eye out,” Wittwer warns Lif as they drive closer to the scene. “People are running.”
When they park and exit the car, what sounds like gunshots can be heard overhead, and the pair is almost immediately approached by two men — one of whom has been shot.
The man explains that it’s just a ricochet wound and says he’s an EMT. Lif gives him something to wrap his wound with before they head off to help other fleeing concertgoers.
As Wittwer jogs toward a group of officers, he trips over what appears to be a curb.
He lets out an expletive.
“I popped it. Of course I did,” he mutters to himself.
On Friday, Wittwer said he wasn’t used to running in so much gear. And with all the chaos going on, he wasn’t even looking at the ground.
“I hit the step just right, and it broke my leg,” he said.
The video shows Lif helping him back to the car, and they briefly discuss going to University Medical Center. They instead park near an ambulance setup, which appears to be stationed near the east side of Koval Lane.
With the passenger door of the patrol car propped open, Wittwer helps give directions to concertgoers.
Lif then comes back to him, trying to figure out what to do.
“OK, we’ll stay here,” she says. “You’re useless, not to be blunt. I’ll handle everything out here.”
Sometimes, even now, Wittwer thinks about that. The officer, who has basic EMT training, remembers looking at injured people near him who needed medical attention.
“That was the hardest thing I had to come to: I couldn’t focus on medically helping people because there were so many people who needed help and not enough paramedics,” he said. “I think that’s what sticks with me the most is trying to deal