Coun­try mu­sic fans en­dure sec­ond mass shooting in barely a year

Tri-City Herald - - Depth - BY KATH­LEEN RONAYNE AND AMANDA LEE MY­ERS

Barely a year af­ter sur­viv­ing a mas­sacre at a coun­try mu­sic fes­ti­val in Las Ve­gas, Bren­dan Kelly found him­self in a ter­ri­fy­ingly fa­mil­iar scene.

Kelly, 22, said he was danc­ing with friends at a bar in sub­ur­ban Los An­ge­les on Wed­nes­day night when the bul­lets be­gan fly­ing. When the gun­fire was over, 12 peo­ple were dead, in­clud­ing a Navy vet­eran who had lived through the dead­li­est mass shooting in mod­ern U.S. his­tory a year ago.

“I al­ready didn’t wish it on any­body to be­gin with for the first time,” Kelly said out­side his home in Thou­sand Oaks. “The sec­ond time around doesn’t get any eas­ier.”

Kelly, a Marine, said he heard “pop, pop” at Border­line Bar and Grill and in­stantly knew it was gun­fire.

“The chills go up your spine. You don’t think it’s real – again,” he said.

The mother of the 27-year-old man killed in the lat­est at­tack, Telemachus “Tel” Or­fanos, said her son sur­vived Ve­gas only to die in­side Border­line, less than 10 min­utes from his home.

“Here are my words: I want gun con­trol,” said Su­san Sch­midt-Or­fanos, her voice shak­ing with grief and rage. “I don’t want prayers. I don’t want thoughts.”

She said she wanted Con­gress “to pass gun con­trol so no one else has a child that doesn’t come home.”

At a vigil Thurs­day night, sur­vivors of both shoot­ings gath­ered to honor those who didn’t make it.

“It’s hard to sleep af­ter th­ese kinds of things,” said Dani Mer­rill, a Border­line reg­u­lar who lived through the Ve­gas shooting. She es­caped the blood­shed Wed­nes­day night by run­ning through the load­ing dock: “I was out in the first two shots.”

Kelly said the Border­line had be­come a safe haven for dozens of Ve­gas sur­vivors. Dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s shooting, he said he threw two of his friends to the floor and cov­ered them with his body. Then he got a look at the shooter and the ter­ror un­fold­ing and de­cided they needed to es­cape.

Kelly said he dragged one woman out a back emer­gency exit and then, us­ing his belt, T-shirt and Marine train­ing, ap­plied a tourni­quet to his friend’s bleed­ing arm.

Af­ter the shooting was over, Kelly said he and an­other Marine friend helped vic­tims along­side first re­spon­ders. Two of his friends were among those killed.

Chan­dler Gunn, 23, told The Los An­ge­les Times that a friend who sur­vived the Ve­gas shooting works at the bar. When Gunn learned about the shooting, he rushed to Border­line.

Gunn said his friend, whose name he didn’t pro­vide, es­caped safely out the back.

“There’s peo­ple that live a whole life­time with­out see­ing this, and then there’s peo­ple that have seen it twice,” he said.

In so­cial me­dia posts, Molly Mauer said she was at Border­line and also sur­vived Ve­gas.

“I can’t be­lieve I’m say­ing this again. I’m alive and home safe,” she said on Face­book.

In Las Ve­gas and Thou­sand Oaks, coun­try mu­sic fans were the vic­tims. Border­line fea­tures coun­try mu­sic, and Wed­nes­day was “col­lege night” that drew many young peo­ple to the bar. The Last Ve­gas shooter tar­geted a crowd of coun­try mu­sic fans gath­ered for the Route 91 Har­vest Fes­ti­val.

Kelly has a large tat­too on his left arm memo­ri­al­iz­ing the Las Ve­gas shooting, which killed 58 peo­ple. On his other arm Thurs­day, he still had his wrist­band from the Cal­i­for­nia bar.

PHILIP CHEUNG For The Wash­ing­ton Post

David An­der­son, 23, is one of sev­eral sur­vivors of both the mass shooting at Border­line Bar & Grill in Thou­sand Oaks, Calif., this week and the 2017 Las Ve­gas shooting at the Route 91 Har­vest mu­sic fes­ti­val.

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