By Ian Simpson
(Reuters) – A hotel security guard wounded by the Las Vegas gunman who killed 58 people told a U.S. television talk show on Wednesday that he heard drilling before the shooter began spraying a hallway with hundreds of rapid-fire rounds.
Mandalay Bay security guard Jesus Campos, the first person to confront gunman Stephen Paddock, gave “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” his first public account of how he responded to the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Contradictory statements from police and the hotel about what time Campos arrived at Paddock’s room have raised questions about the police response. Campos himself came under increased scrutiny last week after he skipped out on scheduled television interviews.
The guard told DeGeneres he had been called to check on an open stairwell door near Paddock’s suite on the 32nd floor. He found it was blocked by a metal bracket, and he called hotel security to send up a building engineer.
“At that time I heard what I assumed was drilling sounds and I believed that they were in the area working somehow,” said Campos, who was joined for the interview by the engineer, Stephen Schuck.
Campos said he took cover when Paddock began shooting from behind the door.
“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,” he said.
After he was hit, Campos said, he used his cellphone to call the hotel’s security desk in order to keep the emergency radio frequencies clear.
When Schuck arrived on the 32nd floor, Campos “leaned out and he said, ‘Take cover! Take cover!’ and yelled at me,” Schuck said. “Within milliseconds, if he didn’t say that, I would have got hit.”
Police have said that Paddock, a 64-year-old avid gambler, fatally shot himself before they entered the room. He wounded almost 550 people when he opened fire on an outdoor concert from his window, according to authorities, and strafed the hotel hallway with about 200 bullets.
Las Vegas police on Friday presented a third version of the timeline for the shooting that showed they responded immediately to the gunfire, and that Paddock shot Campos at about the same time he opened fire on concertgoers.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; editing by Daniel Wallis and G Crosse)