All Larry Rorick knew about the man who helped save his wife’s life from the Las Vegas mass shooting was that he wore a red hat.
In the days after the deadliest shooting in U.S. history, Rorick and his wife wondered what happened to the man in the red hat. Not hoping for much, he posted a plea on Facebook and included an image of the man that was captured because he stood in the background of a group photo of Rorick’s wife and her friends.
In the Facebook post, Rorick wrote the following:
“[He] got our wives over the gate and under the stage to relative safety. He didn’t follow the girls after tossing them over the gate, because in the chaos he couldn’t find his girlfriend. He didn’t follow them over because he had to find his own girl. Our wives eventually made it out the back of the stage and over a 15 foot fence with about 40 people of the 22,000. They never saw the red hat again.”
Rorick didn’t have much hope for finding the mystery man.
“I put it out there yesterday, just wanting to thank this red hat hero. Everyone laughed, with only 91 [Facebook] friends, that someone would find him,” Rorick told KRQE. “But after 1000 people shared it, you were found.”
A Facebook user pointed Rorick to Anthony Chavez, who he recognized as the man he was looking for.
Chavez and his girlfriend were beside Rorick’s wife and her friends in the front row of the Route 91 Harvest festival country music concert. Jason Aldean was on stage when the first shots rang out.
“Everybody had a delayed reaction. They didn’t know if it was gunfire or fireworks,” Chavez told CBS. “They hit the ground. I couldn’t get down on the floor—there was nowhere for me to go. The gunfire was coming right over my shoulder.”
A girl to his right was shot, looking at the blood on her hands in shock.
“We were laying down, ducking for three rounds,” Rorick’s wife, Danielle Rorick said. “He popped up and was like, ‘No, we need to go.’”
Chavez helped his girlfriend over the fence first and then helped four more women.
“We were all pretty much just sitting ducks,” Chavez said. “If we had sat there it could’ve been a different story.”
Once he got out of the concert area, Chavez helped escort a woman who was too tired to walk to a triage area. Then he returned and helped direct people escaping the concert grounds: the wounded to the triage area and the unharmed to the nearby Hooters Casino Hotel.
“I just thought I was doing the right thing by helping whoever I can next to me,” said Chavez. “I was yelling the whole time. I lost my voice. I sounded like a drill instructor.”
Chavez doesn’t have any formal training for dealing with the kind of emergency that happened in Las Vegas that Sunday. He says it must have been the adrenaline that got him going.
“I wasn’t shaking. I wasn’t scared,” Chavez said. “I don’t know what made me stay and do that.”
Chavez declines the hero label, but Rorick believes that’s exactly what he is.
“When bullets are flying that fast and you make a decision to stop and help someone else out, you’re absolutely a hero,” said Rorick.