In his first interview since being shot by Stephen Paddock at the Mandalay Bay on October 1, security guard Jesus Campos gave Ellen DeGeneres a rundown of the moments the led to his becoming the first of many victims in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
Campos, whose whereabouts had been mysterious in recent days, said he was initially summoned to the 32nd floor of the hotel by a “notification” regarding a stairwell door that had been left open. When he got to the door from inside the stairwell, it was blocked and could not be opened. Campos said he rerouted and approached the stairwell door from the other side, finding a “metal bracket” preventing it from being opened.
Campos called for an engineer to look into the door and began walking down the hallway, passing through a heavy door that slammed shut. That, he believes, is what alerted Paddock to his presence.
“As I was walking down, I heard rapid fire, and at first I took cover,” he said. Campos soon 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,” Campos said. “And I was going to say that I was hit, but I got on over my cell phone just to clear radio traffic so they could coordinate the rest of the call.”
Stephen Schuck, the engineer responding to the call about the stuck door, arrived shortly after via service elevator. When he heard the shots Paddock was firing into the crowd at the country-music festival across from the hotel, he said he initially thought it was a jackhammer.
“That’s when Jesus leaned out and said, ‘Take cover, take cover,’” Schuck said. “Within milliseconds, if he didn’t say that, I would have got hit … They were passing behind my head, and I could feel pressure.”
Campos added that a hotel guest popped into the hallway during these tense moments and he directed her back into the room. DeGeneres hailed the two men as heroes and presented Schuck with gifts.
The sitdown with DeGeneres comes nearly a week after Campos bailed on scheduled interviews with Sean Hannity, NBC, ABC, CBS, and CNN. It’s unclear why Campos skipped out on those interviews, but Las Vegas police say he’s still cooperating with the investigation.
Campos’s version of events has become highly sought after as the official timeline of the shooting has shifted. Police initially said Paddock stopped shooting at the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest festival and turned his gun toward the hotel hallway to shoot Campos. A week after the shooting, the story changed. Campos was shot, police said, before Paddock began firing on the crowd.
The interview on Ellen did little to illuminate the questions still lingering about the moments before the shooting and the police response that followed. And Campos appears to be done talking. “You’re talking about it now and then you’re not going to talk about it again,” DeGeneres said to Campos near the end of the interview. “I don’t blame you, because why relive this over and over?” she said. Campos nodded along.