As bad as it was, the mass shooting in Las Vegas may have been much worse had Iraq War veteran Chris Bethel not been staying at the Mandalay Bay this weekend just two floors below Steve Paddock. According to a local CBS affiliate, Bethel, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, said he could hear Paddock "changing weapons, changing calibers" as he tried to direct police to the 32nd floor of his hotel.
Chris Bethel is back home now, but said that he has not slept or eaten since the shooting. The Army veteran knew the sound of gunfire — and knew that it was close — as soon as the shots started. “It seems like it just never stops,” he recalled. “Seconds are going by, minutes are going by, and the rounds are continuously going.”
“Changing weapons, changing calibers,” Bethel continued. “You can hear the difference in the gunshots of the different rifles that he is shooting.” He desperately tried to call 911, the front desk of the Mandalay Bay and a different hotel across the street, to tell everyone that the shooter was above him. Bethel remembers nobody answering.
Looking out of his window, down at the concert below, Bethel realized that police were responding to the wrong place. “He is not over there, he’s over here,” said Bethel. “I thought he was next door.” That is how loud the gunshots sounded from Bethel’s hotel room.
Bethel, who was in Vegas for an IT conference, has since returned to his home town in Texas but was noticeably shaken in local interviews saying that he was "traumatized" by the event and feels regret that he "couldn't get a hold of somebody fast enough."
The Iraq War veteran, who graduated from Haltom High School, was in Las Vegas for an IT convention. He returned home on Monday, but still has not had a chance to decompress. He just keeps thinking about the victims. “The hardest part about it, for me,” Bethel said, “is feeling like I couldn’t get a hold of somebody fast enough.”
The Army veteran says he wishes he could've done more to help stop the carnage. He turned out the lights in his room, even monitored the hallway, because it felt and sounded like the shooter was even closer.
"You relive the night over, and over, and it tears you up," he said. "I'm traumatized."
"Everyone wanted to get out."
Of course, with an arsenal of weapons in Paddock's room, and police originally responding to the crime scene rather than the shooter's actual position, Bethel could have prevented the biggest mass murder in American history from being even worse than it was.