Off-duty officer springs to action during Las Vegas attack

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (WBAY) -- Officer Kelly Jones, of the UW-Green Bay Police Department, had a trip planned to Las Vegas for months, but never expected to use his police and military background during the vacation.

“Never once did any of us think that, you know, we had to use any skills that we've learned in our career to potentially save our lives and the people around us,” Officer Jones says.

But three days into the Route 91 Harvest Musical Festival, disaster struck.

“I just happened to be looking at Mandalay Bay at the time, and from, now we know it was the 32nd story, there were muzzle flashes, that I've known from my training experience. I did a lot of night fire in the military,” says Jones, who also served as a Technical Sargent for the 148th Fighter Wing, Security Forces. “You could see the flashes that corresponded with the sounds. And that's when I knew that we were in trouble.”

A 15-year background in the military and law enforcement kicked in after shots first rang out, but Jones quickly realized he wasn’t as prepared as usual.

“Being at work, I'm prepared for that. You know, you have all the tools and all the equipment,” he says. “But there, on the civilian side, you're just out in an open area with nothing.”

Jones quickly developed a plan, working to guide his group back to the safety of their hotel room.

“I knew there was an emergency exit,” Jones remembers, saying he first guided the group to a makeshift bar within the concert venue.

“We moved to the back of the bar, and there we probably met eight or nine other people who didn't know what was going on,” he remembers.

Jones brought the new faces in on the plan, instructing them only to move when they couldn’t hear gunshots. After that, Jones guided the group beyond a brick security wall, and a half mile back to their hotel room.

“To see it happening in front of you, and witnessing and putting the pieces together very quickly, maybe it was an instinct. Maybe it was the training I had. Maybe it was a little bit of both,” Jones says. “But it was something that I knew that I needed to do something.”

Jones says if you’re ever faced with a similar emergency situation, the best thing to know is know your exits ahead of time, and come up with an escape plan.

“At least have a plan if something happens. If I'm at an event, or if I'm doing this, or I'm doing that,” he says. “At least just take a minute to look around, and say, "Okay, here are the exits.”

Looking back on the attack one week later, Jones says there’s only one way to see things now.

“You can choose to be a victim, or you can choose to be a survivor,” he says. “And I think it's important that everybody that was there in this incident, sees themselves as a survivor.”

On Sunday October 1, 2017, 58 people were killed and hundreds more injured, when Stephen Paddock opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas.

Paddock was shooting from across the street, in the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

On Monday, Paddock’s brother arrived in Las Vegas to recover his body and help police in their investigation.