As victims of the horrific mass shooting continue to come forward to tell their version of events following the horrific tragedy in Las Vegas, Nevada, the first responders and heroes are now also telling their side of the story. After working 18.5 hours straight to protect every last soul he could, a Las Vegas cop has described what he saw Sunday night, revealing what really happened at Mandalay Bay from his perspective.
As shots rang out at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on the Las Vegas strip on Sunday night, officers rushed to the scene. J Van Dyke, a Las Vegas police officer, was one of the first responders to the massacre after he got the call on his radio while enjoying what was supposed to be his dinner. Following his mentally and physically exhausting shift, Dyke took to Facebook to share his perspective on the situation, explaining to us what we couldn’t see.
“The first 7 hours went pretty much like every other shift goes. Then while I’m sitting there eating my much-anticipated Chipotle on my lunch break, radio broadcast… active shooter at the Mandalay Bay Hotel,” he began. “For the next 11 hours, we all experienced a number of things. Stress and anxiety were among the most common emotions,” he continued.
“Listening to the radio while we were headed towards the Mandalay Bay, listening to the stress in my partners’ voices, listening to them shouting about how many victims they saw, the fact that shots were still being fired. The chaos of not knowing where the shots were coming from, or who was shooting them. The fact that it was a fully automatic weapon, machine-gun style,” Dyke recalled. “Whoever this was, he outguns us. Hearing gunshots on the radio while my partners were asking for help, knowing you are still miles away, is nothing that any cop wants to ever experience.”
What he explains next, he hopes will answer some of the questions that victims have about the responding officers. Law enforcement personnel were yelling at concertgoers to get them out safely, but some people took the orders too harshly. “The citizens and tourists we all swore to protect, running for their lives, hoping that we could give them a miracle. And of course the frustration we get when people question you… ‘Why do I have to leave?’ ‘But my hotel is that way.’ ‘Why are you yelling at me to put my hands up? That’s not very nice.’ ‘Why are you pointing rifles at me? That’s scary,'” he wrote.
“The herding dogs get frustrated with the sheep who don’t want to listen. That’s why the Sheepdog has to bite the sheep, growl at the sheep, essentially scare the sheep into submission, for their own good. Because some just don’t know how to save themselves. Some don’t know or understand the magnitude of what is unfolding,” he explained. “Now the most deadly active shooter incident in modern American history, and I try to save your life and rush you to safety, and the Sheepdogs, herding the sheep to safety, are criticized for their ‘aggression.’ But all those negatives are forgotten when you find a crying, terrified family sheltered in place inside a bathroom stall. When you get to guide a horrified mother and her crying child to safety.”
In hopes of educating people on why cops acted the way they did, he ends his story by taking the high road. He never talked down to victims or those who criticized him; he’s only trying to put them in his shoes, sharing what he and his men are trained to do during a tragic time such as this one. He ends with, “The sheep don’t always want the sheepdog around because he reminds them there is evil in the world. But, still, the sheepdog is willing to fight in defense of the sheep, and at a moment’s notice, he is willing to lay down his own life for the sheep he loves. It is simply who he is.”
When the Love What Matters Facebook page shared his story, it instantly started to go viral, and for all the right reasons. One Facebook users commented, “As the night progressed and the horror truly unfolding all I could think of was how lucky we are that Las Vegas has trained year after year on how to respond to this type of situation,” while another said, “Dying for someone who hates you is nothing but A True Hero…thank you for looking after all of us….you are appreciated..to all policemen.”
Hopefully, Officer Dyke’s story helps to change some perspectives, providing insight on why law enforcement acts the way they do. Americans should be forever grateful to the first responders and heroes who risk their lives to protect their fellow people, working tireless hours to make sure no one is left behind, running into danger while others run away from it each time tragedy strikes. If you agree with Officer Dyke, share this story to help raise awareness and stop the criticisms of men and women who had more important things to do Sunday night than worry about their tone or upsetting someone with words as they attempted to save their life.