ANAHEIM — At their game against the New York Islanders on Wednesday night at Honda Center, the Ducks recognized 20 Orange County residents who were either injured at the Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting in Las Vegas or first responders to the tragic event.
Many from Southern California were among the 58 murdered and 489 injured by a lone gunman in a Mandalay Bay hotel room who took aim at a large crowd attending the outdoor country music festival.
An announced crowd of 14,553 gave a standing ovation to those sitting in a Ducks-provided suite during a timeout in the second period. Buena Park resident Jonathan Smith was one of those recognized as he attended his first Ducks home game.
“I’ve been a fan since they were the Mighty Ducks,” Smith said. “Growing up it was hard for my parents. But it would never stop me. I’ve always been a Ducks fan. It doesn’t matter. Even if the Kings are right down the road. The Ducks are my team. This is my team.”
Smith, 30, attended the festival with other family members when the shots rang out while country music star Jason Aldean was performing. A father of three, Smith went into the terrified crowd and did what he could to usher people to safety.
Asked why he did that instead of a natural instinct to run and find a protective space, Smith said, “Honestly, I don’t know. I really don’t know.
“I feel like once I got my nieces and them to safety across the way – I really don’t know what made me decide to let them go,” Smith continued. “It could have been all the screams that I heard. Other people that I saw were pinned down. I really don’t know.
“I kind of feel like if I was in that same situation, I would have wanted someone to come back for me as well.”
Credited with saving 30 lives, Smith was hit twice by bullets. One hit his left arm and it has him wearing a sling. The other hit near his neck and doctors have been hesitant to remove it, not wanting to risk further damage.