When news of the Las Vegas shooting broke, nothing conveyed the carnage and the chaos more powerfully than Getty photographer David Becker’s photos of that night. Six months later, he chose three images that resonate most with him and described in his own words their significance. “As horrific as my pictures may be, they serve a purpose,” says Becker. “They make people think, and if they can be used as a tool to help prevent a tragedy like this from happening again, then so be it.”
"There is actually a positive ending..."
As disturbing as this photo may be, there is actually a positive ending. About a month after the shooting, I received an email from a woman who wanted to let me know that she was in one of my photos. She explained that she and her friend, the women in this picture, had survived. The woman who wrote is in the middle of the three people lying on the ground. Her friend had been shot in the leg and could not move. The woman would not leave her, so she lay down next to her injured friend. Then the man in the photo arrived -- a stranger -- and lay down too. They waited until there was a pause in the gunfire, and, with the help of the man, all three escaped. The woman who was shot returned home shortly after that night. The woman who wrote me explained that seeing the photo was helpful in her recovery. That alone made this photograph especially meaningful for me.
“He was a stranger to the woman he protected”
Of all the photographs from that night, this image is the most significant to me because it depicts a true hero. A young man selflessly risked his life by placing his body over the woman to shield her from gunfire and covering her eyes to spare her from seeing the bloodshed around her. It was one of many heroic actions that night. Concertgoers tended to the hurt, carried the wounded to safety and shuttled them to hospitals. Days later, the man in this picture was revealed to be a U.S. Army soldier named Matthew Cobos. He was a stranger to the woman he protected, making his act all the more heroic.
"Stay together and we'll be safe"
This image represents the best of what people can offer each other in crises. The tall man is encouraging the young girls to run; pushing them to keep going until they’re safe and free of danger. The posture of the two girls holding hands, the forward motion with the flowing hair all says to me, “Stay together and we’ll be safe.” There was a lot of running that night with people crying and panicking. People supporting each other can make it through and survive horrendous acts.
As told to Adrienne Gaffney.