Despite reports that he had allegedly gone missing, Mandalay Bay security guard Jesus Campos was alive and well on Wednesday morning (Oct. 18) when he appeared as a guest on the Ellen DeGeneres Show to recount his moment of terror confronting Stephen Paddock in the moments before the deranged shooter opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Festival crowd in Las Vegas.
The appearance came just days after widely circulated reports that Campos — who was shot in the leg by one of the approximately 200 bullets Paddock fired through his hotel room door several minutes before he began his Oct. 1 assault on the 22,000 fans below — had disappeared. “I’m doing better each day, slowly but sure, just healing physically and mentally,” said Campos. The soft-spoken security guard explained that he was called to check on Paddock’s room because of a security notification about the shooter’s door being left open for an extended period.
Coming up from the 31st floor to the 32nd, Campos said he was unable to open the door on the stairwell, which was blocked off, a situation that raised an alarm for him. After walking around a different way, Campos said he approached the room and saw a metal bracket holding the door to the blocked stairwell in place. After calling maintenance to check it out, Campos heard what he thought were “drilling” sounds shortly after, which turned out to be gunshots fired by Paddock.
As Campos walked back down the hallway away from Paddock’s room, he told DeGeneres that he heard the outer door slam, which he said caught Paddock’s attention. “As I was walking down I heard rapid fire and at first I took cover, I felt a burning sensation,” he said. “I went to go lift my pant leg up and I saw the blood. That’s when I called it in on my radio that shots had been fired.”
Campos was going to report that he was hit, but thinking fast, he used his cell phone to do so in order to keep the radio channel free. According to the revised timeline of the shooting, Campos — who was joined and comforted during the interview by Mandalay Bay building engineer Stephen Schuck — was shot in the leg nearly six minutes before Paddock began firing from his hotel room window.
“I saw Jesus and I started to hear shooting. At the time I didn’t know it was shooting, I thought it was a jackhammer,” said Schuck, who knew there was no way engineering would be doing such loud work at night in the hotel. “That’s when Jesus, he leaned out and he said, ‘Take cover! Take cover!’ Yelled at me, and within milliseconds if he didn’t say that I would’ve got hit.” Schuck said he could feel the “pressure” of bullets whizzing past his head as Campos urged a female guest who came out to see what the commotion was to go back into her room. Though injured, Campos said he stayed to help coordinate with police to help them piece together what happened.
Paddock’s rampage killed 58 people and injured more than 500 before the 64 year-old gambler took his own life.
Watch the full interview below: