Allen Park — When Lions safety Miles Killebrew woke up on Monday morning, his phone was flooded with text messages from his friends back home.
Killebrew, who grew up less than 20 miles from Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada, initially was puzzled.
That’s until he read the crippling news about the Las Vegas strip massacre, where a gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of a hotel into a crowd of over 22,000 at an outdoor country music festival Sunday night. According to authorities, at least 58 people were killed and 515 were injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
“It was heartbreaking. I had texts asking me if my family was OK and I didn’t know what they were talking about,” Killebrew said. “My heart was broken. Immediately that’s when I started reaching out to people I knew back home. That’s when I got the news of things that were happening and I was able to see online what was going on. It’s senseless.”
Killebrew said everyone in his family is fine. His parents were at Detroit’s game in Minnesota on Sunday and his sister, Kailani, is studying abroad in Europe.
However, Killebrew said he knows of six former classmates — so far — who have suffered flesh wounds and were among the hundreds injured outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. He added he’s still getting texts as friends continue to hear of others who were hurt in the harrowing ordeal.
“I know of one girl, she’s in the hospital right now, so praying for a quick recovery for her. I have friends who know some of the people that were killed, unfortunately. It’s tough. It’s a hard time right now,” Killebrew said, taking a brief pause. “But once again, we’re praying for them and a lot is being done.”
Killebrew said one of the first people he reached out to back home were a couple of former female classmates. And he was caught off guard when one of them responded that she had been grazed by a bullet during the chaos.
“I was like, ‘Whoa.’ I wasn’t expecting that,” Killebrew said. “She had to go to the hospital and she was going to go to work the next day. I said, ‘You’re going to work?’ You got to figure people there, they work down the strip so they’re dealing with an influx of people that maybe had to stay overnight and they need every hand they can get.
“She felt it upon herself to go help even though she had just suffered a gunshot wound the night before. I mean, it’s crazy. The city is definitely wrapping its hands around all those people.”
Killbrew added that he has friends who are first responders who weren’t on duty at the time, but put it upon themselves to get to the scene as quickly as possible and do whatever they could to help.
“It’s hard for them, too, seeing that on that scale,” he said. “It’s not something you see every day.
“To go from responding to maybe a single incident to now all of sudden there’s bodies everywhere. You can’t unsee some stuff like that.”
What makes the tragic event hit Killebrew even harder is that that his mom, Lisa, and his sister could have been among the many casualties. Killebrew said his mom is a big country music fan and might have been at the Route 91 Harvest Festival had she not been in Minnesota for his game, while his sister used to attend shows all the time as an intern for a convention center and “would’ve definitely been there” had she not been studying abroad.
“I couldn’t imagine whether it was my child, if I had a kid or a friend of mine saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to go out to the concert and see you later tonight.’ And you’re just like, ‘OK, I’ll see you guys later,’ and just never see that person again,” Killebrew said. “I couldn’t imagine that.”
Killebrew said he’s been brainstorming ways to help back home but hasn’t decided on a definitive course of action. Yet, he encouraged anyone and everyone to donate blood to help the victims and wants to spread the message that people need to love now more than ever.
“I know it’s tough if you don’t directly know someone who was affected, it’s hard,” Killebrew said. “People are looking, they don’t know what to do. My best advice if you don’t have anyone that you can connect to is just love who is around you right now because in this day and age, you never know what’s going to happen. Just show some love to people around you if you can. Sometimes that’s all you can do.”