Jason Aldean was performing at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1 when gunman Steven Paddock opened fire on the crowd, leaving 58 people dead and 489 others injured.
The singer, who was on stage at the time of the tragic shooting, has stayed fairly quiet about his own frightening experience until now.
Aldean relived the terrifying moment he realized a massacre was taking place and he was not, as he originally thought, experiencing a technical glitch. He explained on NBC’s “Today” show that the sound of gunfire was hard to make out at first, because he was wearing an in-ear microphone:
“So when it first happened, I thought a speaker had blown, is what I thought. It just sounded like a crackling something. And so, you know, I’m kind of looking around like, ‘What is that?’ trying to figure out what it is. Well, then it stopped. So I was like, ‘All right, well they must have got it fixed,’ so I kept doing my thing.”
The sound didn’t cease for long, though. When Paddock fired more shots at the crowd, Aldean thought it was another sound problem, which frustrated the singer. Then he was urged to get off the stage.
— Luke Broadlick (@LukeBroadlick) October 2, 2017
“It lasted longer the second time. So then I was actually kind of getting aggravated, so I looked over at my monitor guy that’s on the side of the stage as if to say, ‘What is that?’ and ‘Fix it.’ And when I turned to look, my guitar player had run behind me and was telling me to move, like, ‘Let’s go,’ and my security guy was running on stage, telling me to run.”
Once he realized what was happening, the fear and confusion kicked in. He watched terrified fans fleeing for their lives:
“Everybody just kind of panicked and didn’t really know where to go or what to do. … It was just kind of crazy, pandemonium.”
While he was unsure of what to do at the moment, he found many ways to help in the days following the massacre.
He returned to Las Vegas with his wife, Brittany, to comfort shooting victims healing in the hospital. And he put his voice to work to raise money for them.
Aldean recorded a cover of Tom Petty’s hit, “I Won’t Back Down,” with all proceeds of the song going to the shooting survivors, People reported.
“Today” reported that he took part in the Country Rising Concert with an all-star list of performers that raised over $4 million to benefit victims of the Las Vegas shooting as well as relief efforts for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria.
His performances are helping him deal with the tragedy as well. The singer explained to “Today” that the place he was standing when the shots rang out is the same place that is helping him heal:
“Honestly, being back on stage probably helped us more than anything, which is crazy.”
Watch Aldean describe the horrifying moment the shooting happened below: