Santa Fe police captain used training to save lives in Las Vegas

Justin Kreitz
October 04, 2017 10:18 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. -- Stories of heroism involving New Mexicans caught in the Las Vegas shootings continue to emerge. Among them is Santa Fe police captain's incredible account of helping people to safety as shots rang out around him.


Nearly 60 people died and hundreds more were injured at a country music festival Sunday when a gunman perched high above in a hotel room opened fire. Thanks to Santa Fe Police Capt. Adam Gallegos' quick thinking and ability to stay calm, several people caught in the panic made it to safety.

Gallegos didn't expect to put his police training to work Sunday. He was just a regular concertgoer when gunshots started ringing out. Then the chaos ensued. Thinking it was fireworks at first, Gallegos noticed something was wrong once the band left the stage. He and a fellow officer knew they had to get their group out of there.

"We got the people we were with to hunker down a little bit, and we started moving," he said.

They moved the opposite direction of the gunshots -- linking arms, looking for a way out and using whatever cover they could.

"As we were walking, we were actually reaching down and picking people up who had fallen and were being trampled," Gallegos said.

They made it out an emergency exit where they encountered three security officers. Then something horrible happened right in front of Gallegos. The guard was shot in the stomach. It's not clear what became of him.

"All of a sudden, one of them just went down," he said.

The group moved through a parking lot but eventually met a dead end. By then, there were about 40 people with him, some wounded. Gallegos said some people managed to lift up chain link fence so they could keep moving. But others were hesitant to go under it.

"I just laid flat on my stomach and rolled under the fence and told them that's how you've got to do it," he said. "… And we just started getting people through."

They eventually made it to a mechanic's shop near the airport and took shelter there.

Gallegos returned to work Tuesday, less than 48 hours after the attack. He said he will use his experience to help improve police practices and safety at venues in Santa Fe. He's also thankful for his police experience and training, which kept calm and collected amid the chaos.

"The most important thing -- and I want to tell people this -- in a similar situation, the most important thing is not to panic," he said.


Justin Kreitz

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