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October 18, 2018

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Red Cross to honor Oct. 1 heroes at annual awards ceremony

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Edd Lockwood / Red Cross

Nevada Highway Patrol Sgt. Shawn Eckert will be honored at the American Red Cross Everyday Heroes ceremony for his actions during the Oct. 1 mass shooting.

Shawn Eckert was enjoying the evening of Oct. 1 as much as any of the other 22,000 country music fans at the Route 91 Harvest festival.

Eckert, 43, was with his wife listening to Jason Aldean, one of his favorite country music artists, when bullets began raining down on the crowd. A gunman had opened fire from a Strip hotel tower onto the crowd below, resulting in 58 deaths and more than 800 injuries.

While people scrambled for cover, Eckert, a Nevada Highway Patrol sergeant and former member of the Air Force, instinctively started helping people get to safety amid the chaos, including a fellow trooper’s daughter.

“We’re trained for active-shooter situations and when the shots started going off, I just went into work mode,” said Eckert, who was off duty at the time. “Our first priority is to get people to safety, and we don’t really even think about it.”

Eckert is one of eight people from the Oct. 1 shooting who will be honored at this year’s American Red Cross Everyday Heroes ceremony. The event is from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Friday at the Paris.

The annual event, which recognizes “ordinary people who do extraordinary things,” features 13 winners across categories including law enforcement, medical professionals, animal rescue and good Samaritans. Two youth good Samaritan awards were included this year.

Alan Diskin, executive director of the American Red Cross of Southern Nevada, said organizers would have liked to be able to recognize the hundreds of “heroes who came to the aid of those in need” during the Oct. 1 tragedy.

Among those being recognized is Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Engen, who ignored the gunfire and carried shooting victims to safety. Engen, 26, who was off duty, administered CPR to a person who had stopped breathing.

“I felt like I had to do something,” said Engen, an eight-year veteran of the service. “It was a combined effort, as well, from many other people.”

Eckert said, “We didn’t do this for awards; this is just how we’re trained to react. Honestly, I wish we could have helped more people.”