Social media reconnects ‘hero in the red hat’ & Nashville Preds fan he saved in Las Vegas
The power of social media reconnected the “hero in the red hat" and the "woman in the SMASH hat" who he saved when a gunman unloaded a cache of weapons at a Las Vegas concert.
Larry Rorick posted a photo on Facebook of the hero in the red hat who he said saved his wife Danielle and several others when accused shooter Stephen Paddock carried out Sunday’s massacre.
When 27-year-old Anthony Chavez found out Jason Aldean was headlining the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival – he knew he and his girlfriend had to go, and not just go, but be in front.
Chavez and his girlfriend attended the concert by themselves, but quickly made friends with other concertgoers near the stage.
But just as innocent conertgoers were letting the good times roll – gunfire rang out.
Aldean was cooing “when she says baby” when Chavez said he heard the first volley of firing.
“Sounded just like fireworks, definitely not gun fire, everyone had a delayed reaction. I think what freaked a lot of people out was when the folks in the middle of the crowd and to the southwest corner of the venue started getting hit.”
Chavez said when everyone else hit the ground, he was stuck and couldn’t get totally down, even though his girlfriend was trying to pull him to safety.
At one point, Chavez started to listen to the ‘clapping’ as he was crouching.
“I noticed the girl next to my girl a feet away just covered in blood looking at her hands in shock."
That’s when Chavez’ instincts kicked in and he knew it was time to move – but a hurdle was in their way.
“Let’s go, jump the fence!”
Chavez’ girlfriend was the first one over the fence. But, after arguing with security who were trying to keep people to stay down and take cover, Chavez knew he couldn’t follow his girlfriend.
“I locked eyes with somebody and I knew I had to help them get over."
Those somebodies included Danielle Rorick and her friends.
The barrier around the stage was about four feet tall.
“I probably helped at least five or six people get over that fence. I don’t know if anyone followed and I wish we had stayed together but in the chaos that’s not an option, people have their own plans and follow them.”
Chavez was free from the barrier – but not yet out of danger.
“I thought I lost my girlfriend until I turned around and saw her taking cover behind a speaker in front of the stage. I grabbed her and we ran along the crown control barrier around the center stage platform and headed toward the backstage area. There was literally no traffic in front of us it was just us. We did hide out for a quick second to try and catch reassess. I said let’s keep moving, let’s go let’s go!”
While Chavez was trying to keep himself and his girlfriend safe – his heroic actions weren’t over yet.
“On the way there we ran into a lady just giving up leaning up against a street light. I said no not today let’s go! DO NOT GIVE UP! Let’s move! From that moment I was in help mode.”
Chavez’ girlfriend headed to MGM with a group of others while the hero stayed behind and helped first responders.
Gunshot wounded victims were sent to one area, and the non-wounded to another.
“My voice was gone from yelling, trying to get peoples' attention to listen to me and focus. I eventually sounded like a drill sergeant yelling orders! This is how I helped and I wanted to help as many as I could.”
After about an hour of helping, Chavez was stopped by a young girl who was standing in the street, frantic and without pants on.
“I grabbed her and looked her in the eyes and said my name is Anthony I’ll help you if you help me I took my shirt off and tried to cover her up. She was inconsolable. I finally was able to get her to come down and head toward her hotel where I left her with a group of individuals I knew would help her from there.”
Chavez was able to borrow someone’s phone and reconnect with his girlfriend.
Las Vegas Police said 58 people were killed and nearly 500 were injured in what is the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
A day after the shooting, a post started circulating on Facebook from Larry Rorick – pleading with Facebook users to help him find “the hero in the red hat” who helped save his wife Danielle – and so many others.
Social media was used for good this time and was able to identify the hero as Anthony Chavez. They have since been in touch.
“I am so glad Danielle and her group were able to get to safety and are home and well. I’m so glad something in me told me to stay and help. I could have left. Lord knows something in me wanted to leave but I didn’t feel that last night the overwhelming urge to help the best I could.”
Although Chavez is being hailed a hero – that’s not the way he sees it.
“Nothing heroic just doing what any man or woman would have done to help those around us!”
The Woman He Saved
It was the third year Danielle Rorick and her friends attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival -- and this year they were extra excited because they were going to be in the front.
Rorick, a Nashville Predators fans, was sporting a "SMASH" hat in hopes Jason Aldean would notice she's a fan of the hockey team and take notice. Rorick told Fox 17 News she quickly became the "girl in the SMASH hat" to fellow concertgoers, including Anthony Chavez and his girlfriend, where Rorick and her friend settled next to for a spot at the show.
"You just bond with people after a while."
At the time she didn't know Chavez would be the man to help save her and her friends' life.
At around 10 p.m. that night, popping noises started going off. At first, Rorick said she thought it was someone who had let off confetti poppers earlier in the day -- but soon realized the "sound was completely different."
Rorick said she looked twice at a woman's face that was covered in blood, but it hadn't registered that it was a cache of gunfire that caused it. Rorick said she and her friends, one of whom was separated because she had gone to the bathroom, were croutched down and "couldn't think" in that moment.
But while others were croutching down, Chavez was standing up, arguing with a security guard to get people out of the area. Rorick then said Chavez looked at the women, starting yelling for them to move and helped them over the gate.
"He looked at us and yelled at us. We listened. He made that first decision for us. If not for him, we wouldn't have moved. We were sitting ducks."
After help from Chavez getting over the initial gate, Rorick and her friends headed under the stage, where she said she was shielded from seeing even more of the horrific scenes surrounding her. But Rorick knew they couldn't stay there, and decided to keep moving, not knowing at the time the gunman was still shooting.
Before making it to Hooters Casino Hotel, the mom says she received help from even more people along the way. She said there were so many EMTs, police and others who kept running back into the crowds to help.
She later heard after saving her and her friends, Chavez also went back into the chaos to help even more.
"That's who he was - he just did the right thing."
After returning home, Rorick told her husband about the "hero in the red hat" who saved her and several others, which prompted him to write the Facebook post that would help them identify Chavez.
The post also helped Rorick reconnect with a mom from Minnesota, who told her after seeing the photo on Facebook, "I've never been so happy to see that SMASH hat."
The Roricks' children play hockey and every year the family bets on a team to win the Stanlet Cup. For Danielle, the Nashville Predators are that team (and she almost won last year.)
"You choose hockey teams by their goalies, and I'm a huge Pekka Rinne fan."
Danielle says she got the SMASH hat after visiting Music City for a Preds game last year. Living in California, she said she's always hoping someone will see her hat and say "Go Nashville Predators," although she's still waiting for that to happen.
As far as attending conerts, Danielle said it's hard right now, but sometine in the future...
"I want to be able to put my boots on and put my hat on and go."