Autumn Janoss’ weekend getaway to the Route 91 Harvest Festival country music concert in Las Vegas had neared its end.
Janoss, a sergeant first class and personnel sergeant in the Nevada Army National Guard, called her mother shortly before 10 p.m. on Oct. 1, telling her she enjoyed herself and wasn’t looking forward to her flight back to Reno early the next morning.
“It was one of the best weekends we’ve ever had,” said Joanna Lovejoy, Janoss’ best friend who also was at the concert. “At that point in the night, I was just tired.”
As the concert entered its final hours, though, a succession of loud blasts echoed through the area near Las Vegas’ famed Strip.
“We stood up and at first we thought it was fireworks,” said Janoss, of Dayton. “We were looking up to the sky for the pretty colors, but there were no pretty colors.”
After a brief pause, a second series of shots rained from the sky, this time with Lovejoy leaning over Janoss on the ground.
“It felt like a bee sting at first, then it got hot and I felt my leg get wet,” Lovejoy, of Las Vegas, said.
“She (Lovejoy) said, ‘Autumn, I’ve been shot,” Janoss said. “Had her knee not been where it was, it was going to hit me. So, she literally took a bullet for me.”
A second round grazed Lovejoy’s left side.
She was one of several hundred injured during the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas. Fifty-eight people were killed when Stephen Paddock, 64, opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay before killing himself. Among the dead was Las Vegas Metropolitan police officer and Nevada Army National Guardsman 1st Sgt. Charleston Hartfield.
Noticing her friend’s gunshot wound, Janoss grabbed a sweatshirt and wrapped it around the injured leg.
“I told her it was going to hurt, but I had to do it,” Janoss said. “I put a tourniquet on her and I pulled it as tight as I could.”
“Had it not been for Army training, I don’t know what would have happened,” Janoss said. “Thankfully they taught me how to use a tourniquet. Thankfully they taught me about a three-to-five second rush. Thankfully they taught me about cover and concealment. I was screaming ‘go’ when it was time to go. I was screaming ‘cover’ when it was time to cover.”
Janoss carried Lovejoy through much of the concert area before they reached nearby medical aid. A stranger also helped carry Lovejoy.
“In the face of so much hate people came together,” she said.
Devon Proctor, who attended the concert with Janoss and Lovejoy, contacted her husband, Jason Proctor, during the shooting. He met them at the Tropicana Casino and Resort. From there, they drove to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, eventually arriving at the hospital about 90 minutes after the shooting began.
“People were driving all kinds of crazy on the road — sideways, the wrong way,” Janoss said. “It was quite the experience to get to the emergency room. Devon and I went into the bathroom to make sure we weren’t shot. There was blood caked all over us.”
Janoss contacted Lovejoy’s mother and 17-year-old daughter on her phone, and said she “remained calm yet guarded throughout the evening.”
She didn’t realize the magnitude of what happened until she arrived for her flight the next morning — without any sleep the night before — and saw the news reports on airport televisions.
“The support from my family, my military family and friends has just been my strength,” Janoss said. “It’s a long road, but I’m sure in time, it will be better.”
Lovejoy said her recovery, so far, has been less emotional and more physical. She recently began rehabilitation on her leg.
Janoss, Lovejoy and Proctor are in the process of getting similar tattoos to remember how close they came to death and those who died. Janoss’ reads “I’m alive” on her shoulder with Lovejoy’s, Proctor’s and her initials, along with a ribbon for Hartfield. Proctor’s reads “We are alive,” and, when her leg heals, Lovejoy plans to get “I survived” tattooed on her leg.
“We have been through all kinds of things imaginable,” Lovejoy said of her two-decade-long friendship with Janoss. “I do consider her my best friend. I couldn’t imagine my life without her. She is definitely a blessing to me and my family. I’m beyond grateful nothing more happened to us.”