Las Vegas shooting survivor finds support in Colorado

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A California sheriff's deputy is recovering at Craig Hospital after being shot in the chest during the Las Vegas massacre on Oct. 1. And he is getting some support from fellow law enforcement officers who know his pain.

Jason McMillan and his girlfriend, Ella Gaete, were in the crowd for the concert when the gunfire broke out.

"We were pretty close to the stage," McMillan said. "I was actually recording him at the time. I heard the sound and I thought it was the speakers, I turned around and it took maybe two seconds to face where the noise was coming from.

"I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from if it was in the crowd or VIP stage or out on the street. But I was just facing the direction of the gunfire and that’s when I just saw people getting shot and heard people in the crowd she’s been shot, someone’s shooting.

"My instincts kicked in from all the training at work. If I couldn’t get to wherever the gunfire was coming from to stop it, I needed to protect whoever was around me. It was too far away to stop it, so I pushed (Gaete) behind me with a sweeping motion.

"A few seconds later, I put my arms out, I saw the direction of the gunfire where it was leading. I got shot in the chest, went to the ground right away, felt like I was getting electrocuted.

"I grabbed my thighs, couldn’t move my legs at all. I turned and told her I couldn’t feel my legs. I noticed blood dripping out of my chest. It was all her after that.

"She came in to save me pretty much got me out of there. There were bullets raining down out of the sky, she’s dragging me over bodies and people laying on the ground hiding, there was a fence.. she got me over the fence somehow."

Gaete said she still does not know how she managed to drag McMillan to safety.

"Seeing his shirt drenched in blood, my body just clicked into survival mode," she said. "I’m just happy he made it out alive with me. He saved me from taking a bullet so it was my job to get us both out safely, with bullets raining down on us, I had no choice but get out and not hide."

McMillan still has a bullet lodged next to his spine. He said doctors think it is too risky to try to remove it.

"I am paralyzed from belly button down, but I have feeling," he said. "It’s what they call incomplete injury meaning messages are still getting through, but not all messages and it’s a lot of nerves needing to repair themselves.

"I have a little bit of movement, but not enough to get up and walk around obviously. Has it improved? Yes, since we got here, it’s improved. From what the physical therapists say, it’s improved dramatically."

McMillan said he has good days and bad days.

"With anything like this, you have rough days," he said. "I try to stay positive. She keeps me thinking about things I need to think about, not get buried in self doubt and stuff."

Gaete said she is learning to be patient.

"Patience is key, with his type of injury, it’s not going to happen overnight," she said. "We still don’t know if he’s going to walk. All we can do is have faith and not give up."

Even though they are nearly 1,000 miles from home, they are getting lots of support and friendship during their stay in Colorado.

John Adsit and Dan Brite know better than most what McMillan and Gaete are going through. They were critically injured on the job and have made remarkable recoveries.

"When we found out Jason was here and learned his situation, we said we need to meet this guy," said Brite, a Douglas County sheriff's deputy who was shot in the line of duty.

Adsit, a retired Denver police officer who was run over by a car while he was escorting student protesters in 2014, started Adsit Strong to help other first responders.

"We`re trying get an action track chair for Jason to help with mobility in the future, get around, chair to life him up to be in a standing position," he said.

Brite said his action track chair, donated about a month ago, is helping him get back outdoors, which he loves.

"Just the freedom to get around wherever I want, it`s amazing," he said.

Brite and Adsit said so many people helped them through their recoveries that they want to pay it forward and help others such as McMillan.

Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock stopped by to hand-deliver a $2,000 donation on behalf of the Douglas County Deputy Sheriff's Association.

"We just wanted to be a part of whatever we could do to help you," Spurlock said. "So many people came forward to help us when Dan was injured, people came forward to help we just feel we have a lifetime yet to repay. We just want to help you."

McMillan and Gaete are extremely grateful for the support.

"We were definitely nervous about coming here not knowing anybody, but it turned out to be complete opposite. We are very thankful," Gaete said.

McMillan knows patience will be key. Doctors can't tell him if he will ever walk again, but he is determined, and with the support of the people around him, he knows anything is possible.

"We'll make it. We will get there," he said.

To make a donation, visit AdsitStrong.org and click on the donate button. All the proceeds will go to McMillan for his recovery.

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