CVPD officer injured in Las Vegas attack recounts fleeing bullet - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

CVPD officer injured in Las Vegas attack recounts fleeing bullet barrage

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(NEWS 8) - The Chula Vista Police Department confirmed Wednesday that an off-duty officer celebrating his birthday in Las Vegas with family was injured by gunfire during Sunday night's mass shooting.

The department said that officer Fred Rowbotham was in Las Vegas for the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival celebrating his 45th birthday. Rowbotham was enjoying the show with his wife and another couple, one of whom is a Kern County Firefighter, about 100 feet away from the stage when he heard the first round of bullets.

"I immediately recognized the sound, but in my mind, I was trying to explain it away," Rowbotham said. "I looked at the stage for pyrotechnics which may explain away the sounds. I didn't see anything. I looked at the nearby speaker tower, thinking perhaps there was a problem there. The sounds stopped and I thought that perhaps it was an electrical problem, but then the sound of fully automatic rifle fire started again and we knew immediately what it was."

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Recognizing that there was no place to take cover, Rowbotham and his friends fled to the east away from the shots coming from the west. They could feel fragments from the ricocheting bullets hitting them on their backsides and could hear bullets whizzing by in the air.

As they fled, Rowbotham's wife fell to the ground. He stopped to tend to her and insisted that they keep going. And then he was grazed by a bullet in his hip.

Rowbotham was bleeding but continued on through the exit and toward a nearby airport. He encouraged others to keep moving and about 100 people started to follow his group to the airport, some falling from exhaustion.

The crowd was eventually met by a large security fence leading to the tarmac which they kicked in. They continued on to the tarmac searching for safety until three Las Vegas Police Department vehicles approached them and escorted them across the runway, the sound of gunfire still ringing out.

"The sound of automatic rifle fire, even in this line of work as a police officer, is very rare," Rowbotham said. "The sound of hearing bullets whizzing by is something you never want to hear."

A few airport buses came and picked the crowd up and took them to shelter at the terminal.

Rowbotham rented a car and went along with others to a friend's house, which was their first opportunity to gather their breath and tend to their wounds. They tried to relax for the night but no one could sleep.

"As much as I try, I'll never forget this birthday," said Rowbotham.

His advice for anyone after surviving the ordeal is to always be prepared. He said you must determine a course of action when you realize your situation: run, hide or fight. Rowbotham's first instinct as an officer was to fight, but he knew that under the circumstances his only course of action was to gather those nearby and lead them to safety.


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