White House press secretary Sarah Sanders praised the heroic acts of attendees of a country music festival in Las Vegas where 58 people were killed and more than 500 injured in a mass shooting Sunday night, including one Tennessee man who was killed protecting his young wife.
Sonny Melton, 29, of Big Sandy, Tenn., was shot and killed at the Route 91 Harvest music festival. He attended the three-day festival with his wife, Heather Melton.
"One man, 29-year-old Sonny Melton, had traveled from Tennessee to Las Vegas for the concert with his wife Heather," Sanders said at Monday's White House press briefing. "When the bullets began raining down, Sonny shielded her from danger, selflessly giving up his life to save hers. They had been married for just over a year."
"He saved my life," Heather Melton said of her husband in a statement to USA Today. "He grabbed me and started running when I felt him get shot in the back. I want everyone to know what a kind-hearted, loving man he was, but at this point, I can barely breathe."
Sonny Melton worked as a registered nurse at Henry County Medical Center in Paris, Tenn.
His wife is an orthopedic surgeon at Innovative Orthopedics, the hospital said in a statement.
"The thoughts and prayers of the entire HCMC family are with Sonny and Heather's families," Thomas Gee, CEO of Henry County Medical Center, said in a statement. "We ask that all staff, friends, and patients of the couple respect their privacy at this time and refrain from contacting the family and the HCMC Kelley Clinic if they do not have a reason to do so."
Sanders also praised the actions of others, including one 53-year-old man who shielded others from gunfire, and a woman and her fiance who fled the festival, but returned to help transport the wounded to the hospital.
"The Gospel of John reminds us that there's no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend," Sanders said. "The memory of those who displayed the ultimate expression of love in the midst of an unimaginable act of hate will never fade. Their examples will serve as an eternal reminder that the American spirit cannot and will not ever be broken."
Dozens of people were killed and hundreds injured when Stephen Paddock, 64, opened fire on the crowd of 22,000 attendees of the Route 91 Harvest music festival from a hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.
Police believe Paddock killed himself before law enforcement could breach his hotel room door, and they found at least 10 rifles in his room.