KORN FERRY TOUR INSIDER
McInerney survives Las Vegas shooting
Las Vegas native inspired by how his community rallied together
October 04, 2017
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Web.com Tour member A.J. McInerney was at Sunday night's concert in Las Vegas, which turned into the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. (Ryan Young/PGA TOUR)
“It was da-da-da-da-da-da for a full minute. We were sitting ducks in this crowd of people, and he was 32 floors up with the range and the angle on the entire place. The shooting let up for a few seconds, assuming for him to reload, and when that happened we figured we had to go. We ran for our lives.”
Twenty-three-year-old A.J. McInerney was upset to be missing the Web.com Tour Championship on Sunday, after a fairly up-and-down season on the Web.com Tour saw him finish 97th on the money list.
But this past weekend, the Las Vegas native was more than happy to be home with his close group of friends attending the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, a weekend they look forward to all year long.
Jason Aldean, one of country music’s biggest acts, and a favorite of McInerney and his girlfriend, Alyssa Martine, had just begun his festival-ending set.
Aldean, known for big guitar riffs and soaring country-rock hooks, was just settling into a groove, along with Martine and McInerney, who were dancing together to Aldean’s 2012 hit, ‘When She Says Baby,’ and having a blast, he says.
And that’s when it happened.
“At first it sounded like firecrackers, right in the area we were standing in," recalls McInerney. "It sounded like they were 10 feet from us. We turned around, the group of 20 or so I was with, and we all looked around, wondering, ‘Who the heck brought firecrackers into a concert?’ when all of a sudden, a guy who was right near us yelled at the top of his voice: ‘Those aren’t firecrackers … everybody get down!’”
Saw a few people down and bullets hitting the ground everywhere. I'm lucky to be alive. Praying for everyone. #VegasStrong— AJ McInerney (@AJ_McInerney) October 2, 2017
McInerney didn’t know it at the time, but he was in the midst of the largest mass shooting in the history of the United States, with more than 50 dead and nearly 600 injured, after a shooter open-fired from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
McInerney admits he was lucky neither he nor his girlfriend were saying hello to a friend, or getting water, or in the bathroom, at the time.
They were together.
“We knew what was going on and we ran. We ran for our lives,” he says. “You could hear bullets and the ‘thump’ when they hit someone next to you. You could hear it flying overhead. You could see the smoke and the sparks come off the asphalt next to you where the bullets landed.”
Words don't describe how thankful I am for @AJ_McInerney.He laid right on top of me to make a shield & made me his #1 priority(Ant did too)— alyssa martine (@alyssamartine) October 3, 2017
McInerney says despite the horrific act that took place Sunday, he says the way the Las Vegas community has rallied together has been inspiring.
He says a friend of his waited 12 hours to give blood earlier this week, the restaurants were donating food, and people were bringing around phone chargers to people who were trying to contact loved ones – anything they could to help.
“My girlfriend’s brother … his sister got shot, so we didn’t know where they were. My mom was able to pick him up after he got separated from her and took him to the hospital. She is going to live after surgery," he explains, saying the first responders of Las Vegas were the real heroes Sunday night during the frantic scene in one of the world's busiest cities.
"The amount of people who helped and put their lives on the line ... when we were driving away, people who weren’t even at the concert, they had pickup trucks and were driving towards (the shooting). People were running down the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard, just running for safety, and would jump into the back of pickup trucks just trying to get away."
After about 15 minutes, the shooting had ceased, and he, his girlfriend, and her brother made it to his car. McInerney says he grabbed as many people as he could – even people he didn’t know – and took them away from the shooting area.
“I wanted to go back and help as much as I could,” he says. “Me and my friends and my girlfriend weren’t physically harmed, but we’re just emotionally shaken.”
His spirits were lifted by the way the community – his community – came together in such a time of crisis.All of a sudden, a guy who was right near us yelled at the top of his voice: ‘Those aren’t firecrackers … everybody get down!'
“I love Las Vegas. I grew up here and I stayed here for college. I’m based out of here now and I have no plans for leaving. This made me fall in love with Vegas even more,” he says. “Everyone knows everyone and we came together so good. We came together and everyone did what they could to help.”
McInerney hasn’t played golf since the shooting, and admits he’s not sure how the incident will impact him on the course. He’ll play Second Stage of Web.com Tour Q-School in about a month and says he’s going to do his best to prepare for that week.
He’s seen a horrific tragedy unfold in front of his own eyes, but if there can be a silver lining to the massacre, it's how well Las Vegas rallied as one.
And that’s what he says he’s going to try to remember moving forward.
“It’s not about who you are or anything like that. It’s about the people that died, and doing everything you can to help them. It’s no longer about any individual person,” he says. “When you’re sitting there getting shot at, everyone’s the same.”