The owner of a pair of boots that went viral after the Las Vegas mass shooting shared his experiences from the harrowing night.
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Like many, Stephen Vicelja said that he initially believed the shots to be fireworks. He didn’t realize there were bullets being fired around him until one hit him in the leg. Vicelja ran away from the area as fast as he could manage, stopped at a sidewalk outside of the venue, and took his boots off to tend to his wound with a stranger’s help.
“It was pretty amazing to see how many people were helping all those people sitting on the curb,” he recalled.
Vicelja saw the viral photo of his boots after he left the hospital. For him, the stars and stripes cowboy boots were a symbol of hope and survival.
— Las Vegas Sun (@LasVegasSun) October 4, 2017
Vicelja, who was still wearing his blood-splattered wristband while making his comments, said that he hopes to find his boots “in remembrance of all the people there and the fact that I was able to make it out alive.” Included in that memory is classmate South Torrance High classmate Christiana Duarte, who died in the shooting.