This image of a man lying on top of a woman as he shielded her from the barrage of bullets that were flying around them has become one of the most haunting from the Las Vegas shooting massacre.
It happened just moments after a gunman opened fire on 22,000 country music fans on Sunday night from across the street on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino.
The powerful image, taken by Getty photographer David Becker, was one of the first to emerge from the massacre. At the time, it wasn’t clear if the woman was dead or if she had been seriously injured.
But as the death toll rose to 59 and the number of injured soared to 527, Becker has since revealed what happened to the mystery couple.
Getty photographer David Becker has revealed that he saw this couple get up and run away just moments after he snapped the photo in Las Vegas on Sunday night
The couple ended up on the ground as panicked concert-goers tried to escape the deadly gunfire from above. The man was photographed lying on top of the woman as he touched her cheek
‘I don’t know if she was injured but he was very clearly shielding her with his body and protecting her,’ Becker said.
The couple had ended up on the ground as panicked concert-goers tried to escape the deadly gunfire from above. The man was photographed lying on top of the woman as he touched her cheek.
Seconds after Becker took the photo, he said: ‘I saw them both get up and run away.’
Becker had just finished taking pictures at the Route 91 Harvest festival and was back in the media tent editing his photos when the first shots were fired.
‘I went outside to see what was happening and a security guy said it was just “fire crackers”, so I went back to work. The second time I heard the popping sounds somebody said to me “it was just speakers or sound equipment” and again, I went back into the media tent and continued to work. Then the noises went again and that was when the crowd started to flee,’ he said in a statement issued to various outlets.
Becker said it was dark outside and he couldn’t see exact details until he went back through his camera. He didn’t know if was gunfire until he looked and saw photos like this one of a woman covered in blood
‘A man in a wheelchair was helped to an exit’: Becker recalled what he saw as the 22,000 concert-goers fled as gunfire rang out
Becker said he grabbed his camera and ran outside to take photos of the crowd fleeing. He said that he was still unaware it was gunfire as he captured the terror on people’s faces as they fled.
‘It was so dark I couldn’t really see what was happening, there were a lot of people crying, speaking on cell phones and ducking for cover.
‘As the crowd thinned out I was able to go a little closer to try and see what was going on and take some more pictures, and I’m still thinking to myself “it’s just the speakers, there is nothing going on”.
‘There were groups of people helping each other everywhere and a real sense of people running for cover. People were fleeing, they were panicking.
‘The gun fire was sporadic, it would stop and then more shots, then a lull and then more shots. I could hear people yelling at them to shut off the lights, to be quiet.
The Getty photographer said he could sense that people were panicked as they ran for cover, but he did not actually know it was gunfire until several minutes later
He kept taking photos as people were carried to safety, but Becker said he wasn’t actually sure what he was capturing at the time because it was so dark
‘People were cowering, they were very fearful for their lives. A woman tripped right in front of me, a man shielded a woman with his body before I saw them both get up and run away, a man in a wheelchair was helped to an exit.’
It wasn’t until he went back to the media tent and called a colleague that he realized police had called a ‘code red’ and shut down the area.
‘It was then I started looking at my photographs and what I was seeing was just unbelievable. It had been so dark outside I couldn’t see the details, I just saw a lot of people laying on the ground thinking they were playing possum, but now I could see people covered in blood and I thought, this is real,’ he said.
‘When I saw the image of the woman lying on the ground covered in blood, that was when the impact of what I was experiencing hit; when I realized people were dying.’