What to Know
- A gunman shot and killed dozens of people and injured hundreds of others after opening fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas
- Medford, New Jersey's "Kip" Duffy spent years as a Las Vegas police officer training for active shooter situations
- Friends & former colleagues woke Duffy up with information about the shooting, including the death of one of his former co-workers.
Retired Las Vegas police officer Joe "Kip" Duffy trained for events like Sunday's mass shooting at a country concert on the Las Vegas Strip, but he was never prepared to feel so helpless as his friends and colleagues responded to the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Duffy, who now lives in Medford, New Jersey, teared up as he spoke over FaceTime with NBC10’s Tracy Davidson after learning that at least one of his former colleagues was killed at the concert.
"I'm retired, sitting at home, drinking a cup of coffee and they're gearing up for combat. It's tough," an emotional Duffy said.
Duffy, a former U.S. Marine and a South Jersey native, spent 15 years on the Las Vegas Metropolitan police force. He spoke to his former partner as the shooting was unfolding during Jason Aldean’s headlining set at the Route 91 Harvest Festival — adjacent to the Mandalay Bay, Luxor and Tropicana resorts.
It was a little after 10 p.m. Pacific time Sunday when Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, police said. The 64-year-old sprayed a hail of bullets from hundreds of yards away on the crowd of about 22,000 people below.
At least 58 people were killed and more than 500 were injured, police said. Paddock later killed himself.
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"It's a very chaotic scene… especially since there’s so many people involved," Duffy, who was woken up by text messages from friends in Las Vegas, said.
"It's our worst nightmare, it's anybody's worst nightmare," he said. "It's something that we always train for."
In the wake of the 1998 Columbine school shooting, Las Vegas police began to regularly train for active shooter situations, Duffy said.
Duffy was part of the department’s Homeland Security Saturation Team for three years. The specialized unit served as first responders to any attack on the strip. Two 25-man teams with heavy gear, medical kits and AR-15 rifles would be on the ready to respond, Duffy said.
"We were very big on trying to be cross-trained medically too…" since fire and EMS personnel couldn't always go in during an active shooting situation, Duffy said.
A husband and father of two young children, Duffy's long history of military and police service has led him to avoid attending events that have large crowds out of fear that events like this shooting could transpire.
"I wish I could be that person drinking the beer... but I'm constantly on guard," Duffy said.