“I already didn’t wish it on anybody to begin with for the first time,” said Brendan Kelly, speaking to The Associated Press outside his home in Thousand Oaks. “The second time around doesn’t get any easier.”
Kelly, a 22-year-old Marine, said he was one of a number of people at the Borderline Bar and Grill that night who had lived through the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival massacre in 2017.
“The chills go up your spine. You don’t think it’s real—again,” he said.
The Thousand Oaks shooting claimed 12 lives, including that of the gunman.
Survivor Nicholas Champion told CBS reporters that he was inside the Borderline Bar & Grill when Ian David Long opened fire on the crowd.
Like Kelly, Champion said he was among the “about 50 or 60” others at the Borderline bar who also survived the shooting that killed 58 people and injured nearly 500 others at the country music concert in Las Vegas last October.
“It’s the second time in about a year and a month that this has happened,” he said. “It’s a big thing for us. We’re all a big family and, unfortunately, this family got hit twice.”
Kelly told ABC7 he was dancing with friends when he recognized the sound of gunfire.
“Being in the military, being in the Marine Corps, I’m aware of what that sounds like, especially in an enclosed area,” he said.
“As soon as I identified where the target was, or where the threat was, I grabbed at least two people around me and yanked them as hard as I could to get to the nearest exit,” Kelly said.
He said he and others managed to make it to safety. After the shooting was over, Kelly said he and another Marine friend helped victims alongside first responders.
Two of his friends were among those killed.
“It’s too close to home,” Kelly told ABC7. “Borderline was our safe space after, for lack of a better term, it was our home for the probably 30 or 45 of us who are all from the greater Ventura County area who were in Vegas. That was our place where we went to the following week, three nights in a row just so we could be with each other.”
Kelly has a large tattoo on his left arm memorializing the Las Vegas shooting.
When the Las Vegas gunman opened fire from a 32nd-floor hotel room, Kelly said he threw a friend to the ground before helping get her out of the area and into a room. Armed with a knife in case an attacker came in, he hunkered down and waited with 40 other people for four hours.
He said living through Vegas changed his life.
“Everywhere I go, everything I do is affected,” he said. “I don’t sit in a room with my back to the door. You’re always picking up on social cues. You’re always overanalyzing people, trying to figure out if something were to go down, ‘What would I do?'”
Kelly said he’ll be looking to God for comfort in the coming weeks and months.
“I know that, being a religious person, that God is never going to give me anything more than I can handle,” he said. “I’m here for a reason.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Thousand Oaks Shooting Survivor Lived Through Las Vegas Massacre