Maybe because it’s the job of police to deal with stories that so many police officers are drawn to the stories of Country-Western music today.

But the stories of Country-Western music had the allure to draw hundreds of police officers from California on the weekend of September 29-October 1 this year to Las Vegas.  This was for the Route 91 Harvest Festival where the top Country-Western performers in America came into one of the largest urban entertainment fields in the world.

The field creates a kind of valley among the towering hotel-casinos standing around it.  And the largest towering mountain casino of the area was the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino overlooking the many thousands of people who were attending the Harvest Festival at 10 pm on October 1.

The Georgian Country Western singer Jason Aldean had been on stage for a half hour, the third super star country singer who followed Eric Church and Sam Hunt on the previous two days. Aldean had been on the major circuit of the Country Western tour since 2005.  Even in the middle of his performance, there was the sound of not overly loud automatic machine-gun fire that sounded almost like something out of a movie at first.

But then people started screaming, and diving to the ground, and running, but the machine-gun rattle continued and was now clearly mowing down the innocent people Country Western fans who came only to watch another Harvest Festival.

Up in the Mandalay Bay resort, another crazy man with a gun was killing Americans at random once again. I have already forgotten his name.  Padlock?  The truth is that there have been so many crazy men with guns killing masses of Americans that I cannot remember any of their names now  – their identities have so disappeared from my thoughts that there is nothing left of them in me to even get them mixed up in my mind.

There were more than enough uniformed Las Vegas police distinguished by their yellow parkas to control any normally wrong incident happening at a music festival.  But shooting rapid-fire machine-gun fire at a totally exposed crown of many thousands from 32 stories is not a normally wrong incident.  It was not even possible for a police officer on the ground in this case to fire back at the shooter.

Of course, Padlock the Shooter or whatever his name was understood that, because he planned this massacre for a maximum kill. 

Then one of the 58 people Padlock killed was off-duty Las Vegas police officer Charleston Hartfield, 34, married and a father of two young children.

Hartfield was not attending the Harvest festival to be on duty, but to spend a few hours dressed in gaudy cowboy clothes to enjoy the country-western show with his wife. 

But when the bullets started raining around him, Hartfield called on all of his 16 years of National Guard and active Army military service as well as 11 years in the Las Vegas police department to escort first his wife and then – one by one – people who had often become frozen in fear to some kind of visible shelter.

When he deposited one person to a shelter, Hartfield then flung himself back into harm’s way to retrieve another person in danger.

He kept doing this until he was killed.

He was one of 58 killed in the massacre, with over 500 injured.  Among the injured were hundreds of California off-duty police officers doing the same brave things that Hartfield had been doing before they were killed – using their police training to escort the terrified audience to safer grounds.

While this story may be one of the bravest we have ever heard about off-duty police officers, it unfortunately has a cowardly ending,  It seems that Orange County denied four off-duty county police officer in Las Vegas on October 1 medical benefits to pay for their wounds because the officers performed their duties outside the state of California,  Apparently the Orange County commissioners feared these kind of expenses might eat into the Orange County tax money that they are so used to spending to see Anaheim Ducks games and Angel games and the like at tax payers expense.

Fortunately, this is a story about brave police officers, not about the cowardly and corrupt commissioners of Orange County.

This is about Profiles of Courage in the year 2017.

Chris Sharp- Commentary

Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . Sharp's latest book is an Amazon Kindle collection of his published short stories, Every Kind of Angel . His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.