A man who survived the deadly mass shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California this week also survived the shooting in Las Vegas last year.
Sid Garcia spoke with him.
Here’s their conversation.
Sid Garcia, Ventura County, CA: “I’m with Brendan Kelly and a little disclaimer here — Brendan’s father and I went to Long Beach State together. We’ve known each other for most of our lives. Brendan, You were there last night. Just tell me what you went through and what what was going on.”
Brendan Kelly, Survived Two Mass Shootings: “Sure. I was a — as a regular at Borderline, there two three times a week. We’d only been there for maybe 45 minutes to an hour and they were about to teach a dance and I noticed that the lights were on for — for everybody did during the dance and having a good time doing a dance. And all of a sudden who’s here like first few shots — POP POP — and being in the military, being in the Marine Corps, I’m aware of what that sounds like, especially in an enclosed area. And so I grabbed basically whoever I could around me and just threw them to the ground, tried to look at where it was coming from. And just 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, which happened to be to my rear, which normally is not an exit that we go out of, but given the circumstances we just got out. It’s fight or flight at that point.”
Sid Garcia, Ventura County, CA: “Your training went into went into play here. Talk about how you just went into that mode and started getting people out.”
Brendan Kelly: “It’s a lot less thinking and it’s more doing and acting at that point. There’s no — there’s not time for emotions to be involved. You just have to do. You have to act because people’s lives are on the line, whether that’s getting them in a few seconds later, a minute later, or whoever can get out,, as fast as you can. That’s what I not only been trained to do but and raised to do by my family.”
Sid Garcia: “You were at the Vegas shooting last year. 13 months later, you’ve gotta to deal with this. How do you mentally just hold up after what you experienced last year and then last night.”
Brendan Kelly: “It’s too close to home. You know, we — borderline was our safe space after — for lack of a better term, was our home for – for probably 30 or 45 of us that were all from the greater Ventura County area that were in Vegas. And that was our place that we went to the following week, three nights in a row, just so we could be with each other. And for – for a place that’s been there for decades, that everyone loves, to go line-dancing and have a good time, for somebody to have such a senseless act of violence, it is truly heartbreaking and it … and it really it it’s really close to home for everyone in the Newbury Park-Thousand Oaks area … and beyond.”
Sid Garcia: “What was it like when you were able to get a hold of your mom and then say hey you’re OK?”
Brendan Kelly: “It was a phone call I was hoping I never had to make again. But I did. I got out who I was with and at that point, I was able to take cover behind some vehicles, grab my phone out, and you know, I called my mom. She didn’t pick up so I called Dad. Dad picked up. Hey Dad, there’s something going on right now. Just letting you know I’m safe, I’ll call you back when I can. I call my brother, one of my best friend’s, Aiden. I love him. And he didn’t pick up either. He called me back later I had to like be real short and sweet. Hey man I’m good. I know if you’ve heard yet this is what’s going on. I got to go but I’m good. On to the next. We were still hearing gunshots. My buddy who’s in the Navy, he had gotten a good sized gash on his arm. So that’s when I lost my belt initially. Tried to do kind of a hasty tourniquet that wasn’t really work and so I took off my shirt to apply pressure and was able to get him to a tree line and up the road. Once I did that I was able to talk to some of the sheriffs right there and turn around and go back and see what else they could do and … because at that point we’re still five minutes after it happened. We didn’t know how many there were. What else is going on. Who is all hurt. So I wanted to help as best I could.”
Sid Garcia: “Let’s talk about you helping out. We’ve got pictures of you last night. You trained for this. Just talked about the emotions or the adrenaline that was going through where you knew what was happening. You recognize the sound and your training just kicked in.”
Brendan Kelly: “Well, it’s a fight or flight. And I understand that not a lot of people have that and you’re gonna act one way or another and some people are just going to need help they might be frozen they might need that extra push. And I have some EMS training as well. So being able to grab a set of gloves, maybe find whoever I can that has extra gear or gauze or whatever, compressive bandage, that I can use to maybe help somebody that’s limping or has a gash or whatever it is. Before the paramedics and everyone else gets on scene because as far as they knew the scene wasn’t safe anyway, so if we could be the first level of first responders before they got there, that’s all you can do instead of just standing around and not doing much.
Sid Garcia: “Have you been able to wrap your head around that, in just over a year, you survived Las Vegas, you survived last night, but this one was literally down the road from your house.”
Brendan Kelly: “Nah, I haven’t. The only, only thing I can attribute to is God, his protective hand over me that night, October 1st, and last night. I easily could have been talking to one of my buddies by the front door who had just come in the door and been right by this individual. Easily. Happens all the time. It’s just where you are on the bar in that moment. And I’m very thankful to be sitting here with you today.”