Luke Combs: “This Is 100 Percent Gunfire”

Recalls Events from Side Stage at Route 91

Luke Combs was hanging out on the tour bus with Jake Owen when they decided, “Hey, let’s go watch Aldean.”

Which means that when the deadly mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival started on Sunday night (Oct. 1), Combs was in the thick of it.

“We were actually on stage when it happened,” Combs told the Today show on Monday. Combs, a country newcomer, had been one of the first to post a terrifying tweet: “Active shooter at @Route91Harvest in Vegas. We’re safe. Love you guys.”

But when he first heard the shots, Combs said he wasn’t all that concerned.

“We heard the first four shots ring out, and doing music for a living — you deal with pyrotechnics a lot on stage. And so nobody on stage really even batted an eye. It just seemed like it was part of the show,” he said. “Nobody on stage was concerned, and so at that point we were just standing there. And then the first burst happened.”

Even after that, though, Combs admitted he was still under the impression that something was going wrong with the pyrotechnics, or that there was some kind of electrical failure. Then people were cleared off the stage.

“It was a few minutes after that when pandemonium set in, and the bursts kept happening,” he said, estimating that he heard what sounded like 10-12 clips of ammunition. “Originally everyone was panicking, but me and my manager were pretty calm. I’ve been around firearms, and it didn’t sound like gunfire to me. Then I was in the catering tent with a fan who had kind of wandered back, and we were both talking about how it wasn’t gunfire. But then we heard the next burst and it sounded like maybe (the gunman) had put a weapon out of the window, which would completely change the sound.

“At that point,” he recalls thinking, “this is 100 percent gunfire.”

To escape the violence, Combs had to run back towards the stage and then across the street where his tour bus was parked.

“You didn’t know if it was an attack that was targeted at the festival, or if it was some kind of violence going on that happened to be close to the festival. But I don’t want to be scared, or put any shows of mine on hold, because I feel like that’s what this person wants to happen. He wants everybody to be scared and be afraid. And obviously we need to be strong in times like this, and there’s a place for us to be sad and grieve together and help each other out.

“But at the same time,” he said, “we need to be able to move forward and not let something like this affect our daily lives. Even though it’s ruined a lot of people’s lives.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.