A guitar player who performed at a Las Vegas country music festival hours before a gunman opened fire on the audience, killing at least 58 people, said Monday the horrific experience prompted him to change his stance on gun control.
Caleb Keeter, the lead guitar player in the Josh Abbott Band, posted a lengthy statement on Twitter saying he’d realized “how wrong I was.” The band played at the Route 91 Harvest Festival Sunday afternoon – hours before Stephen Paddock unleashed a fusillade on the crowd from a 32nd-floor hotel room 1,200 feet away.
“I’ve been a proponent of the 2nd amendment my entire life. Until the events of last night. I cannot express how wrong I was. We actually have members of our crew with (concealed handgun licenses), and legal firearms on the bus,” Keeter wrote.
“They were useless. We couldn’t touch them for fear police might think that we were part of the massacre and shoot us. A small group (or one man) laid waste to a city with dedicated, fearless police officers desperately trying to help, because of access to an insane amount of fire power. Enough is enough.
“Writing my parents and the love of my life a goodbye last night and a living will because I felt like I wasn’t going to live through the night was enough for me to realize that this is completely and totally out of hand. These rounds were powerful enough that my crew guys just standing in a close proximity of a victim shot by this f—ing coward received shrapnel wounds.
“We need gun control RIGHT. NOW.
“My biggest regret is that I stubbornly didn’t realize it until my brothers on the road and myself were threatened by it. We are unbelievably fortunate to not be among the number of victims killed or seriously wounded by this maniac.”
Mass shooting at Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas
The Texas-based Josh Abbott Band also tweeted about the massacre from its main account – but did not address the issue of gun control.
“The rest of the band & crew are home now. Was a long awful night,” the band tweeted.
“I’ll never unhear those gunshots; and our band & crew will never forget how that moment made them feel. Our hearts are with all the victims.”
In a subsequent tweet, Keeter addressed a Twitter user who expressed some frustration that it took a near death experience for the guitarist to change his opinion on gun rights.
“I saw this happening for years and did nothing. But I’d like to do what I can now,” Keeter wrote.