Hours after Josh Abbott Band left the main stage at Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas Sunday night, the unthinkable happened – instead of enjoying the performances from other friends and peers, the members of the Texas-based collective and their crew were running for their lives or ducking for cover. All are safe and accounted for, but the tragedy has one band member questioning his past stances.
The shooting proved to be a transitional moment for Josh Abbott Band guitarist Caleb Keeter, a “proponent of the Second Amendment” his entire life. “I cannot express how wrong I was,” he posted to Twitter this morning. “We actually have members of our crew with CHL licenses, and legal firearms on the bus. They were useless. We couldn’t touch them for fear police might think we were part of the massacre and shoot us…enough is enough…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.”
— Caleb Keeter (@Calebkeeter) October 2, 2017
Frontman Abbott released an official statement on the band’s Facebook earlier today. “Everyone in our band and crew are safe,” he wrote. “I had just left and was in the Mandalay Bay on the 20th floor with my fiancée during the shooting just a few floors away. The band & crew were on the concert grounds and saw people get shot. Some of my crew members were hit with shrapnel, but not injured. We are deeply disturbed by this horrific act of violence and send our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families. It was a long awful night but we are blessed to be alive and healthy. Hug your loved ones tight.”
Abbott also chronicled some of the chaos from the night before, asking for prayers and eventually informing fans that he and the band were safe. Earlier this morning, he posted about how badly the event had shaken him, saying “I’ll never unhear those gunshots; and our band & crew will never forget how that moment made them feel.”
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
— Josh Abbott (@joshabbottband) October 2, 2017
At least 58 people were killed and more than 500 injured in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, as a shooter opened fire on country music fans assembled outside the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino for the festival.