The man pictured in a memorable and heartbreaking photo from the Las Vegas shooting attack scene – who was covering a woman with his own body – has been identified by the U.S. Army as heroic soldier Matthew Cobos.
The Army called Cobos the “epitome of the American soldier” in a tweet.
“#LasVegas shooting #hero has been identified as #USArmy Soldier, Matthew Cobos. He is the epitome of the American Soldier,” the Army wrote.
Many had wondered about the identity of the soldier after the photo of him shielding the still unidentified woman went viral. At least 58 people died during the mass shooting and more than 480 people were injured at the Route 91 concert.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Photo Was Taken by a Photographer Who Was There to Cover the Concert & the Both Cobos & the Woman Lived
Photographer David Becker was in Las Vegas to cover the Route 91 concert for Getty Images. He thought he was going to be photographing a music event, but he ended up chronicling a massacre.
CNN reports that Becker snapped the iconic photo of Cobos and the unidentified woman. Thankfully, it does not appear she was killed in the attack. Cobos also survived the massacre.
“People were fleeing, they were panicking,” Becker said to CNN. “The gunfire was sporadic. It would stop and then more shots, then a lull and then more shots. I could hear people yelling at them to shut off the lights, to be quiet.”
Of the iconic photo, he said, “a man shielded a woman with his body before I saw them both get up and run away,” according to CNN, not, at the time, knowing the man was Cobos.
When people on Facebook asked what happened on a relative’s page, Cobos responded that he was “Right in the middle of it.”
2. Cobos Is a Cavalry Scout in the U.S. Army & He Tried to Cover the Woman’s Eyes So She Wouldn’t See the Horror
According to his Facebook page, Matthew Cobos is a “Cavalry Scout (19D) at U.S. Army” who lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.
His page says that he is from Trabuco Canyon, California, and studied at Tesoro High School.
Cobos’ Facebook page, before the shooting, contained political commentary, including about guns.
According to UK Daily Mail, Cobos “also covered the blonde woman’s eyes in a bid to stop her from seeing the carnage around them. The photo shows the moment his hand attempted to protect her face.”
A friend shared the photo and wrote on Facebook, “Being a veteran is something not a lot of people can say. We don’t do it because it’s cool or because we seek credibility from others; but because not many people are willing to do what it takes. It takes a special and crazy person to smile in the face of adversity. I could not be more proud of fellow Veteran and a guy I’ve had the pleasure of being in a platoon with the entire duration of my military career. Matthew Cobos you’re the epitome of what it means to uphold the Army Values.”
3. After the Photo Was Taken, Cobos Ran Back Into the Line of Fire, Reports Say
Cobos’ heroism didn’t stop with the moment in the photo.
According to Maxim, “After Cobos helped the woman in the photo, he reportedly turned and headed back into the line of fire. There he performed first aid where he could, creating tourniquets and actually stopping blood from bullet holes with his fingers.”
UK Daily Mail reported: “Once Cobos got the woman to safety, he then ran back into the danger zone to help others who had been injured. He is understood to have used his belt as a tourniquet to stop people bleeding and even put his finger in bullet holes of some who had been shot.”
Cobos “has since told family and friends that he could hear and see the bullets ricocheting off the ground in front of him as he ran,” reported Daily Mail.
4. People Are Praising Cobos as a ‘True Hero’ on Social Media
Now that the Army has revealed that he is the man in the photo, Cobos’ Facebook page is filling up with laudatory comments.
“If the story is true about you shielding the anonymous woman from gunfire in Las Vegas then you are a hero. Then you selflessly risked your life to save more human beings. I hope that the woman is able to thank you one day,” wrote one woman.
“Straight up an ALL AMERICAN thank you for all you did. The bravery mixed with the kindness will bring us hope!” wrote another.
“You, my friend, are a true hero. I could not get the picture of you and her out of my mind. It was like my heart needed to know you two were ok. Thank you for your service that night, and every day. ❤️ This world needs more people like you,” another said.
This comment captured how Cobos has come to help symbolize the many heroes from that horrible night: “Seeing that photo brought out a pride in me I had lost for my own country the USA.. There are no words to describe how I felt when I saw that image of you fearlessly protecting that woman.. I also heard you ran back and helped others.. I mean… your the modern day hero.. and I thought America was done making those kind of men…”
5. Many People Acted Heroically During the Horrific Massacre
The gunman, Stephen Paddock, a nondescript retired accountant who had amassed a stockpile of weaponry, murdered at least 58 people and wounded more than 480 from a 32nd floor hotel room perch at the Mandalay Bay.
In the midst of the horror, heroics emerged. In addition to Cobos, the heroes include Jesus Campos, the unarmed security guard at the Mandalay Bay who first approached the killer’s room. Despite being shot by Paddock, Campos continued helping police clear hotel rooms to keep others safe.
People Magazine has a round up of other heroism during the Las Vegas attack.