Laurie Beaton was at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on Sunday with her husband, Jack, celebrating their 23rd wedding anniversary when they heard what sounded like firecrackers. Like everyone around her, she was looking around to see who was lighting them when she felt something like air rush past her arm.
‘‘I’ve never experienced gunshots but when I felt air go right past my arm I told my husband, ‘I don’t think that’s fireworks,’ ” she said in a telephone interview from her home in Bakersfield, Calif.
‘‘He told me, ‘Get down, get down, get down,’ ’’ and put his own body on top of hers for protection, she said. ‘‘He told me, ‘I love you, Laurie,’ and his arms were around me and his body just went heavy on me.’’
Suddenly, she knew her husband had been shot. ‘‘I screamed his name and he wasn’t answering me, there was a lot of blood,’’ she said.
Another man, someone who told her he was a nurse and an EMT, ran up and told her to put her husband on his side. Helping, she saw blood and heard her husband struggling to breathe.
As quickly as the shooting stopped it started again and now, with lights on, the man told one of the husband’s friends who attended the festival with them to take the women to safety.
‘‘So we ran,’’ she said.
Later, friends told Laurie Beaton her husband wasn’t on the ground anymore. ‘‘He had been moved so we were optimistic that he’d received help,’ she said.
Calls to hospitals in search of Jack Beaton turned up nothing. Eventually she called the coroner’s office, which said her husband was among the dead.
On Tuesday morning she was back home, trying both to comfort a 20-year-old son and an 18-year-old daughter who had just lost their father.
Beaton said her husband, a 54-year-old construction worker, wouldn’t want much said publicly about his death. But she wanted people to hear how he had protected her, just as he always had done.
‘‘I knew every day that he would protect me and take care of me and love me unconditionally, and what he did is no surprise to me, and he is my hero,’’ she said.