Renee Cesario was like thousands of others who visited the Route 91 Harvest Festival on October 1st this year– she wanted to let loose with friends and enjoy her favorite country music artists.
But only 2 hours before Jason Aldean, the last performer of the night, took the stage, Renee met Brendan. The two left her friends in one part of the crowd and made their way to the front of the audience, near the stage.
Renee recounted the moments the event took a horrifying turn. “We were just dancing and having fun and then all of the sudden there were loud noises that sounded like fireworks, but no lights were going off.”
When her acquaintance Brendan realized what was happening, he pushed Renee to the ground and protected her, covering her body with his. “Before I knew what was going on, Brendan tackled me down to the ground and covered me from the fire. It stopped again and he looked around to see what was happening and then it just kept going. He looked at me and said ‘We have to get out of here. We can’t stay here. It’s not safe.”
Though they barely knew each other, Brendan protected Renee, pulled her away from the crowd and took her running to safety.
It turns out that Brendan is a Marine. When he heard the shots ring out, he acted on his training and got Renee to safety. He made sure she could use his phone to keep in touch with her sister, so her family wouldn’t be worried.
“The whole night he didn’t leave my side,” Renee said.
Jenn, Renee’s sister, later wrote to Brendan to thank him for taking care of Renee during those terrifying moments. He responded, “Absolutely, that’s what we do, take care of our own and those around us. Glad I could be there for her in that crazy time.”
Jenn Cesario wrote on Facebook, “Epitome of a hero… God was really watching out for my little sister. I’m still in shock. It hurts my heart that other people’s family member didn’t make it! I can’t even imagine..💔”