Cooper Neill, Getty Images
Jake Owen performed at the 2017 Route 91 Harvest Festival right before Jason Aldean‘s set — right before a man opened fire on 22,000 fans watching the show, killing 59 of them and injuring 500 others.
He was backstage as Aldean was singing “When She Says Baby,” and like fans, had to run and find cover when the gunfire started.
“We were in the middle of it,” Owen tells CBS News. “When the shots started being fired, and you could hear it ricocheting off the top of the roof of the stage. We started just running in any direction we could, because you didn’t know where it was coming from.”
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Owen and 20 others hid on the floor of a nearby tour bus while the gunshots continued for what seemed like an endless amount of time. It was a minutes he will never forget.
“Just the fear in everyone’s eyes but yet the feeling of everyone looking for someone to make sure they’re okay, I’ve just never experienced anything like this before,” he says. “I never thought it would be something that would be at a country music concert, something that we do day in and day out, every weekend. There’s families out there. There’s kids on their parents’ shoulders. And that’s not what America’s supposed to be like.”
But while he’s shaken up over Sunday’s (Oct. 1) shooting, Owen will continue to perform concerts, and he’ll continue to join festival lineups, because he feels it’s important to stand up against the hate in the world. He feels it’s important to spread joy through music.
“I think it’s our duty as entertainers out here in the world to stand up [to] this sort of thing,” he said. “They can’t keep us down. We’re not going to live in fear, not going to continue to do this, because I think part of being entertainers is bringing happiness to people.”
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