RISP Detective honored for heroism during Las Vegas mass shooting

By: Amanda Pitts



SCITUATE, R.I. (WLNE) – A Rhode Island State Police Detective received the division’s highest honor Thursday morning for his heroic actions during the country’s largest mass shooting.

Detective Conor O’Donnell, an eight-year veteran with the Rhode Island State Police, was in the wrong place at the right time two years ago, when a gunman opened fire on the crowd at the Route 91 Music Festival in Las Vegas.

Instead of running for cover, O’Donnell ran towards the gunshots.

“The gunman’s rifle shots were ricocheting off the ground and striking the area where Detective O’Donnell and his fiancé, Ester, were standing,” said RISP Colonel James Manni.

O’Donnell moved his fiance to safety, then pulled multiple victims from the crowd to a makeshift triage center, and even helped a woman in a leg cast to safety.

One victim had bullet wounds to his leg. O’Donnell made a tourniquet with his belt and shoelaces. That man, a fellow officer, credits O’Donnell for saving his life.

In a ceremony Thursday, O’Donnell was presented the Rhode Island State Police Service Ribbon for his heroism, an honor only 25 troopers have been awarded.

“A highly trained, very squared away young man, that my wife and I and my sons are very proud of.”

O’Donnell’s father, retired State Police Colonel Steven O’Donnell, recounted what it was like to get that call.

“He told me he was safe but then we lost touch with him for about an hour and so that was heart-wrenching, watching it unfold on television and not knowing.”

While he said he’s not very emotional, it was a special moment to watch his son receive such an honor.

“We recognize people who passed away, but it’s a really powerful message when we have people that survived that we honor also,” said Steven O’Donnell.

© WLNE-TV 2019