Mandalay Bay shooting hero Jesus Campos was pressured into giving his only interview to Ellen DeGeneres because the giant company that owns the Las Vegas casino feared he would spill the beans about the shooting timeline if he was grilled by real journalists, DailyMail.com has learned exclusively.
MGM is worried that families of the 58 people murdered as well as many of the 546 injured in the Mandalay Bay massacre will launch lawsuits potentially worth billions of dollars against the company, sources tell DailyMail.com.
And they thought Campos might not keep his story straight under the pressure of the TV lights and tough questioning.
That is why Campos, 25, appeared on a daytime chat show hosted by a fast-talking, dancing comedienne, rather than take questions from TV hardhitters such as Fox News’ Sean Hannity, NBC News or ABC News.
‘MGM was behind the decision to call off all the interviews and did a deal with Ellen, knowing she would not play hardball on the timeline as long as she had the exclusive,’ a TV insider told DailyMail.com.
Campos had originally agreed to do five interviews, all on Thursday last week, but suddenly went missing, his union boss, who was helping set up the deal, told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.
David Hickey, president of the Michigan-based International Union, Security Police and Fire Professionals of America, would not confirm that MGM was behind the decision, but said the company certainly influenced Campos.
‘I was in a meeting with MGM’s upper management and they were definitely concerned about how tough someone like Hannity would be on him and they voiced their opinions,’ Hickey said.
He said all sides had agreed parameters for the interviews. ‘Everyone knew he wasn’t to talk about security protocols, staffing or training or give out names of employees.’
But he said the company — that, like most of Vegas’s casino industry, obsessively controls what employees are allowed to say to the media — was pressuring Campos not to give too much away.
‘I thought they were being negative, telling him that someone was going to be tough and how they were worried about his health — it wasn’t the thing he needed to hear four hours before the interviews were going to begin.’
Hickey said he met with the MGM executives at a location in Las Vegas where Campos was staying. They met in the living room but he wanted a word with some of the management team in private so they went into the bedroom.
When they returned, Campos had gone, and Hickey said he hasn’t seen or heard from him since.
The next thing he knew the security official had bailed on the five interviews. Then he learned on Monday that instead of appearing on a news show he would go on Ellen.
‘It certainly wasn’t my choice that he should appear on that circus,’ Hickey told DailyMail.com.
MGM has not returned requests for comment.
Since Wednesday’s show, DeGeneres has been attacked for failing to ask Campos any incisive questions about the timeline of the shooting.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo has given three different versions of the events since the October 1 massacre.
Instead of asking Campos and fellow hotel worker Steven Schuck about how the deadly event unfolded, DeGeneres talked instead about their favorite pro football teams and gave a shout-out to a company that had promised Campos a season ticket to the Raiders when the team moves to Las Vegas in 2019 or 2020.
Fox News said the interview ‘did nothing to quell rampant speculation and rumors surrounding the horrific attack.’ The Las Vegas Review Journal said: ‘If this really was Campos’s only media appearance, he couldn’t have chosen a more welcoming atmosphere — or had one chosen for him.’
The New York Daily News said the interview ‘revealed little more than what was already known about the massacre’s evolving timeline,’ adding: ‘Questions lingered about when Campos was shot, when he alerted the hotel to the gunfire — and whether his injuries saved more lives or hastened the attack.’
Campos has hidden from journalists since he was revealed as the unwitting hero who took a bullet to the leg. Curtains at his single-story home in a residential area east of The Strip have remained tightly drawn and the front yard is plastered with No Trespassing signs with the hand-written message ‘No Media On Property.’
During the interview, DeGeneres, 59, explained that Campos had decided to do just the one interview because he doesn’t want to ‘relive’ the shooting.
When he went through his recollection of the night, she did not press him to clarify some of the lingering questions about the official timeline — such as whether he or hotel officials delayed calling police for six minutes after he was shot.
If that version is proven to be true, it could open MGM to massive costs from lawsuits.
According to Lombardo’s first timeline, Campos was shot by Paddock after he stopped firing at the music festival across the street.
MGM, took issue with police when they revised the timeline last week — saying that Campos was shot before Paddock started shooting at the music festival, but that six minutes passed before police were first alerted to the shooting — insinuating that either Campos or the hotel delayed calling police.
Police revised the timeline again last Friday, saying that Campos was shot at 10:05pm and immediately called in, just as Paddock started firing at the festival below.
On Ellen, Campos explained that he was first sent to the 32nd floor because of a stairwell door that wasn’t opening. He arrived via the stairs and found that the door wouldn’t budge. So he went back down to the 31st floor and rode the elevator up to the 32nd floor, where he saw that the door had been secured shut with a metal brace.
Campos said he heard ‘drilling’ sounds, so he thought a maintenance team might be working on a project.
After calling the issue into maintenance, Campos started walking down the hall away from the door when he says Paddock started shooting at him through the door of his suite, number 32-135, located just to the right of the stairwell door.
‘I heard rapid fire,’ Campos recalled. ‘At first I took cover. I felt a burning sensation. I went to go lift my pant leg up and I saw the blood and that’s when I called it in on my radio.’
While that recollection lines up with the newest timeline, Ellen didn’t ask him anything about the prior conflicting timelines.
Police believe Paddock was tipped off to Campos’s arrival due to security cameras the gunman had rigged in the hallway.
They say he fired 200 gunshots through the door at Campos before opening fire at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival across the street. He had broken two windows in the suite to get his shots off at the crowd below.
As Campos took cover, maintenance worker Stephen Schuck arrived on the floor to see about the door issue.
Schuck, 22, accompanied Campos on Ellen and credits the security guard with saving his life.
‘Jesus, he leaned out and he said “take cover, take cover!” and yelled at me and within milliseconds…if he didn’t say that I would have got hit,’ Schuck said.
Campos also said he saved another life amid the chaos. As Paddock was shooting, a guest came out of her room and he said he yelled at her to get back in.
During the interview, Campos appeared shy and quiet.
DeGeneres told him: ‘I know you’ve had so many people asking for you to tell the story and talk about it and I understand your reluctance. You’re talking about it now and you’re not going to talk about it again.
‘I don’t blame you. Why relive it over and over?’
When asked how he is coping, Campos said: ‘I’m doing better each day. Slowly but surely, just healing physically and mentally.’
Ellen said she invited him on her show because she ‘wanted to celebrate’ Campos’ heroism.
‘It’s helpful for people to understand what a hero you are because you being shot in the leg saved so many people’s lives. Instead of you getting out of there, you saved Stephen’s life and that woman’s life,’ she said.
At the end of the interview, Ellen said that both Campos and Schuck had turned down her offers of money, so instead, Shutterfly, a sponsor of the show, was donating $25,000 to the Las Vegas Victim’s Fund on their behalf. When she presented the two with a large check, Campos began to tear up.
DeGeneres made sure that the two didn’t leave empty handed. The NFL offered to fly Schuck out to see his favorite team, the Indianapolis Colts, while Shutterfly is paying for Campos’ season tickets when the Raiders move to Las Vegas.
As the interview was wrapping up, Campos took a moment to thank the people who came together and helped end the shooting and who tended to victims.
‘Everyone came together to help that night even in the darkest hour,’ he said.