MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — He went to Las Vegas for his honeymoon, but ended up making news for what he did the night of a music festival massacre.
Minneapolis Park Police Officer Justin Brown was off-duty visiting a Las Vegas bar when the shots began. What he did next got the attention from of the biggest names in country music.
Only on WCCO, he talked about the chaotic moments, and the people he calls the real heroes from that horrific night.
The September wedding could not have been more beautiful in Minnesota.
“Everything went off without a hitch,” Brittney Brown said. “It was the best day.”
The new couple were unaware of the heartbreak and confusion to come two days later.
Brittney and Justin Brown had planned to honeymoon in tropical weather when the hurricane season hit. Instead, they ended up on a plane to Las Vegas.
“Our plan was to go to the concert,” Brittney said.
They had intentions to attend the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival. But the Browns opted last minute for a more low-key Sunday night on The Strip, when they ended up at Redneck Riviera. It is a bar they didn’t know belonged to John Rich, of Big and Rich fame.
The duo had just finished at the festival before taking their tour bus two miles away for the surprise stop.
“The bar was packed. I mean, everyone was having a great time,” Justin said.
The mood changed less than an hour later. John Rich stopped the music to say The Strip was under attack by possible active shooters and bomb threats.
“It was kind of chaotic inside that bar, especially not knowing where any threats were,” Justin said.
He had decided not to travel with his gun on this trip and spoke up.
“I asked if anyone was armed in the building, and John Rich said, ‘Yes sir, I am armed,'” Justin said. “And I said, ‘I’m an off-duty police officer, if you guys have any extra guns I sure would appreciate one and I could help out.'”
He kept watch at the door for two hours, as customers sat locked inside. His new bride, a 911 dispatcher, checked the well-being of bar staff as some struggled to connect with friends still at the festival.
“I was very calm. That’s what we’re trained to do,” Brittney said.
The Browns say it’s the first responders who saved people outside Mandalay Bay who deserve the real praise. Their bravery showed itself on a dark moment in history, and on a honeymoon.
“One of my supervisors said, ‘You were a cop in a place that they needed a cop,” Justin said. “Any of my partners I know they would’ve been stepping up and doing the same exact thing.”
Justin has forged a friendship with John Rich since that night. The Browns appreciate all he does for military and law enforcement members.
In a statement to WCCO, John Rich said he was thankful Officer Brown was there and willing to jump into action.
The country star also said he has a concealed carry permit, and was happy he had his weapon that night.