In his first televised interview since the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, country star Jason Aldean recounted his experience performing onstage as gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on the festival’s crowd of 22,000 — killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more.

Reflecting back on what is now the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, Jason, 40, told the Today show that “it was just panic.” According to the “Lights Come On” crooner, he initially thought the “crackling” from the gunshots was from a blown speaker. “When it first happened, I thought a speaker had blown is what I thought,” he said. “It just sounded like a crackling something and so, I’m kind of looking around like, ‘What is that?’”

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(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

The sound stopped momentarily — but when it started up again (this time, for a much longer period), Jason was understandably disturbed. “I was actually kind of getting aggravated, so I looked over at my monitor guy that’s on the side of the stage as if to say, ‘What is that? And fix it,’” he explained. “And so, when I turned to look, my guitar player had run behind me and was telling me to move, like, ‘Let’s go.’ And my security guy was running on stage telling me to run.”

While he and his bandmates escaped unharmed, Jason was aware of the chaos that his fans were caught in mid-attack. “Everybody was scrambling,” he described. “I think everybody just kind of panicked and didn’t really know where to go or what to do.”

More than a month after the massacre, Jason is doing his best to heal from he trauma. However, he knows that he will never be able to shake the memory of that terrifying night. “For me, this is something that obviously we’re all gonna try to move on and I have to do that as well. But it’s something that I’ll never forget,” the dad-of-two — who shares daughters Keeley, 14, and Kendyl, 10, with ex-wife Jessica Aldean — told Today. “I just hope everybody can start to heal. And some of the stuff you never get over, but I hope it gets better for everybody as time goes on.”

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