Here's the true story behind this viral photo of cowboy boots from the Las Vegas shooting

Alex Lasker, AOL.com

The owner of a pair of cowboy boots seen in a viral photo taken after the Las Vegas shooting on Sunday night has been identified. 

When Stephen Vicelja went to the Route 91 Harvest music festival with friends, he had no idea the shoes he was wearing would become an iconic image of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Vicelja told KCAL9 that when he first heard gunshots ring out during Jason Aldean's performance at the festival, he thought the sound was merely fireworks.

The South Torrance High School student admitted he didn't actually realize what was going on until he was struck in the leg with a bullet.

Here's what we know about the Las Vegas shooter

In sheer terror, Vicelja took off running and eventually sat down on a curb once he safely escaped the venue, where a stranger helped him remove his now-famous boots in order to tend to his wound.

"It was pretty amazing to see how many people were helping all those people sitting on the curb," Vicelja told the station.

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After he returned home from the hospital, Vicelja says he saw an image of his star-spangled footwear on social media and immediately recognized the scene.

He said that he views the boots as a symbol of his own survival, but acknowledged the 59 victims of the deadly shooting, including his classmate Christiana Duarte, who were not as lucky as he was.

The teen still hopes he will be reunited with his cowboy boots. 

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