The victims of Las Vegas: Remembering their lives
Fifty-eight people died in the attack on the Route 91 Harvest festival. Here are their stories
The night began as a celebration. Thousands gathered in Las Vegas for one last night of song at a long-awaited country-music festival. They had driven in from towns all over California. They had flown in from Alaska, Tennessee, West Virginia. They were teachers, police officers, secretaries, retirees.
Many had planned for weeks, even months, this weekend of relaxation. Some came with elaborate plans amid the music: a reunion with old friends, a wedding anniversary, even a marriage proposal.
Then came gunfire: sudden and rapid and seemingly endless. When it was over, 58 people had been killed and hundreds more injured, making the attack at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on October 1st one of the deadliest mass shootings in United States history. The victims included 36 women and 22 men. The oldest was 67, the youngest 20.
Here are the stories of the people who died.
Hannah Ahlers, a 34-year-old mother of three, grew up listening to country music and was a huge fan. She went to the concert on Sunday with her husband, Brian Ahlers, whom she had met in high school. They had been married 17 years, and lived in Beaumont, California. Her brother, Lance Miller, confirmed Ms Ahlers’s death. Her family described her as having “loved life and people”. “She was our sunshine,” they said in a statement. She was a homemaker, an active member in her children’s schools and community, and was very involved with extracurricular activities, including her daughter’s volleyball team. “She wasn’t too good for anybody,” Mr Ahlers said in the statement. “Beautiful, inside and out.”
Heather Alvarado, a wife and mother of three from Utah, had travelled with her family to attend the concert in Las Vegas. The police said she died after being injured in the shooting. “It is with heavy hearts that we acknowledge the passing of Heather Warino Alvarado, wife of Cedar City firefighter Albert Alvarado,” Sgt Jerry Womack, a spokesman for the police department in Cedar City, Utah, said in a statement. A GoFundMe campaign set up for Ms Alvarado’s family described the 35-year-old as a wife, mother, sister, friend and “so much more”. She was “always the first to help out,” the page said, and “anyone she comes across she makes them feel like family.”
Dorene Anderson of Anchorage loved ice hockey. Or at least she loved the Alaska Aces, a minor-league team whose fans were known for ringing cowbells painted with the Aces insignia to show their support during games. “Dorene was our treasurer of the cowbell crew this past year and a wonderful, generous person who was a friend to many,” wrote Marie English, a fellow fan, on the fan club’s Facebook page. She was also “the most amazing wife, mother and person this world ever had”, her husband, John Anderson, wrote in a statement issued by his employer, the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. He and his family members, Mr Anderson wrote, are grieving. So are Aces fans, who are holding a candlelight vigil for Ms Anderson on Tuesday at the Sullivan Arena, where the Aces (who are moving to Maine) have played. “We ask you wear an Aces jersey, cowbell crew shirt, or anything cowboys-related,” read a post on the fan page. “Bring your cowbell.”
With a small inheritance from her grandparents, whom she had helped care for during long illnesses, Carrie Barnette, who was 34, last year bought a home in Riverside, California. It was a personal milestone for the Disney food service employee. A music-festival aficionado of sorts, she had posted video of parts of this country-music concert to Facebook, and noted that she was having more fun in Las Vegas than she had at Stagecoach, a California festival. “That was Carrie,” a cousin, Janice Chambers, said. “She just liked to go out and do things.” “We mourn a wonderful member of the Disney family: Carrie Barnette,” Disney’s chief executive, Robert Iger, said on Twitter on Monday night. Ms Barnette worked as a cook at the Pacific Wharf Cafe, a waterfront restaurant at a Disney park in Anaheim, and was the proud owner of a basset hound, Lucy. “O.K. everybody I just entered Lucy in this,” she posted on Facebook last month, of a calendar contest to raise money for a local animal shelter. “I really hope she can win and make the cover.”
In the last photo that Jack Beaton posted on his Facebook page on Sunday evening, his companions can be seen lounging on the grass, holding beers and smiling at the camera, lights from the country music festival twinkling in the background. “Day Three Route 91 Vegas!” he wrote in the caption. Hours later Mr Beaton, of Bakersfield, California, was killed while shielding his wife, Laurie, from gunfire, his family said. His father-in-law, Jerry Cook, told BakersfieldNow.com that Mr. Beaton had covered his wife’s body with his own, and was shot. “He told her he loved her,” he said. “Laurie could tell he was slipping. She told him she loved him and she would see him in heaven.” Mr Beaton was gregarious and always helping other people, a family man who adored driving his truck with his hat on sideways, Mr Cook said. Mr Beaton’s son, Jake, paid tribute to his father on Facebook. “Lost my best friend,” he wrote. “I love you so much more than you could ever imagine. Please watch over our family. You will forever be remembered as our hero!”
Whatever Steve Berger did, he always seemed to be at the top of his game. He was an all-star high-school basketball player in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, his father, Richard Berger, told MPR News, and went on to play for St Olaf College in Minnesota. In 2007 his friend Josh Decker brought him to EFS Advisors, a company in Cambridge, Minnesota, where he would spend the last 10 years and earn accolades from Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business. As a financial adviser “Steve was able to touch thousands of lives, enhancing the ability of his clients to retire earlier and/or in a better financial position”, the company said in a statement confirming his death. Mr Berger had three children, between the ages of eight and 15, and was in Las Vegas to celebrate his 44th birthday. The week before, he and his father had spoken about his bet on the Wisconsin-Northwestern football game, his father told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I said, ‘Steve, be careful,’” his father recalled.
On Sunday night, Candice Bowers, who was 40, was taking a rare weekend away from her home and responsibilities in Orange County, California, listening to music with a friend at the Jason Aldean concert. When the gunfire began Ms Bowers and her friend dove under a table, then became separated in the chaos, her grandmother, Patricia Zacker, told the Orange County Register. Ms Bowers was fatally shot, relatives said, leaving behind three children and a large extended family. “Candice left this world doing what she loved, dancing to country music among loved ones,” a GoFundMe page begun for her children said. “She will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.”
Denise Salmon Burditus
Whenever Tony Burditus was away from Denise Salmon Burditus, his wife of 32 years, she sent him selfies, nearly always featuring one of her big, broad smiles. “I can’t say enough – her smile,” Mr Burditus, of Martinsburg, West Virginia, said in an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN. “If I was out of town or something I would get a selfie, on her way to the gym, or on her way to school. I would get a huge smile,” he said. “If I didn’t get it, I would text her back and she would send me one back with a smile.” That same smile beamed from a photo she and her husband took together in front of the music festival stage, not long before the shooting. She posted the photograph on Facebook. As the shooting began, Mr Burditus said, the couple mistook the sound as pyrotechnics. “We stood there for a second, and she asked me if it was gunfire, and I told her, ‘No.’ And then it was during the second burst that we knew,” Mr Burditus said. They tried to get away. “I was leading her through the crowd,” he said. But she was shot, and Mr. Burditus said he “immediately knew her wound was fatal. She was unconscious from the time she was struck.”
Over the course of a carefree weekend in Las Vegas they kept bumping into one another around the festival: at least a half dozen teachers, principals and school psychologists who worked for the Manhattan Beach school district in southern California, taking a brief escape from their responsibilities to listen to live music. The school district said on Monday that Sandy Casey, a 35-year-old special-education teacher originally from Vermont, was killed in the shooting. The other staff members from the district were physically unharmed. Ms Casey taught middle school and had worked for the district for nine years, an energetic person who delighted in her students, the superintendent, Mike Matthews, said. “She was a person who brings light wherever she is,” he said. “She has a classroom full of light and hope and caring.” Ms Casey’s fiance, Chris Willemse, an instructional assistant for the district, was with Ms Casey in Las Vegas. He wrote on Facebook: “As I sit and mourn such a beautiful life gone too fast, all I can say is look up and watch the birds fly high and free today, as that’s where I feel you smiling down upon all of us. I love you baby girl! Love you to pieces!”
It seemed like the Route 91 Harvest Festival would be the perfect place for Andrea Castilla, a sales associate at Sephora in Huntington Beach, California, to celebrate her 28th birthday. Her sister, Athena, would be there with her fiance, and Andrea and her boyfriend, Derek Miller, decided to join them. And there was to be a surprise, according to People.com: Mr Miller had been planning to propose. He never had the chance. Ms Castilla was killed in the attack, according to a text message from her aunt, Marina Castilla Parker, who posted photos to Facebook of Ms Castilla beaming at the festival with her sister and their partners. In an interview with People, Athena Castilla said she and her fiance tried to keep Ms Castilla from being stepped on after she fell. Athena said that strangers had helped put Andrea into the back of a truck for the drive to the hospital. “I was holding on to her head and trying to keep her from losing so much blood, talking to her, kissing her, telling her she was going to make it,” Athena Castilla said. “We all did our best to help her get through it. We did the best we could.”
Denise Cohen, who was 58, was “a giving woman”, her sons said through their stepmother, Sandi Perry-Rees. “She loved life, and she liked to live life to the fullest.” Ms Cohen, who lived in Carpinteria, California, near Santa Barbara, had worked for Team HOA, a division of McFarland Financial that focused on homeowner association accounting. “She made a permanent and lasting mark on my life,” her best friend, Leana Orsua, wrote on a GoFundMe page for Ms Cohen’s sons, Jeff and Brandon. “There is no one who could ever replace her. She was not just my best friend, but she was my family. I hope she knows how much she was loved.” She was at the music festival with her boyfriend, Derrick Taylor, who also died.
Austin Davis, a 29-year-old pipe fitter from Riverside, California, made the trip to Las Vegas with Thomas Day jnr, a softball buddy who also died. The two played “fast-pitch softball” together, Berta Garcia, the coed director for USA Softball of Southern California, told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. “Tom kind of guided him.” A member of the United Association, the union representing pipe fitters, Mr Davis “had a swing like no other”, another softball friend said. After the shooting Mr Davis’s girlfriend, Aubree Hennigan, had posted urgent pleas for help on social media as she and his parents sought news of his whereabouts. Before receiving confirmation of his death, she wrote on Facebook: “My everything … Please come home to us.” A “Homerun Derby” was being planned, in honour of Mr Davis and Mr Day. “I will be there for my man and I would love to see everyone,” Ms Hennigan wrote.
Thomas Day jnr
Thomas Day jnr, who was 54, was a contractor who worked in a branch of his father’s home-building business in Corona, California. He had travelled to Las Vegas to attend the concert with three of his grown children and a group of friends. His father, Thomas Day snr, said he received a call from his grandson late on Sunday: the three adult children and the friends were in hiding, the grandson said, but Mr Day had been shot in the head. The elder Mr Day, who lives in Las Vegas, said his son, who was divorced, was a “great dad” who often attended concerts with his children. He had not been able to see the body or bury his son. “They still have him,” he said.
Christiana Duarte had a gorgeous singing voice. And the 22-year-old was much like her parents, a family friend, Danette Meyers, said. “She was very giving.” Ms Duarte had gone to the country-music festival with her brother’s girlfriend, Ariel Romero. Both women were shot, Ms Meyers said. Ms Romero had been through surgery and was expected to recover, Ms Meyers said, but Ms Duarte had not survived. Ms Duarte’s father, Michael, is a long-time employee of the Los Angeles prosecutor’s office, where he has regularly consoled the victims of crimes and their families, she said. Now his own family was wrestling with loss. “I can’t tell you how this has hit all of us,” Ms Meyers said. “This is just unbelievable. This senseless, violent act is just killing us all.”
After the first round of shots Stacee Etcheber’s husband, Vincent, told her to run, he told family members. An off-duty officer with San Francisco police department, he stayed behind to try to help. Then the second round came. Mr Etcheber’s father, Jean, who was babysitting the couple’s two children, 10 and 12, at their Novato, California, home, said the family was given confirmation of Ms Etcheber’s death on Monday night. Ms Etcheber, who was 50, was a hairdresser whose Facebook profile picture shows her working on her beach handstand next to her daughter. “Please pray for our family during this difficult time,” Ms Etcheber’s brother-in-law, Al Etcheber, wrote on Facebook on Tuesday morning.
Brian Fraser, who was 39, was in his element at the Jason Aldean concert on Sunday night, his family said. He had just moved closer to the stage in the hope that his favourite song, Dirt Road Anthem, was coming soon. Moments later he was fatally shot. His companions – his wife, Stephanie, and other family members and friends – survived. “A bigger-than-life man taken far too soon,” his sisters-in-law wrote on a GoFundMe page. “Brian was a rock of love and support to his family.” A vice-president of sales for Greenpath, a mortgage firm, Mr Fraser lived in La Palma, California, and graduated from California Polytechnic State University. “Brian Fraser impacted everyone who crossed his path with his infectious positive energy, his tenacious will to succeed, and his willingness to help others,” his employer said in a statement.
Keri Galvan, of Thousand Oaks, California, had three children, and they were her world. On her Instagram page she called herself a “super tired super mama of 3”. On Facebook she posted a photograph of herself standing next to a new Lexus SUV, and wrote: “New baby to accommodate allllllllll the babies.” “They always went to Disneyland together,” Isaac Galvan, her father-in-law, said. “She was just a great mother.” The children are 10, four and two, according to a GoFundMe page set up by Ms Galvan’s sister, Lindsey Poole. Ms Galvan, who had worked for a decade as a server at Mastro’s Steakhouse in Thousand Oaks, attended the music festival in Las Vegas with her husband, Justin Galvan, and some of their friends. “Her days started and ended with doing everything in her power to be a wonderful mother,” Ms Poole said.
Dana Gardner, the deputy recorder of San Bernardino County, California, began working for the county 26 years ago as a document clerk, a county spokesman, David Wert, said in an email. Ms Gardner, who was 52, was “known for her ‘can-do’ attitude and vibrant energy”, Bob Dutton, the county’s assessor, recorder and clerk, wrote on Facebook. “Everybody here is still in shock,” Mr Dutton told the San Bernardino Sun. “They’re waiting for her to walk through the door.” In a Facebook message Kayla Gardner, Dana Gardner’s daughter, said: “She spent our whole childhood making sacrifices and doing anything and everything she could for us.” She added later: “As we got older and became adults, for the first time in her life she stopped worrying about taking care of us and started to take care of herself. She started traveling, spending time with her friends, and enjoying her life the way she wanted. As her children, it was so enjoyable to see her so vibrant and full of life, and that is how we will always remember her.”
When the daughter of Angela Gomez’s cheerleading coach died four years ago, Ms. Gomez was quick to appear at the coach’s door to offer her sympathies. In an interview with The Press-Enterprise, her coach from Riverside Polytechnic High School, Lupe Avila, recalled Ms. Gomez, 20, as “one of the most genuine and loyal people you could ever meet.” Ms Gomez, a nursing student from Riverside, California, was in Las Vegas with her boyfriend when the shooting began. Her boyfriend survived, but Ms Gomez, known as Angie, did not.
Rocio Guillen and her fiance, Christopher Jaksha, left their two children with Mr Jaksha’s parents for some rare time alone: a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Each night they were away they made video calls to say goodnight, blowing kisses at Sophia, 17 months, and Austin, who was born in August, said Mr Jaksha’s mother, Donna. “We Facetimed all weekend,” Ms Jaksha said. “We would say ‘Look, it’s Mommy and Daddy. Look at the cowboy hats.’” Ms Guillen, who was 40, was shot in the thigh as she ran from the shooting with Mr Jaksha. She was placed in a police car, and an officer applied a tourniquet, but she did not survive. The couple met when they worked at a Chili’s restaurant as managers. They shared a home in Eastvale, California, and both worked at California Pizza Kitchen restaurants nearby as they planned for their wedding. Ms Guillen has two sons from a previous marriage, according to Ms Jaksha. “I already considered her to be my daughter-in-law,” Ms Jaksha said.
Charleston Hartfield, a 34-year-old off-duty Las Vegas metropolitan police department officer who died in the attack, had written a book not long ago. Memoirs of a Public Servant, published in July, focused on his day-to-day work, his time on the force and his interactions on the streets of Las Vegas. “Every time you talked to him your life would be better,” said Stan King, a friend whose son played football on a team, the Henderson Cowboys, that Officer Hartfield had coached. “You wished you were 10 percent of what that guy was.” Officer Hartfield, who had served on the police force for 11 years, was memorialised in a candlelight vigil attended by hundreds. Fellow officers and friends remembered the man they called Charlie or Coach Chucky, or even, occasionally, “Captain America”, as knowledgeable and experienced, a patriot and a wit. “I know that none of us here really planned on saying goodbye to Charlie so soon, but I’m glad we get to send him off in our way, not somebody else’s way,” said Steve Grammas, the president of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association.
Chris Hazencomb, who was 44 and from Camarillo, California, had a modest birthday celebration with his mother, Maryanne Hazencomb, last Wednesday. They ran errands, picked up fried chicken and, as they did every Wednesday, watched an episode of The Little Couple that Mr Hazencomb had recorded the previous day. The mother and son had always lived together, and worked in tandem to care for Mr Hazencomb’s father, who was ill for a decade before he died. Mr Hazencomb had something to look forward to, as well: the Route 91 Harvest music festival, which he was attending with his best friend’s wife. (The best friend, it turned out, hated country music.) Ms Hazencomb got the news on Sunday night. Mr Hazencomb had been shot in the head. Ms Hazencomb rushed to Sunrise Hospital, in Las Vegas, leaving Camarillo at 3am. Mr Hazencomb was on a ventilator, Ms Hazencomb said, and officials told her he would not survive. “He looked like he was sleeping,” Ms Hazencomb said. Members of her extended family gathered in the hospital room. After getting last rites from the Catholic Church, he was taken off life support. Ms Hazencomb said her son had died shielding his best friend’s wife from bullets. “He’d give you the shirt off his back,” Ms Hazencomb said.
Jennifer Irvine, who was 42, built her own legal practice in San Diego, specialising in family law. But there was also time for hobbies like snowboarding and Taekwondo – and for her friends and country music. “She did go to a lot of concerts,” Jason Irvine, Jennifer’s brother, said, as he waited at the Las Vegas Convention Center to pick up her belongings. Ms Irvine had attended the festival in Las Vegas with a group of girlfriends, some of whom had posted pictures of their group, wearing jean shorts and cowboy boots, grinning in front of the festival banner. “She was there with three other friends who were able to leave when it started, but unfortunately Jennifer was not one of those who was able to leave,” Mr Irvine said.
Jessica Klymchuk, a 34-year-old from the Canadian province of Alberta, had been visiting Las Vegas with her boyfriend, the Globe and Mail reported. She was a school librarian, a bus driver and the mother of four children.
Late on Sunday afternoon Carly Kreibaum’s Facebook page showed the smiling proof of a girls’ weekend in full swing: a picture of Ms Kreibaum with two friends at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas –a cafe, canal and gondolas in the background. At the concert that evening Ms Kreibaum, a 33-year-old mother of two from Sutherland, Iowa, was fatally shot, a family member said. Her friends survived. Back in northwest Iowa her small community of 600 has been in mourning for Ms Kreibaum, who studied art education at Wayne State College in Nebraska and worked at Walmart. She lived with her husband, Chris, and their children, Dalten and Cambri, on a farm just outside town, according to the Des Moines Register. On Facebook on Tuesday Mr Kreibaum thanked family and friends for their support, saying he was en route to Las Vegas. A local church set up a fund for donations for the Kreibaum family, and on Wednesday evening it opened up the church, inviting those who wanted to talk, pray or deal with their grief.
Nicol Kimura, who was 38 and lived in Placentia, California, was part of a close-knit group of 16 friends who always spent time together, said one of the people in that group, Ryan Miller. To the children of those friends Ms Kimura was simply Auntie Nicol, he said – a playmate who was eager to host tea parties, color with them and craft. “Just a beaming light,” Mr Miller said in a telephone interview on Thursday night. Seven of the friends went to the concert in Las Vegas; they had already been to several other concerts this year, but they were especially excited to attend the weekend’s Route 91 Harvest Festival, Mr Miller said. The group of friends was together when shots first rang out, Mr Miller said. Soon everyone had hit the ground. As the gunfire continued another friend, six or seven metres away, yelled out that Ms Kimura had been hurt; she was bleeding from her side. “We couldn’t pull her to safety,” Mr Miller said.
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Rhonda LeRocque flew down with other members of her church to help the victims. At home in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, her sister told the Boston Globe, she showed the same kindness and devotion to her husband, Jason, and their six-year-old daughter. The three were together at the Route 91 festival when the shooting began. Ms LeRocque was active in her local Jehovah’s Witnesses church and worked for the design company Ideo, which confirmed her death in a Facebook post. “For more than 10 years she cared for her work family at IDEO Cambridge with the same warmth, love and devotion she showed everyone in her life,” the company wrote. “Nobody helped us build community quite like Rhonda.”
When Victor Link, of Orange County, California, was struck by gunfire he had his own rescue crew right beside him. “Rob, his best friend, who is a firefighter and a paramedic, picked my son up and carried him to a safer place and tried to resuscitate him,” Mr Link’s father, Loyd, said on Tuesday. “But it didn’t happen.” The 52-year-old worked in the financial-services industry and lived with his partner, Lynne Gonzales. He had a son, Christian, from a previous marriage, his father said. “My son took a bullet to the chest.”
Jordan McIldoon, a 23-year-old mechanic from Maple Ridge, British Columbia, was among the dead, a family member said. His parents described him to CBC News in Canada as outdoorsy, about to begin trade school, and on the trip to Las Vegas with his girlfriend. They were expecting him to return home on Monday evening. “We only had one child,” they told CBC News. “We just don’t know what to do.”
There were two Ms Meadows who were well known in the halls of Taft Union High School in Taft, California: Stacy, who has worked at the school for 35 years, and Kelsey, her daughter, a substitute teacher. Kelsey Meadows, who was 28, was killed in the shooting, leaving behind her parents, brother and sister-in-law, “along with an entire community that loved and respected her”, the school said in a statement. The younger Ms Meadows graduated from Taft Union High School in 2007 and returned in 2012 to work there as a teacher – alongside her mother, who worked in information technology. “Kelsey was smart, compassionate and kind,” Mary Alice Finn, the principal, said in an email. “She had a sweet spirit and a love for children.” Brad Meadows, her brother, informed friends of her death on Facebook “with an absolutely shattered heart”, he wrote.
Calla Medig could not stop chattering to her colleagues at Moxie’s Grill and Bar, a restaurant in Edmonton, Alberta, where she was a bartender and server, about her upcoming trip to Las Vegas. “I even gave her a hard time because I don’t like country music,” said her boss, Scott Collingwood. “I told her, ‘You’re going to be out there two-stepping. And she said, ‘There’s nothing wrong with two-stepping!’” Ms Medig, who was 28, was a warm and funny presence in the restaurant, where she had worked for two years. She was so dependable and levelheaded that when Mr Collingwood couldn’t reach her by phone, text or Facebook in the aftermath of the shooting on Sunday night, he immediately feared the worst. “Calla is super responsible,” he said. “I just knew.” Ms Medig was scheduled to fly back home on Wednesday. Thursday was important to her. It was to have been her first day at the restaurant after being promoted to manager.
When Sonny Melton and his wife, Heather Gulish Melton, heard the sound of gunshots in Las Vegas on Sunday night he grabbed her and began to run. “I felt him get shot in the back,” Ms Gulish Melton told WCYB, a television station in northeast Tennessee. “I want everyone to know what a kindhearted, loving man he was, but at this point I can barely breathe.” Mr Melton, who was 29, was described in Facebook tributes as a kind spirit, a registered nurse who worked for much of 2016 in the surgical unit at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital in Jackson, Tennessee. “He was a very kind, compassionate, genuine person who lived life to the fullest, and he took great care of our patients,” said Amy Garner, a spokeswoman for the hospital. Union University, a college in Jackson, said Mr Melton was a 2015 graduate of the school and worked in the emergency department at Henry County Medical Center. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Mr Melton and his wife had been married only a year and had travelled from Tennessee for the music festival. “When the bullets began raining down from above, Sonny shielded her from danger, selflessly giving up his life to save hers,” Ms Sanders said on Monday.
Not long before the shooting began Pati Mestas posted a video on Facebook. It showed her jumping up and down in front of the stage at the Route 91 festival, having made her way up to the front of the crowd. “That was the type of person she was,” her cousin Tom Smith said. “If you could do it and if it wasn’t wrong, she would do it.” Ms Mestas, who was 67, was partly retired from her job as a deli manager at a Shell convenience store in Corona, California, and was spending all the time she could with her three children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild, Mr Smith said. He saw her in March, he recalled, and she had never seemed so happy. “When she did something she did it 100 per cent,” Mr Smith said. “She was faithful to her family, to her friends, a very strong Christian, and she couldn’t get enough out of life.”
Austin Meyer, who was 24, hoped to own an auto-repair shop, his sister, Veronica Meyer, told KSBW, a television news station in Monterey, California. Mr Meyer had recently moved from his home near Monterey to Reno, Nevada, to earn a degree in transportation technologies at Truckee Meadows Community College. He was a fan of Bobby Bones and the Raging Idiots, one of the acts performing at the Route 91 festival, which he attended with his fiancee, Dana Getreu. “He was a wonderful young man and my future son-in-law,” Ms Getreu’s father, Gary Getreu, said in a statement released by the college. “The loss and grief his family and mine feel at this time is beyond belief.”
Adrian Murfitt, who was 35, had been working 16-hour days all summer as a commercial salmon fisherman in his home state of Alaska. It was time for a break. He gathered up two of his childhood friends and booked tickets for a country music festival, just as he had done last year, according to his sister, Shannon Gothard. “He had such a great time when he went before, and he wanted to treat himself for a successful fishing season,” Ms Gothard said from Anchorage. Mr Murfitt was an Alaskan to the core. Since he was a toddler he loved playing hockey, she said; he could fix almost anything mechanical; he was devoted to his dog, Paxson, a Western Siberian Laika. Ms Gothard said the family had pieced together her brother’s last minutes from Brian MacKinnon, a friend who was with him at the concert on Sunday night. “He was just having a good time, enjoying himself, and got shot in the neck,” she said of her brother. A woman standing next to Mr Murfitt was shot in the head, Mr MacKinnon told the family. He watched as medics tried to resuscitate Mr Murfitt, although the medics told Mr MacKinnon to leave the scene for his own safety. “Sadly, he died in my arms,” Mr MacKinnon wrote on Facebook. “I don’t really know what else to say at this time. I’m really sorry.”
Rachael Parker, a police-records technician from Manhattan Beach, California, was shot while attending Sunday’s concert in Las Vegas, and later died in the hospital, the Manhattan Beach police department confirmed in a statement on Monday. Ms Parker, who worked at the department for 10 years, was off duty when she was shot.
As children growing up in California, they were always together, so close that their names seemed to run together into one: Jenny-and-Bobby. “She said, ‘I am going to marry Bobby,’” said Jennifer Parks’s aunt, Rhonda Boyle. “I guess she always had a little crush on him.” They became high-school sweethearts and later married. And they were together on Sunday night in Las Vegas, when Ms Parks, who was 35, was fatally shot while attending the concert with her husband, Bobby Parks. Mr Parks was wounded in the arm and a finger, her family said. The Westside Union school district, where she worked, said Ms Parks “will be remembered for her sense of humour, her passion for her work, her devotion to her students, and her commitment to continuing her own learning and to taking on whatever new projects came her way.” Ms Parks was a mother of two, a kindergarten teacher and a volleyball coach in Lancaster, California. “She had a heart of gold,” Ms Boyle said.
Carrie Parsons, a 31-year-old manager at the Seattle office of the employment firm Ajilon, was on a “girls trip” to the festival, a friend, Laura Cooper, told Komo, a local television news station. Ms Parsons had posted photographs on social media and wrote “Night made” after the performance of Eric Church, her favourite country-music artist, Komo reported.
Lisa Patterson was determined that her three children, now 19, 17 and eight, would grow up to be fearless. She pushed them to take part in school plays so that they would be confident taking risks. She drove them to softball practice so that they would learn teamwork. She made sure they performed community service, while juggling her own volunteer work and helping to run her husband’s small hardwood flooring business, without the aid of a housekeeper or nanny. The trip to Las Vegas, with a group of mom friends from her church, was a departure for Ms Patterson, who was 46 and from Lomita, California, who was typically too occupied to take time out for herself. But her love of all types of music was well known to her friends and family, who would often be induced to sing with her in the car, loud enough to provoke looks from others sitting in traffic nearby. The children, said her close friend, Deborah Beckman, learned to simply stare back. “She has brought them up to really stand on their two feet,” Ms Beckman said. “And I thank God, because I think that will help them to be able to deal with it.”
When the gunfire began on Sunday night John Phippen, and his son, Travis, followed the same urgent instinct: to try to save people. John Phippen, who was 56, who ran a home-remodelling company in Santa Clarita, California, and Travis, who was 24, an emergency medical technician, covered the bodies of strangers with their own. They crawled toward the wounded and used belts as tourniquets to try to stop their bleeding, his son said in a local television news interview. Then John Phippen was shot. “I got over there as fast as I could and I put my arm around him,” Travis Phippen said. With the help of a bystander they got John Phippen away from the area, but he did not survive. “He told me that he loved me and he wanted everybody to know how much he loved them,” the younger Mr Phippen said.
Melissa Ramirez, who was 26, grew up in California’s Antelope Valley amid a big and close-knit extended family that she often visited on weekends when she attended college, at California State University, Bakersfield. Her love of country music drew her to the festival in Las Vegas, her cousin, Fabiola Farnetti, said on Tuesday. When the two were in high school they spent summers working alongside Ms Ramirez’s parents selling fruit and vegetables for a local farm company at flea markets in the area. The daughter of Mexican immigrants who became United States citizens, Ms Ramirez majored in business and had recently received a promotion at the car insurance company where she worked, her cousin said. “She always helped her parents, and just wanted to be there,” Ms Farnetti said. The family had held out hope that she had survived the shooting, but her father identified her remains at the Las Vegas morgue early on Tuesday. On her Instagram account she posted photographs of her dog, a boxer, her young niece and, most recently, from her trip to Las Vegas.
Jordyn Rivera, a 21-year-old healthcare management student at California State University, San Bernardino, spent part of last summer in London for the school’s study abroad programme. “We will remember and treasure her for her warmth, optimism, energy and kindness,” the university’s president, Tomas Morales, wrote in an email on Tuesday to employees and students. A member of the health-education honour society, Eta Sigma Gamma, Ms Rivera was “a total sweetheart with piercing eyes & a beautiful smile”, a fellow student, Natasha Lavera, wrote on Facebook. Ms Rivera, of La Verne, California, had travelled to the concert with her mother, a friend told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She would have graduated next year.
An aunt of Quinton Robbins, who was 20 and worked as a recreation assistant for the city of Henderson, Nevada, wrote on Facebook that her nephew was among the dead. “I can’t say enough good about this sweet soul,” the aunt, Kilee Wells Sanders, wrote of Mr Robbins. “Everyone who met him loved him. His contagious laugh and smile.” Outside of his job with the city of Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas, Mr Robbins coached flag football for five-year-olds, his brother’s flag football team and softball teams. He also coached basketball along with his uncle at a high school, and was finishing certification to be a full-time coach for the Clark County school district. Mr Robbins had been thrilled to score tickets to the music festival. “He was a big country-music fan, and he and his girlfriend were excited to go,” said James DiNicola, Mr Robbins’s friend and colleague at the Henderson recreational department. “It was a last-minute thing.”
Cameron Robinson, who was 28, had taken Monday off from his job as a management analyst for the city of Las Vegas to attend the country-music festival with his boyfriend, Bobby Eardley. The creator of a smartphone app that eased navigation for attendees of the city government’s annual conferences, Mr Robinson was a frequent volunteer at city events, and had been given a promotion last summer, according to Brad Jerbic, the city attorney for Las Vegas and a family friend. “He was driven, but not so driven that he didn’t know how to enjoy life,” Mr Jerbic said. Mr Robinson was shot in the neck, Mr Jerbic said. He died shortly after 10pm on Sunday night, in Mr Eardley’s arms.
Tara Roe Smith
Tara Roe Smith, a 34-year-old educational assistant from Alberta, in Canada, was separated from her husband during the attack, according to the Edmonton Journal. “Tara was an aide in my granddaughter’s preschool class,” wrote Viola Anderson, a resident of Okotoks, where Ms Roe Smith lived, on a GoFundMe page set up by a friend. “She will be missed.” The mother of two young sons, she grew up in Manitoba, where the community is heartbroken, a family friend told CTV Manitoba. “It is with sadness, shock, and grief that we confirm the loss of a Foothills School Division staff member,” John Bailey, superintendent of the school district where Ms Roe Smith worked, wrote in a statement posted on the district’s website. “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those affected by this unimaginable attack.”
Last year Lisa Romero-Muniz’s husband, Chris, forgot their wedding anniversary. This year he was determined to make it up to her. So he made a grand gesture, planning a four-day weekend in Las Vegas and buying tickets to see her favourite country singer, Jason Aldean. Mr Muniz, who worked long hours at a refinery, and Ms Romero-Muniz, a high-school secretary in Gallup, New Mexico, left on Thursday for Las Vegas, more than a six-hour drive away. “She was beyond excited,” said Rosie Fernandez, her friend and supervisor at the high school where they worked. “For her husband to remember her anniversary and do all of that, this was a big thing for her.” Ms Romero-Muniz’s death, confirmed by officials at the school where she worked, left her colleagues and community shaken, her coworkers said. Born and raised in the small city of Gallup, she was a mother of three grown children and a secretary at Miyamura High School, where she was responsible for disciplining students who got into trouble. Ms Romero-Muniz had a warm personality and a big laugh, always teasing her colleagues, Ms Fernandez said. “We were known as the two loudmouths of the office. She knew 90 percent of the kids at this school. She would talk to them like she was talking to her own children. I’d hear her saying, ‘I know you can do better than this.’” On Monday morning administrators put up posters around the school so that students could write on them how they were feeling. A candlelight memorial is planned for Monday evening.
Christopher Roybal went to the concert with his mother, Debby Allen, to celebrate his 29th birthday. The two had become separated at the event, Ms Allen told local television stations, and when the gunfire started she ran but then tried to return to the festival grounds to look for him. “I just kept saying, ‘My son, my son, where is my son?’” Ms. Allen said. “This guy wouldn’t let me go back in. He goes: ‘You have to run away from the gunfire, not towards the gunfire.’” Mr Roybal had recently moved to Denver from Colorado Springs, where he was the general manager at a Crunch gym, which announced his death on its Facebook page. He was a US navy veteran who had served stints in Afghanistan. In a Facebook post in July he had recalled the emotions of battle: “The anger stays, long after your friends have died, the lives you’ve taken are buried and your boots are placed neatly in a box in some storage unit.”
Growing up in Arizona with five siblings, Brett Schwanbeck was a brother who loved to joke around and have fun. The 61-year-old had the most beautiful smile ever, his sister, Robin Martin, said. “He was very, very full of life,” she said. Mr Schwanbeck had gone to the Route 91 festival with his fiancee, Anna Orozco, who he had been planning to marry in January. Photographs of the couple on Facebook show them posing on the concert grounds, the gleaming Mandalay Bay resort in the background. Mr Schwanbeck, a retired truck driver who lived in Bullhead City, Arizona, had met Ms Orozco in high school in Ash Fork. Their romance blossomed much later. Ms Martin said she tried to speak to her brother after the shooting, while he was on life support in the hospital, hoping that he could hear her. “Family meant everything to him,” she said.
Infinity Communications and Consulting, the Bakersfield, California, company where Bailey Schweitzer worked as a receptionist, confirmed in a statement that she was among the victims of the shooting. Ms Schweitzer, who was 20, “was always the ray of sunshine in our office on a cloudy day”, Fred Brakeman, the company’s president, said. “No one could possibly have a bad day when Bailey was around. If you have ever called or visited our office, she was the perky one that helped direct you to the staff member you needed.” Before graduating Ms Schweitzer was a cheerleader at Centennial High School in Bakersfield and a frequent volunteer at the Bakersfield Speedway, which her family owned, the Bakersfield Californian reported. A colleague, Katelynn Cleveland, told the newspaper that Ms Schweitzer had been looking forward to the Route 91 music festival for weeks.
The staff at the Chili’s restaurant in Arroyo Market Square in Las Vegas knew it was Friday when Laura Shipp, who was 50, took her seat by the bar and ordered her favourites: smoked wings and a Presidente Margarita. “Like clockwork she would be there Friday night, first seat at the bar,” said Chris Atkinson, a manager at the restaurant, over a Facebook message. The wings were not the only draw. Ms Shipp’s son, Corey, a 23-year-old marine reservist, was a bartender and server there, and she liked to be around him. She was so well liked, Mr Atkinson said, that he and Corey’s other friends took to calling her “Mama Shipp”. And Corey Shipp liked having her around. “These two seemed like, even if they weren’t family, they would still be best friends,” Mr Atkinson said. Corey Shipp moved to Las Vegas first, and Laura Shipp followed. “Corey was her only and Laura was his only,” said Steve Shipp, Ms Shipp’s 47-year-old brother, who confirmed her death. They loved the Los Angeles Dodgers and country music, which is what brought them to the festival. Corey Shipp was not harmed, but he could not find his mother despite a frantic search that involved many members of the Chili’s staff. “It took about 28 to 30 hours just even to figure out that she had passed,” Mr Shipp, the brother, said.
The security staff working at the Route 91 festival were the first to help, and Erick Silva, a 21-year-old from Las Vegas, was one of them. Mr Silva, who was assigned to a position near the front of the stage, began trying to help audience members escape over a barricade. As he worked to usher others away he was shot himself, and was later pronounced dead in the hospital, Jay Purves, the Nevada vice-president of Mr Silva’s employer, Contemporary Services Corp, said in an email. Two other CSC employees were also shot, but they survived, Mr Purves said. “Watching the many video clips on YouTube and social media, you see our men and women in the yellow shirts jumping right into the middle of the chaos as it started to help those who were shot.” Mr Silva worked long hours on the job. “When he wasn’t helping me, he would always go where he was needed the most to help out in any way possible,” James Garrett, a colleague, wrote in a Facebook tribute. “He never complained about anything.” The company will name one of its training centres after Mr Silva, Mr Purves said.
Susan Smith, who was 53, was a lover of country music, a devoted mother to a son and daughter, a wife and a popular office manager at an elementary school in Simi Valley, California. “A wonderful person,” said her father, Tom Rementer, through tears. She had gone to Las Vegas with friends, and was killed during the attack near the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, said Jake Smith, a spokeswoman for the district. Her friends survived the shooting.
A year ago Brennan Stewart posted on Facebook a video of himself performing the country song You Should Be Here. It has gone viral in recent days. Grieving families and friends – and not just his – have seen it as a touchstone after the Route 91 shooting. In his original post, on October 4th, 2016, Mr Stewart wrote that he had taken a “slower approach” to the song, written by the musician Cole Swindell in 2015 after the death of his father. “Thoughts on this one!?” Mr. Stewart asked. “Solid performance. Rest in peace, Brennan,” read one of dozens of recent replies on the old thread. A tribute to the love of country music that propelled Mr Stewart, who was 30 and from Las Vegas, and so many others to the music festival, the video has been shared over 1,000 times. “This is one of those moments that’s got your name written all over it,” Mr Brennan sings. “You know that if I had just one wish, it’d be that you didn’t have to miss this.” “You should be here.”
A California corrections officer in charge of inmates who volunteer to fight forest fires, Derrick Taylor, who was 56 and from Oxnard, California, had been stationed in the northern tip of the state last month, where a fire had been burning for weeks. He made it home just in time to leave for the trip he had planned with his girlfriend, Denise Cohen, to attend the music festival in Las Vegas. The couple both died in the attack. In his job and in his personal relationships, Mr Taylor, his younger son, Kyle, who is 31, said, was kind, generous and honest. When he was in college, the younger Mr Taylor recalled, his father sometimes called to make sure he was in class. He also insisted that his grandchildren leave video games behind while he escorted them to the park or on hikes. Friends the younger Mr Taylor had not heard from since high school contacted him after hearing about his father’s death. They remembered him as a kind of “second dad”. “He was someone who cares enough to hold you accountable,” Mr Taylor said, “for who you could be and who you should be”.
Neysa Tonks, a mother of three from Las Vegas, was killed in the shootings on Sunday, according to her employer, Technologent. In a statement the company said Ms Tonks had brought “so much joy, fun and laughter” to her workplace. Her father, Chris Davis, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Ms Tonks was a devoted parent to her sons, Kaden, Braxton and Greysen, and a generous member of her community, every year delivering hundreds of backpacks with supplies to people who needed them.
Michelle Vo was one of those people who didn’t waste time. In the past few months she was a whirlwind of new hobbies – paddle boarding, golf, even surfing, said a close friend, Casey Lubin. She had already been all over Europe and southeast Asia. Next on her list was Iceland – she was determined to travel there by herself. Ms Vo and Ms Lubin had met through a mutual friend. “He was like, ‘You have to meet this girl. The two of you are meant to be friends,’” Ms Lubin said. “She’s like a shark. She’s a go-getter. She’s so inspiring.” Ms Vo, who was 32, and an insurance agent from Los Angeles, was by herself at the concert on Sunday when she befriended a stranger, Kody Robertson, of Ohio. Ms Vo was standing next to Mr Robertson when she was shot.
Kurt Von Tillow
Kurt Von Tillow was “the most patriotic person you’ve ever met”, his brother-in-law, Mark Carson, told KCRA, a local NBC News station for Cameron Park, the small California town in the Sierra foothills, near Sacramento, where the 55-year-old lived. Mr Von Tillow had travelled to Las Vegas for the concert with family members. His wife and daughter escaped unharmed, Mr Carson said. Mr Von Tillow’s sister was shot in the thigh and his niece in an ankle. Both are expected to recover. Mr Von Tillow’s wife told family she was herded out of the area by the authorities amid the chaos of the shooting scene, Mr Carson said. “That was probably the hardest part for her – having to leave him there,” he said. On Monday friends and family gathered at the Cameron Park Country Club, where Mr Von Tillow was a member. At his home, family set up a memorial with an American flag, and played the national anthem. “Guarantee you, he’s covered in red, white and blue right now, with a Coors Light in his hand, smiling with his family and listening to some music,” Mr Carson told the television station.
Bill Wolfe jnr
Bill Wolfe jnr, a wrestling and Little League coach in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, went to Las Vegas with his wife, Robyn, to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Only Robyn came home. “It is with the most of broken hearts, the families of Bill Wolfe Jr and his wife Robyn share that Bill has been confirmed to be among the deceased as a result of the mass attack in Las Vegas,” the Shippensburg police department said on Facebook. “Please continue to hold our entire family as well as those affected across the nation in your unending prayers.” Mr Wolfe, a coach at Shippensburg Greyhound Wrestling, was also an employee of the engineering consulting firm Dewberry and a former president of the Shippensburg Wrestling Booster Club. “He was just a good guy,” the current president of the booster club, Cory Forrester, told Penn Live. “He was a go-to kind of guy, a guy you could depend on, a kind of guy you could be proud to be around.”
© New York Times