As investigators continue their search for any motive behind the senseless mass shooting that took the lives of 58 country music fans at Sunday night’s Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, we takes a look at the innocent victims of the largest mass shooting in modern American history. (Profiles courtesy of the Associated Press and CNN.)
Brian Ahlers told CNN his wife of 17 years was “shot in the head while dancing” with him at the music festival. Hannah Ahlers, 34, was a stay-at-home mom of three who had lived in Beaumont, California, for the last five years, but was originally from Redlands. “She was a full-time house wife and mommy and she was amazing at it,” he said. “Very active in moms groups and our daughter’s volleyball team. She wasn’t too good for anybody. Beautiful inside and out.” Ryan Chiaverini, who was friends with Ahlers, told CNN that “she couldn’t hurt a fly.”
“She was one of the kindest people I’ve met,” he said.
Heather Warino Alvarado
Heather Warino Alvarado made the three-hour drive from her southern Utah home to Las Vegas to get away for the weekend and take her daughter to a country music festival. Her daughter was unharmed in the Sunday night shooting, but the 35-year-old Warino Alvarado was one of at least 59 people killed when a gunman opened fire at the concert-goers.
Friends and family received confirmation she had died Monday night from Las Vegas police, according to a news release Tuesday from the Cedar City Fire Department, where her husband was a firefighter. Warino Alvarado ran an in-home day care center in Cedar City, Utah, and was a devoted wife and mother of three children who was always willing to help others, said longtime friend Megan Jackson Gadd.
“She has made huge impacts on those around her with even the smallest gestures,” Jackson Gadd said in a Facebook messenger conversation. “A person like her will never be replaced or forgotten and will be missed dearly every day for the rest of our lives.”
Dorene Anderson, 49, of Alaska, was at the concert with her daughters, CNN affiliate KTUU in Anchorage reported. The Alaska Housing Finance Corp., which employs her husband, John, confirmed her death.
Dorene Anderson’s family released this statement through the employer: “Due to this horrific and terrible situation, our family is dealing with a great loss. She (Dorene) was the most amazing wife, mother and person this world ever had. We are so grateful and lucky for the time that we did have with her. We are greatly appreciative and want to thank everyone for the thoughts and prayers you have been sending us. We are dealing with the situation as a family, and would appreciate our privacy as we grieve for our loss.”
Carrie Barnette, 34, was a Disneyland food service worker who never lost her sense of wonder for things like hummingbirds, according to her friends and family. Barnette, of Riverside, California, was part of the culinary team at Disney California Adventure for 10 years. Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger said in a statement that she was “beloved by her friends and colleagues.”
“We are especially heartbroken over the loss of one of our own to this unconscionable and senseless act,” Iger said. Another Disney cast member, Jessica Milam, was seriously injured in the mass shooting at the country music festival in Las Vegas over the weekend. Joey Castillo, who is married to Barnette’s younger sister, told the Orange County Register that Barnette loved hummingbirds because she saw them as a sign that her belated grandparents were watching over them.
“She was always happy and loved her grandparents with who she’s now with up in heaven,” he said. “She will be greatly missed.”
Laurie Beaton was at the festival with her husband Jack celebrating their 23rd wedding anniversary when they heard what sounded like firecrackers. Like everyone around her, she was looking around to see who was lighting them when she felt something like air rush past her arm. “I’ve never experienced gunshots but when I felt air go right past my arm I told my husband, ‘I don’t think that’s fireworks,’” she said in a telephone interview from her home in Bakersfield, California.
“He told me, ‘Get down, get down, get down,’” and put his own body on top of hers for protection, she said. “He told me, ‘I love you, Laurie’ and his arms were around me and his body just went heavy on me.” Suddenly, she knew her husband had been shot. “I screamed his name and he wasn’t answering me, there was a lot of blood,” she said. Another man, someone who told her he was a nurse and an EMT, ran up and told her to put her husband on his side. Helping, she saw blood and heard her husband struggling to breathe.
As quickly as the shooting stopped it started again and now, with lights on, the man told one of the husband’s friends who attended the festival with them to take the women to safety. “So we ran,” she said. Later, friends told Laurie Beaton he wasn’t on the ground anymore. “He had been moved so we were optimistic that he’d received help,′ she said.
Calls to hospitals in search of Jack Beaton turned up nothing. Eventually she called the coroner’s office, which said her husband was among the dead. On Tuesday morning she was back home, trying both to comfort a 20-year-old son and an 18-year-old daughter who had just lost their father and be comforted by them. Beaton said her husband, a 54-year-old construction worker, wouldn’t want much said publicly about his death. But she wanted people to hear how he had protected her, just as he always had done.
“I knew every day that he would protect me and take care of me and love me unconditionally, and what he did is no surprise to me, and he is my hero,” she said.
Steven Berger, of Shorewood, Minnesota, traveled to Las Vegas as he had many times before with his friends, but this time they would celebrate his 44th birthday. A fan of country music, Berger and his roommate along with four others were enjoying the Jason Aldean show near the Las Vegas strip when the rain of bullets began from the 32nd floor of a nearby hotel.
Mary Berger, 72, of Brookfield, Wisconsin, said her son’s roommate called hours later to tell them Steven had been hit by gunfire and collapsed to the ground. “He tried to go to him but they were trying to get people out of the way,” Berger said. He wasn’t sure where Steven wound up, she added. Steven’s father, Richard Berger, said the family was notified by the coroner’s office in Las Vegas on Tuesday afternoon that he had died.
“He’s our only son,” Berger said choking up. “It’s terrible. At least now we know. Now we got busy things to do with three grandchildren.” Mary Berger described her son, a father of three, as fun-loving with a serious side and a hard worker. He played basketball in high school and college before he started his career as a financial adviser after graduating from St. Olaf College in 1995.
Candice Bowers was a single mother of three. Her family described her as a superhero who loved country music. “It was a gift that she was able to spend her final moments doing what she loved with those she loved even more,” her family said. “Her strength, fierce loyalty and memory will live on through their lives and those of her family and friends who loved her so dearly.” Her children included a recently adopted 2-year-old, her family said in a statement.
While the sun was still shining Sunday at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Denise Burditus posted a photo on Facebook of herself and her husband standing in front of the stage, smiling broadly. Later, after news of the massacre spread, a friend asked simply: “Are you two ok????” Burditus never replied.
MetroNews, a West Virginia-based radio network, reported that Tony Burditus wrote on his Facebook page that his wife was among the victims. “It saddens me to say that I lost my wife of 32 years, a mother of two, soon to be grandmother of five this evening in the Las Vegas shooting,” Tony Burditus wrote. “Denise passed in my arms. I LOVE YOU BABE.” Denise Burditus’ Facebook page includes a photo of her and her husband at the same festival last year. Mandalay Bay, the hotel where the gunman opened fire, is shown in the background.
Sandy Casey, a middle school special education teacher living in Redondo Beach, California, was killed in Sunday night’s attack, the school district and a relative said. “This is unbelievably tragic and sad,” Mike Matthews, superintendent of the Manhattan Beach School District, wrote in a Monday morning letter to the district. “This loss is impacting many of our staff members deeply.”
Casey, 35, is an alumna of the College of St. Joseph in Rutland, Vermont, and Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, said Linda O’Leary, a cousin of Casey’s mother who is acting as a family spokeswoman. Casey was at the Las Vegas concert with her fiancé and a friend, who were not injured, O’Leary said. Most of Casey’s extended family lives in Vermont, she said. “They’re receiving a lot of support and love, the best you can do with an unbelievable tragedy,” she said. The family is discussing setting up a scholarship in Casey’s name.
Andrea Castilla was so happy to be in Las Vegas celebrating her 28th birthday. She was holding hands with her sister while watching the band when they heard yells to “duck!” and the sound of gunshots, her aunt, Marina Parker, wrote on a GoFundMe memorial page to raise money for the funeral expenses.
Her boyfriend, sister and friend tried carrying her to safety while dodging bullets and managed to get her over a fence and to a nearby highway, where they flagged down a passing driver, who took them to a hospital in the back of his truck. After she was admitted, they were told hours later that she had died, Parker wrote, but the hospital system listed her still as alive because she was confused with another patient.
“It has been tragic for our family with her dad still hoping it was a mistake and she’s still alive,” Parker wrote. After the family provided her ID and photos she was confirmed to be among the dead. “Our entire family is heartbroken,” Parker wrote on her Facebook page.
As Jeff Rees thinks about his mom, Denise Cohen, one thing keeps repeating in his head: Her laugh. “When she would take me to the movies as a kid, I was just waiting to hear her laugh because it would just crack me up,” Rees said. Cohen, 58, and her boyfriend Derrick “Bo” Taylor, 56, both died at the Las Vegas concert. Taylor was a lieutenant in the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. He worked as a commander at the Ventura Conservation Camp, which houses inmates that help California fight wildfires.
Rees met Taylor last year, when he traveled to California to visit his mother. The two had dated on and off for several years. Cohen was a woman who lived life to the fullest and made everyone around her feel their best, Rees said. “I feel sorry for all of the people in the world who never got a chance to meet her,” he said.
Austin Davis, 29, and his parents had a bond “unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed,” Davis’s friend Katelyn Hood wrote in an online fundraising post. He was their only son. As soon as news came that he may have been shot, they headed straight from their home in Riverside, California, to Las Vegas. They waited for 20 hours before learning that he had been killed, Hood wrote.
“They raised the best son,” Hood wrote. “He worked so very hard and took the most pride in that and anything he did.” Through Hood, Davis’s parents declined to be interviewed. Davis also leaves behind his girlfriend of nine years, whom he met in high school. He was at the concert with his family friend, Thomas Day Jr., who also died.
Thomas Day Jr.
Thomas Day Jr. was a big country music fan, so there was no doubt he’d go to the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas, and that he’d take his whole family with him. Day, 54, of Corona, California, was one of 59 people killed by a gunman who sprayed the concert with bullets from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. “He was just a fun-loving boy, a great family man who loved to spend time with his family,” said Thomas Day Sr. who spoke on the phone, surrounded by his son’s four grown children at his Las Vegas area home.
The elder Day, who lives near Las Vegas, said he was at home Sunday night when he received a frantic telephone call from his grandson and a granddaughter. “They were standing right there and they said he and another young man there both took a bullet in the head,” said Day, 75. “Everybody started running for cover and the guy kept shooting.” Day said none of his grandchildren were struck by bullets, but his son was. A friend rushed Thomas Day Jr. to a hospital but there was nothing doctors could do.
Struggling to speak, Day said his son loved his three daughters and son and his two grandchildren. The whole group jumped at the chance to drive to Las Vegas for the show. “We always had fun together,” he said.
Christiana Duarte, 22, had just taken her first job, working in marketing for the Los Angeles Kings after graduating from the University of Arizona. “It’s just so tragic that this evil, evil man would do this, would just destroy the life of this beautiful young woman,” said family spokeswoman Danette Myers, a co-worker of Duarte’s father at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. “She would’ve given so much to this world, and now that’s been cut short.”
Duarte was the only daughter in a well-known Los Angeles family. Her father, Michael Duarte, is a deputy district attorney, and her older brother, also Michael, is a prospect for the Chicago White Sox baseball team, Myers said.
Stacee Etcheber of Novato, California, was listed as missing for hours before her family received word that the mother of two was dead. At the concert, her husband told her to hide, then to run, as he helped a concertgoer next to him who was shot, said Al Etcheber, her brother-in-law. Her husband, Vincent Etcheber, is a San Francisco police officer, and his training kicked in immediately when shots rang out, Al Etcheber said.
He told Stacee and the couple’s three friends to protect themselves behind a nearby barrier. Then he told them to run, just before the second round of shots rang out, Al Etcheber said. He did not hear from Stacee again, and she was not carrying an ID. “It’s been a grueling 15 hours with no information,” Al Etcheber said Monday. On Tuesday morning, he posted on Facebook that the family’s worst fears were realized — she was dead. Stacee, 50, worked as a hairdresser. Al Etcheber called her a loving wife and great mother who was “tough as nails and just the salt of the earth.”
Brian Fraser, a father of four, was moving toward the stage in anticipation of Jason Aldean playing his favorite song, “Dirt Road Anthem,” when gunshots rang out. While others around him ducked for safety, Fraser looked around to try to spot where the shots were coming from, so that he could shield his wife. He died doing just that, his son, Nick Arellano, said.
Fraser’s friend ushered their wives and friends to safety before rushing back to perform CPR on Fraser. A doctor and several nurses in the crowd came to help, eventually loading Fraser into a wheelbarrow and taking him to paramedics. Arellano recounted the story as told to him by his wife, his mother, and family friends. Arellano had been at the concert with them for the prior two days, but chose to head home early, just missing the harrowing scene.
Arellano described Fraser, 39, as “the definition of American,” a man who boated, hunted, fished and snowboarded. Fraser married his wife, Stephanie, 11 years ago, adopting Arellano and one of her other children. The couple had two more children together, now ages 4 and 10. The family lives in La Palma, California. He worked as vice president of sales for a mortgage company and mentored fellow loan officers around the country. “He taught me what it meant to be an honest, motivated, driven, loving man to not only family and friends, but even to just strangers, or anyone he came in contact with — just to be a human being to everyone on this planet,” Arellano said.
Keri Lynn Galvan
Keri Lynn Galvan was at the Route 91 Harvest Festival with her husband, Justin, when she was killed, sister Lindsey Poole said in a statement. Her husband survived. “She was senselessly murdered … while enjoying a night out with her husband and friends,” Poole wrote. Galvan, 31, of Thousand Oaks, California, leaves behind children 2, 4 and 10 years old. Galvan’s days “started and ended with doing everything in her power to be a wonderful mother,” Poole wrote.
Dana Gardner was attending the music festival with her daughter Kayla when the gunfire erupted. Gardner was shot and killed; her daughter was uninjured, according to KABC-TV in Los Angeles. Gardner, 52, of Grand Terrace, California, was a deputy recorder in the San Bernardino County Assessor-Recorder’s Office. She’d held a job there since 1991, according to David Wert, a county spokesman.
She had two other children, sons Anthony and Ryan, and lived with her little white dog, Ellie. Gardner loved the outdoors and travelling, filling her Facebook page with pictures from a trip to Puerto Rico and from walks on beaches, or in Northern California’s redwood forests.
Angela Angie Gomez
Angela “Angie” Gomez was a hard worker who always challenged herself academically, according to a statement from California’s Riverside Unified School District. Gomez graduated from Riverside Poly High School in 2015, where she was a cheerleader. She died in the shooting. School staff remember Gomez as a “fun-loving young lady with a great sense of humor,” the district said. Gomez participated in the Riverside Children’s Theater and was involved in choir. In a tribute to her online, friend Lupe Avila wrote that Gomez was a “cheerful young lady with a warm heart and loving spirit.”
Californian Rocio Guillen was a mother of four — two older boys, and two babies ages 18 months and two months. Guillen, 40, was fatally shot in the hail of bullets at the Route 91 music festival, according to a statement on a website raising donations for her family. “She was a hard worker,” Marcus Guillen told KNBC in Los Angeles. “She was a fighter, a great mother. Guillen worked as an assistant general manager at a pizza restaurant, and went to Katella High school in Anaheim.
Off-duty Las Vegas police officer and youth football coach Charleston Hartfield was among those killed, two of his friends said. Hartfield, 34, was known as a selfless, respected leader who brought out the best in his players, said Stan King, whose son played football for Hartfield. Troy Rhett, another friend of Hartfield’s through football, said he knew from social media that Hartfield was attending the Sunday concert. When he heard about the shooting, he texted him, hoping to learn Hartfield was safe. He never heard back, and Rhett said he learned through another friend Monday morning that Hartfield had died.
Hartfield, who also went by “Chuck” or “Charles” or even “Chucky Hart,” was also a military veteran and leaves behind a son and a daughter, Rhett said. Hartfield is also listed at author of a book titled “Memoirs of Public Servant” about his time as a Las Vegas police officer.
Chris Hazencomb, 44, of Camarillo, California, was a big sports fan. His mother, Maryanne Hazencomb, told the Ventura County Star she had him taken off a ventilator at 10:50 a.m. Monday. Hazencomb was struck in the head while shielding his best friend’s wife from bullets, his mother said. He loved watching professional wrestling on TV every Monday night “even though it’s phony,” Maryanne Hazencomb told the newspaper. He also loved football and followed the Los Angeles Rams. Hazencomb was a graduate of Thousand Oaks High School.
Jennifer Topaz Irvine
Jennifer Topaz Irvine, a 42-year-old San Diego lawyer, was “bright, brilliant and could talk to millennials,” her publicist Jay Jones said. When Jones heard that Irvine was among those killed at the Las Vegas concert, he said it was “like an atomic bomb went off in my heart. I just got punched dead in the gut.”
Kyle Kraska, a sports director for the CBS affiliate KFMB-TV in San Diego, was a close friend of Irvine’s and posted on Facebook that she was singing and dancing to country music when she was shot in the head. Kraska — who survived after being shot multiple times outside his home in 2015 by a house painter — wrote that Irvine’s death felt like “I have now been victimized by gun violence twice.”
“When does it stop?!” he wrote.
Teresa Nicol Kimura
Teresa Nicol Kimura, 38, went to the festival with a group of seven men and women who call themselves “framily” — friends who are like family. She was fatally shot seconds after the gunfire began, said Ryan Miller, a businessman and pastor who is part of the group. A Southern California native who lived in Placentia, Kimura’s survivors include her parents, a sister and the friends who were with her when she died. She was single and didn’t have children, but she was treated like family by the kids of group members, Miller said.
“She was a mom to all of our kids; they called her ‘auntie,’” he said. “I have two kids myself, and they were just absolutely devastated that they will not be able to see her again.” Kimura worked in a tax office for Orange County and spent most weekends with her friends. No one else in the group was shot. “She was just such an amazing woman and she was just such a light,” he said.
Jessica Klymchuk of Valleyview, Alberta was among the several Canadians killed. Klymchuk, 28, was a mother of four who lived in the northwestern Alberta town of Valleyview, where she worked as an educational assistant, librarian and bus driver at an area Catholic school. A family friend has set up a crowdfunding page to support Klymchuk’s children. “Jessica was an amazing mother who worked to provide her children with as best a life as she could,” a certain Noella Marie wrote on the GoFundMe page, adding Klymchuk was engaged to the “love of her life,” Brent Irla.
Carly Kreibaum lived in tiny Sutherland, Iowa, with a population of fewer than 620 people. She went to bustling Las Vegas with friends. Kreibaum’s sister-in-law confirmed her death but declined to comment further, saying the family wanted privacy. The Sioux City Journal reported that Kreibaum, 33, attended the concert with two friends who said they got separated but saw Kreibaum get shot.
Kreibaum was a mother of two and a Sibley native who graduated from Sibley-Ocheyedan High School. She later attended Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska. The Sutherland Church of Christ has set up a bank account for donations to her husband and children.
Priscilla Champagne on Tuesday described 42-year-old Rhonda LeRocque to reporters as a kindhearted woman with a “beautiful life.” LeRocque had attended the concert Sunday with her husband and their 6-year-old daughter. LeRocque’s daughter was taken back to their hotel before the shooting occurred. Champagne, who is LeRocque’s mother, says LeRocque’s husband, Jason, was next to her when she fell. He had thought she was ducking but she did not get up.
Champagne says LeRocque loved cooking, music and her family. She worked at the Cambridge, Massachusetts, office of the design company IDEO. LeRocque was from Tewksbury, Massachusetts, a town located about 24 miles northwest of Boston.
Victor Link was doing one of the things he most enjoyed with the person he most enjoyed being with — his fiancee, Lynne Gonzales — when automatic gunfire peppered a huge crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. Link, 55, Gonzales, and two of their close friends were there to hear country music when he was shot.
A “gentle spirit” was lost with Link’s death, said his older brother, Craig Link, 58. “He was somebody that everybody loved,” Craig Link told The Associated Press on Thursday. “Victor had a gentle spirit, a loving spirit. He was giver. He was always there for any of his friends or family. If he could, he would help out wherever he could. He was a good man. “He was my younger brother, but I always aspired to be him.”
The brothers grew up northwest of Bakersfield in Shafter, California. As teens, much of their young lives revolved around music, going to concerts and cars. Victor Link and Gonzales, who wasn’t hurt in Sunday’s shooting, had been to several country music concerts over the last several years. Going to concerts “was their favorite thing to do,” Craig Link said. “He was so blessed to have Lynne in his life,” Craig Link said. “Those two had an amazing love that very, very few people are blessed to understand and enjoy.”
Jordan McIldoon, 23, from Maple Ridge, B.C., was among the several Canadians killed in Las Vegas. A relative said McIldoon would have turned 24 on Friday and was a month shy of completing a course to qualify as a heavy-duty mechanic.In addition to Craig Link and Gonzales, Victor Link is survived by a son, Christian; his father, Loyd; another brother, Vincent; and a sister, Lisa Link Hiestand.
Kelsey Meadows, 28, loved children so she returned to her small hometown of Taft, in the eastern part of California, to teach at her alma mater, Taft Union High School, after earning her degree. Meadows was a regular substitute teacher at the school. “Kelsey was smart, compassionate and kind. She had a sweet spirit and a love for children,” Taft Union High School principal, Mary Alice Finn, said in a statement. “Words cannot adequately capture the sorrow felt by her students, colleagues and friends in learning of her passing.”
The school district said grief counselors were being made available to students and staff to “assist in coping with the incomprehensible loss.” Her brother, Brad Meadows, posted on his Facebook page that his sister had not been heard from since going to the music festival in Las Vegas. The California firefighter thanked everyone for helping them try to find her. “So it is with an absolutely shattered heart that I let everyone know that Kelsey did not survive this tragic event,” Meadows posted Tuesday. “Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers as we try and move past this horrible time.”
Calla Medig, 28, who was among those who died in the mass shooting, grew up in Jasper, a town in Canada’s Alberta province. She had taken time off from her job at Moxie’s restaurant in west Edmonton to attend the Route 91 Music Festival in Las Vegas, said her boss, Scott Collingwood. “This had started to become an annual thing for her. I believe it was her third trip,” Collingwood said.
When news broke about the shooting Sunday, Collingwood said he immediately called Medig, It went right to voice mail, and she didn’t answer texts or Facebook messages. “She was kind of a rock and, as of Thursday, she would have been our newest manager,” Collingwood said. “A lot of us around here have super heavy hearts and we already miss her.”
Sonny Melton, a registered nurse, died while shielding his wife from the gunfire, a friend said. Melton worked at The Henry County Medical Center in Paris, Tennessee. His wife, Dr. Heather Melton, an orthopedic surgeon, was with him when shots were fired. She told WZTV in Nashville, Tennessee, that her husband “saved my life and lost his.” She said her husband was the most kind-hearted, loving man she knew. Friend Jeremy Butler told the Paris (Tennessee) Post-Intelligencer that Melton was shielding Heather Melton from gunfire when he was fatally shot.
The first time Alexis Magana drove over to her friend Brandon Mestas’ house, she asked how to find it. “Oh, you’ll know,” he told her. “It’s the one blasting country.” It was Brandon’s mom, Pati Mestas, who was the household’s country music fanatic. Pati Mestas, 67, of California, died in Las Vegas while listening to that favorite music. Magana remembered her as someone who was “fearless and bold” and always welcoming, from that very first day they met.
“She really was a firecracker,” Magana wrote to The Associated Press in a Facebook message. “I just never dreamed she’d be taken from us in an instant. Our firecracker is gone and now it’s just dark.” Brandon Mestas, 33, wrote on his Facebook page that his mother surely enjoyed herself in her final moments. “She left this world surrounded by friends, singing and dancing with thousands of people. If I had to write the script myself, I could not have done a better job,” he wrote.
Austin Meyer, a Marina, California, resident, was at the concert with his fiancée Dana Getreu to celebrate his 24th birthday, according to CNN affiliate KSBW. They were also celebrating an upcoming anniversary.
Meyer had recently moved to Reno, Nevada, where he was an automotive student at Truckee Meadows Community College, the school said in a statement. “He was a wonderful young man and my future son-in-law,” Getreu’s father, Gary, said in the statement posted on the college’s Facebook page.”He loved attending the automotive program at your school and praised it all the time. … The loss and grief his family and mine feel at this time is beyond belief.”
Mayer hoped to open his own auto repair shop after graduation, according to his sister, Veronica Meyer. “He was excited to get married and start a family,” she told KSBW. She described her brother as “ambitious, smart, and hard-working,” and said he “always had a smile on his face.”
Commercial fisherman Adrian Murfitt, 35, of Anchorage, Alaska, was a former competitive hockey player who still dabbled in the game. “His whole life was always around hockey,” said his sister, Shannon Gothard. After graduating from high school, Murfitt became a fisherman, picking up odd jobs in the off season. He had just come off an extremely successful fishing season when he made the trip to Las Vegas with some good friends, Gothard said.
Murfitt “was happy to pay some things off and had made some really good money and decided to go out and celebrate and go to the concert and treat himself to something nice and fun,” she said. Gothard said the family heard from one of Murfitt’s friends who was with him when he died, though they haven’t received official confirmation about his death. Asked if the family was holding out hope that he made it after all, she said, “No. No.”
Rachael Parker was a records technician for California’s Manhattan Beach Police Department. She and was one of four department employees attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival while off-duty, the agency said. Parker was shot and ultimately died in the hospital, according to the department. One of the other employees suffered minor injuries. Parker had worked for the department for 10 years and “will be greatly missed,” the agency said in a statement.
Bobby Parks’ wife was planning to throw him a 40th birthday party next week before Jenny Parks was killed at the concert, friend, Jessica Maddin said. The couple who were high school sweethearts have two children. Jenny Parks was a kindergarten teacher for the Lancaster School District in California. Bobby Parks was shot in the arm and hand, Maddin said.
Maddin met Parks while working at 24 Hour Fitness. Later Parks would help Maddin who started a group, Jessica’s Hope Project, that provides care packages to troops. “It breaks my heart,” Maddin said. “People go to concerts to have a good time, connect with others and escape the tragedies of this world.”
Carrie Parsons, 31, was “always the life of the party and had the biggest heart,” her aunt Barbara wrote on Facebook. “We lost our beautiful niece to a totally senseless act in Las Vegas,” Barbara Parsons wrote. “There really are no words to describe the pain of missing Carrie on our whole family. … Recently engaged, she had her whole life in front of her.” A Seattle-area resident, Parsons was at the Las Vegas music festival on a trip with her girlfriends, CNN affiliate KOMO reported. “She would always say, ‘live, laugh, love’ and she did that,” her friend Laura Cooper told KOMO. Parsons, a lover of country music, had a “vibrant, bubbly personality,” her friend Robbie Walden told CNN affiliate KCPQ.
A few hours before the shooting, Lisa Patterson called her husband to tell him what a great time she was having with her girlfriends — one of the rare weekends she was not coaching one of her kids’ softball teams or volunteering at a school or church event. Her husband, Bob Patterson, told his wife, a country music lover, to enjoy herself and stay for the last band, assuring her he could get their kids off to school the next morning.
It was the last time Bob Patterson spoke to his wife. After news broke of the shooting spree, he spent the night calling hospitals trying to find her. By 6 a.m. Monday, he and his 16-year-old son, Robert, jumped in the car and drove three hours from their Los Angeles suburb to Las Vegas to find her. His 19-year-old daughter, Amber, drove over from Arizona. They spent 10 hours searching. Late Monday, Bob Patterson was approached by an official at the Las Vegas convention center, where the coroner’s office set up operations to have more space where families could come to identify those who died.
“My children who had been waiting 100 feet outside the room, knew when I came back out that she had died by the look on my face,” he said. “My oldest daughter instantly broke down and fell on the ground crying.” Patterson was given his wife’s blood-stained purse, her cell phone and wrist band she wore to get into festival, but little information. “I have not been told yet how she died,” said Patterson on Wednesday as he planned a funeral for his 46-year-old wife in their home town of Lomita next Friday at their Catholic church. After he and his children headed home to Lomita, he told his 8-year-old daughter, Brooke, that “mommy passed away.” He said since she is so young, she seems to be taking it the best out of all of them.
Bob Patterson met his wife when she was 18 and immediately was taken by her beauty, he said. They dated for seven years and were married for 21 years. They opened a hardware flooring store together. They were always together, he said, whether it was running their business, helping at their church, volunteering at school or coaching the many sports their kids did. “My wife loved life, loved helping and there is nothing she would not do to help someone,” he said.
Bob Patterson said he would get upset whenever there was a mass shooting in recent years from the one at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut to the night club in Orlando, and would think about the victims’ families. That is why he said he is sharing his own pain, with the hope that it will help stop such tragedies from happening to another family.
John Phippen was a father of six who was always willing to lend an ear — or a cold beer — to a friend in need. “He had a heart that was larger than life and a personality to match,” neighbor Leah Nagyivanyi wrote on an online fundraising page. “You felt like you knew him for years the first time you met him.” Nagyivanyi is raising money through GoFundMe to help Phippen’s children pay for his funeral. Phippen, 56, lived in Santa Clarita, California. The youngest of his six children, a daughter, is just 14.
Maribel Ramirez had 30 minutes to go on her shift as a receptionist in Fontana, California, and decided to log onto Facebook. That’s how she learned that her 26-year-old cousin, Melissa Ramirez, had been at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. That was about 4:30 p.m. Monday. No one could find Melissa in the confusion and chaos that followed the shootings. “Nothing was confirmed, and we still had hope that she was alive,” Maribel Ramirez told The Associated Press Tuesday.
Melissa’s parents and siblings hurried to Las Vegas from Littlerock, California, after getting word of the shootings. “They searched Monday … searched everywhere,” said another cousin, Fabiola Farnetti, 34, of Palmdale, California. Around 5 a.m. Tuesday, Melissa’s parents positively identified her body. Farnetti said Melissa had been posting photos from the festival on Instagram and Snapchat. The 2015 graduate of California State University, Bakersfield, Melissa Ramirez worked as a member specialist for an auto insurance company. “I’m sure she liked country music. I know she was really into music, period,” Farnetti said. “I never once saw her in a bad mood or upset about anything. She was always positive. Her smile would just brighten up everyone’s day.”
Victim Jordyn Rivera was in her fourth year as a student at California State University, San Bernardino, where she made an impression on everyone from students to the president. University President Tomas Morales said he got to know the 21-year-old Rivera last summer in London during a study abroad program. “As one of her faculty members noted, we will remember and treasure her for her warmth, optimism, energy, and kindness,” Morales wrote in a message to faculty and staff. A native of the Los Angeles suburb of La Verne, Rivera was studying health care management.
Quinton Robbins was the big brother who coached his little brother’s flag football team, the prom king who was nice to everyone regardless of their high school social standing, an outdoorsman who loved to fish and boat around the lake. “The kid was loved by everyone,” said his uncle, Mike Wells. “He was popular in high school, but would walk up to the kid who wasn’t so popular and befriend him and make him feel good.”
Robbins, 20, was among the people killed Sunday in Las Vegas. He died moments after a bullet struck his chest and exited through his lower back. Robbins was up on his knees, looking for a spot to take his girlfriend for shelter, when he was hit, said Wells, recounting Robbins’ girlfriend’s account of the terrifying moments. “I think I got shot,” Robbins looked at her and said before collapsing. “He died probably within seconds after the bullet hit him,” Wells said.
Robbins leaves behind a younger brother and sister, who adored him, as well as his parents, Wells said. His parents sat beside Robbins, who had already died, until about 5 or 6 in the morning, Wells said, before rushing home to make sure they could tell his 11-year-old brother the news themselves. Robbins was an active member of the Mormon church and had hoped to go on a mission before he was diagnosed with diabetes several years ago, Wells said. He worked for the athletic department in his home city of Henderson, Nevada. “The positive impact he had on everyone was huge,” Wells said.
Cameron Robinson, 28, had been looking forward to attending the festival with his boyfriend for days, said friend and colleague Brad Jerbic. Robinson was a records specialist for the city of Las Vegas, and his infectious personality made him the heart of the office, Jerbic, the city attorney, said Tuesday. Robinson had moved to southern Utah about a year ago to be with boyfriend Bobby Eardley, and commuted two hours each way to work every day. “He was just so happy — you could see it in his face,” Jerbic said. “If he was alive, he would say this is the best time of his life.”
The couple was together when Robinson was shot in the neck and bled to death, Jerbic said. Eardley was also struck by shrapnel and suffered minor injuries. “(Eardley) actually held him. He was with him when he died. He tried to stop the bleeding. There was so much chaos,” Jerbic said.
Rocio Guillen Rocha
Rocio Guillen Rocha and her fiancé were in Las Vegas to celebrate a friend’s birthday, and the couple were at the concert when she was shot. She was taken to a hospital but didn’t survive, her family said. A resident of Anaheim, California, she leaves behind four children, including a son born just weeks ago. She was an assistant manager at a California Pizza Kitchen restaurant — and she once struggled through what was once feared to be permanent paralysis, said her eldest son, Marcus Guillen, 18.
“She was paralyzed having my brother” years ago, Guillen told CNN. “She had a blood clot in her spine. The doctors said she would never walk again. She proved everyone wrong. She was able walk. After that, she ran half marathons. “She did everything she could. She always fought for us. I want (people) to remember just how much a fighter she was and how much she worked and how much she provided for us.” She is survived by her fiancé, Chris Jaksha, and her children: Marcus; Christopher, 13; Sofia, 1; and a 1-month-old, Austin.
Lisa Romero, a high school secretary from Gallup, New Mexico, was an “incredible loving and sincere friend, mentor and advocate for students,” the Gallup-McKinley County Public Schools interim superintendent said Monday. District officials confirmed to reporters on Monday that Romero, 48, was among those killed by gunman Stephen Paddock.
“Last night during the mass shooting in Las Vegas we lost one of our staff members,” interim superintendent Mike Hyatt wrote to employees. “Lisa Romero, discipline secretary at Miyamura (High School), was a victim in the shooting. Our prayers go out to her family during this tragic time.” Survivors included Romero-Muniz’s husband, children and grandchildren, Hyatt said.
Christopher Roybal, 28, was described as jovial and fun-loving, despite experiencing intense combat during four tours in the Middle East. “He is a guy that could always put a smile on your face … after all the stuff he had been through,” said David Harman, who founded a company that owns the Colorado gym where Roybal worked. Roybal worked at Crunch Fitness in Corona and Riverside, California, before he moved at the beginning of the year to help open franchises in Colorado Springs.
“He was the guy who if your car broke down in the middle of the night, you could call him and he would come help you,” Harman said. “He is that guy who would find solutions, not report on problems.” Harman said Roybal served in Afghanistan and was coping with the loss of a friend who was killed by an improvised explosive device. Roybal adopted his friend’s bomb-sniffing dog, Bella, but was devastated when she died of old age. Roybal mentioned the dog in a July 18 Facebook post that also included a lengthy description of his experience getting shot at in combat.
He ends the post: “What’s it like to be shot at? It’s a nightmare no amount of drugs, no amount of therapy and no amount of drunk talks with your war veteran buddies will ever be able to escape. Cheers boys.” Roybal’s co-worker, Robert Alexander, said he fell asleep with the television on Sunday night and awoke to the sound of gunshots coming from the speaker. When he remembered that Roybal had gone to Las Vegas for his birthday, he immediately called him but no one answered. He heard Monday morning that his friend had been killed.
“There’s been several times I’ve had to just walk out of the club and have a good cry, go get in my car,” Alexander said. “And I just drove down the street this morning, just go have a good cry ’cause it’s tough.” Alexander described Roybal as a “goofball” who was full of energy and had an infectious smile. “I just had such a fun time any time I was able to interact with him. … Chris had that attraction power. He had the ability to make people want to hang around him,” Alexander said.
Brett Schwanbeck, 61, attended the music festival with his fiancée, Anna Orozco, who survived and told his family he had been fatally shot, according to his niece, Carla Van Hoosen. “Brett was a great man that was funny, generous, kind, loving and so full of joy,” Van Hoosen wrote on a GoFundMe page she started for his family’s expenses. “He would drive 500 miles to help you if you needed it. He loved his family dearly and cherished lake trips, family gatherings, hunting, camping and spending time with his kids and grandkids.” The Bullhead City, Arizona, resident died from his injuries Tuesday at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center in Las Vegas. The retired truck driver is survived by five siblings, three children and five grandchildren.
A one-time high school cheerleader who loved country music, Bailey Schweitzer of Bakersfield, California, went to the Route 91 Harvest Festival to see some of her favorite acts. A day after the 20-year-old’s death, co-workers at the software company where she worked held a vigil. Friends and colleagues gazed at white candles lit in her memory Monday night. “No one could possibly have a bad day when Bailey was around,” said a statement by Fred Brakeman, chief executive officer of Infinity Communications and Consulting, Inc., where Schweitzer was a receptionist.
“If you have ever called or visited our office, she was the perky one that helped direct you to the staff member you needed,” he said. Schweitzer graduated in 2015 from Centennial High School, where she was a member of the cheerleading squad. On social media she often posted photos from Bakersfield Speedway, a dirt auto-racing track that her family owns.
Laura Shipp raised her son Corey by herself, then moved to Las Vegas from Thousand Oaks, California, a few years ago to be closer to him. Both were country music fans, and they went to Route 91 Harvest Festival together, said Laura Shipp’s mother, Joyce Shipp. They were together until just before gunman opened fire Sunday night. “We really don’t know what happened, just that she went to the bathroom and nobody saw her after that,” Joyce Shipp said of her 50-year-old daughter, a dispatcher at an air conditioner company.
After her son, a Marine Corps reservist, spent more than a day trying to find out what had happened to Shipp, he was notified she was dead. “He’s not doing great,” Joyce Shipp said of her grandson. “He’s just trying to get his arms around all this but he’s surrounded by his friends and family. We don’t want to leave him alone at this time.”
Erick Silva, 21, was working as a private security guard at the music festival when he was killed while trying to help people get out of the venue safely. His close friend, Martin Adrian Marin Jr., said he was not surprised Silva died helping others. “He would give the shirt off his back to comfort anyone,” Marin said. “He was such a courageous man.” Marin has saved the last text message Silva sent to him that Sunday morning, before going to work at the festival.
“I want to wish you a lovely and productive day,” Silva texted. “Just know that I am always here.” Silva would send text messages like that almost daily, Marin said. “He was always so sweet and generous and caring,” he said. “It was not hard to fall in love with his personality.”
Tara Roe Smith
Tara Roe Smith, who was 34 and lived in Okotoks, Alberta, was in Las Vegas with her husband, Zach, for a weekend getaway. Her aunt, Val Rodgers, says Roe Smith, a mother of two, died when a gunman open fire on the crowd from the window of a hotel on Sunday night. “She was a beautiful soul. She was a wonderful mother and our family is going to miss her dearly,” Rodgers said when contacted at her home in Brandon, Manitoba, on Tuesday.
Vista Fundamental Elementary in Simi Valley, California, is large as schools go with 681 kindergarteners through sixth graders and receptionist Susan Smith was in the center of it all. “She’s the hub,” Simi Valley Unified School District spokeswoman Jake Finch told The Associated Press Tuesday. “She supported the principal, taking care of the many things that happen in the school. She was patient. She was kind, especially with the kids. Even when it was chaotic she would smile.”
Smith also was very patriotic, Finch added. “Today (Tuesday) everyone at the school is wearing red, white and blue in her honor,” Finch said. Smith, 53, of Simi Valley, was office manager at Vista Elementary for the past three years. She had been with the district since 2001. “She was a big country music fan,” said Finch.
Country music was nearly everything to victim Brennan Stewart, who rarely missed a chance to hear it performed live, according to a statement from his family. The 30-year-old musician from Las Vegas played guitar and wrote his own songs. He always put others first, even in his final moments when he used his body to shield his girlfriend from the gunfire, according to his family. He was an Atlanta Braves and San Francisco 49ers fan and let his family know what they meant to him. “If country music ever disappeared I feel like I would too,” Brennan once wrote on Facebook. “After a long day of work I go pick up the ‘old geetar’ and strum my stresses away.”
Derrick “Bo” Taylor
Derrick “Bo” Taylor, 56, and his girlfriend Denise Cohen both died at the Las Vegas concert. Taylor was a lieutenant in the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. He worked as a commander at the Ventura Conservation Camp, which houses inmates that help California fight wildfires. The two had dated on and off for several years.
Kurt Von Tillow
Kurt Von Tillow was the “most patriotic person you’ve ever met,” brother-in-law Mark Carson told KCRA-TV in Sacramento, California. Von Tillow, 55, was at Sunday’s concert with his wife, daughter and son-in law, sister and niece, the station reported. The sister and niece were injured and expected to survive, while the other three relatives were unharmed. Von Tillow likely was smiling and enjoying the music with his family, sipping on a Coors Light and decked out in red, white and blue, Carson said. A memorial including flowers and American flags has been set up outside Von Tillow’s home in Cameron Park, California.
Neysa Tonks’ employer remembered her as a “great mother, colleague and friend.” The 46-year-old mother of three boys worked for the Las Vegas office of Technologent Inc., which offers technology solutions to companies. She was killed in the shooting rampage at the concert. “Neysa has brought so much joy, fun and laughter to Technologent — she will be greatly missed by all!” said a statement posted by the California-based company.
The company has set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds to help her family. Tonks grew up in Utah. Her brother, AJ Yerage, told the CBS affiliate in Salt Lake City that he felt “lucky” that Tonks was a part of his life and that she loved making jokes. “I can hear her laugh, her voice in my head and my heart right now,” Yerage told KUTV.
Michelle Vo, 32, was the youngest of four siblings in a family from the Bay Area. She worked hard at her job at New York Life insurance group in Pasadena, loved to cheer for the Golden State Warriors and was a pretty good golfer, said sister Cathy Vo Warren. Warren remembered her sister as someone who always wanted to do good for those around her. “You’d need a poet to tell you everything,” said Cathy’s husband, Paul Warren. Born in Southern California, Vo was attending the Las Vegas concert by herself but befriended fellow concertgoer Kody Robertson. The two were together when Vo was shot, and Robertson later helped relatives locate her.
“We’re very thankful that we met Kody,” Warren said. “We’re very thankful for him to be there with Michelle so that she wasn’t alone in her last moments.”
Bill Wolfe Jr.
Members of the Shippensburg Greyhound Wrestling team in southern Pennsylvania are raising money to help the family of coach Bill Wolfe, who is among the dead in Las Vegas. A gofundme page established to accept donations for Wolfe’s family quickly exceeded its goal of $10,000 after being shared hundreds of times on social media, and team booster club said it also was accepting checks to help with family with unexpected expenses. Wolfe initially was listed as missing Monday until his death later was confirmed.
As an engineer, Wolfe spent several years working on major projects for a central Pennsylvania engineering firm. There, a colleague remembered him as being personable, easy to work with and a devoted Christian. Company owner Carl Bert said Wolfe was a close friend and “a class act in every way.” The Chambersburg Public Opinion reported that Wolfe and his wife Robyn were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary in Las Vegas.