Monday, December 18, 2017
   
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Remembering the Victims of the Las Vegas Massacre

ripvicvegasfrontAt least 59 people were killed Monday morning at a Las Vegas music festival, in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. These are their stories.

Sonny Melton, 29

The Tennessee native was at the festival with his wife, Heather.
She told a local TV station that Sonny, who was a registered nurse, saved her life while bullets felled their fellow concertgoers.
“He saved my life. He grabbed me and started running when I felt him get shot in the back,” Heather told WSMV. “I want everyone to know what a kind-hearted, loving man he was, but at this point, I can barely breathe.”
The couple had just gotten married last summer. Their wedding site on TheKnot.com read, “We were the couple that never should have met, fallen in love or had a future together....but life is funny and we believe God brought us together as soul mates.”

Quinton Robbins, 20

The University of Nevada-Las Vegas student was at the concert with his girlfriend, Ally Plumlee.
“He was an amazing young man who had a huge heart and would do anything for anyone,” the victim’s aunt, Doreen Hawk-Wells, wrote on Facebook. “He overcame health issues and did not let them interfere with living his life to the fullest.”
He was also passionate about sports and worked as a recreational assistant for Henderson, Nevada.
Tyce Jones told Newsweek that his friend was “a pay-it-forward kinda guy” and that he “always had a smile on his face and was a nice guy. He loved his family and loved to coach his little brother’s flag football team. He will be missed.”

Jordan McIldoon, 23

The British Columbia, Canada native was about to start trade school and was working as a heavy-duty mechanic apprentice, his parents said.
He was with his girlfriend, Amber Bereza, who was unharmed in the shooting. Bereza’s brother, Cole, wrote on Facebook, “You'll always be a hero jordan thank you for saving my sister you forever be in my heart.”
A woman named Heather Goozle posted on Facebook that McIldoon died in her arms. “I am right outside of the festival grounds. We are not allowed to go anywhere. I am with a young man who died in my arms! RIP Jordan mcildoon from British Columbia,” she wrote. “I can’t believe this just happened!!!”
One friend described him as “one of the kindest, funny and most sincere guys” she knew.
“Every single party I [threw] he was always the best person to have there. Or to just hang out with him at the skatepark sitting on the tailgate of his truck. This is beyond words,” Alina Andreea Diaconu wrote on Facebook.

Sandy Casey, 35

The southern California special education took a weekend trip to the festival with a small group of teachers and staff. While others made it back safely, she did not.
“We have received information that one of our MBMS Special Education teachers, Sandy Casey (formerly Sandy McDermott), was fatally wounded. This is unbelievably sad and tragic,” Manhattan Beach Middle School’s Superintendent Mike Matthews wrote in an email to the school, according to The Daily Breeze.
“I can’t even begin to comprehend this as it hits home. This has to stop,” wrote Derek Michael Billings, who sends his children to another nearby elementary school. That school’s principal attended the festival with Casey.
Her partner, Christopher Willemse, posted a short note about her death: “The love and support that she and I have received during these trying times just shows how important this wonderful woman truly was. She lived life to the fullest and made me the happiest man in the world. I’m so grateful for the kind words and gestures, it means the world to me, especially for her.”

Jessica Klymchuk, 28

She had just gotten engaged. On Sept. 24, just one week before the shooting, her fiance Brent Irla posted a photo of his fiancé with the words, “You and me together is my favourite place to be.”
“Brent you are heaven sent. You are my one and only, You're one of a kind,” she replied in the comments.
The single mother of four from Alberta, Canada, was with Irla when she was killed.
She was a librarian and bus driver for a Catholic elementary school, the Globe and Mail reported.

Angela Gomez

The former high school cheerleader, was at the concert with her boyfriend. The high school confirmed her death on Monday.
“We received word this morning that 2015 alumnus Angie Gomez, was involved in the Vegas shooting last night,” The Riverside Polytechnic High School PTSA wrote on Facebook. “While details are still emerging, we did receive confirmation that Angie succumbed to her injuries.”
Veronika Maldonado said her friend “was a light in all of our lives” and “always had a smile on her face.”
“There’s absolutely nothing she wouldn’t do for her family, they meant the world to her,” Maldonado said. “She was studying to be a nurse and she would have been amazing, she was a natural caregiver.”
Friends quickly set up a fundraiser in her name and remembered her on social media.
“My heart is in shambles and none of this feels real,” one friend tweeted. “8 yrs of friendship & we had so much more to go. rest easy twin, you are so loved.”

Bailey Schweitzer, 20

She had graduated high school in 2015 and was just beginning her life.
She recently posted a Facebook video showing photographs of local children enjoying rides on her family’s race track.
“Bailey has been everybody’s favorite in some way or another. She has been there for anyone and everyone who knows her, young and old. I missed you already and now it’s really beyond belief,” one friend, Lyle CK Dyson, wrote on Facebook.
Her coworkers at Infinity Communications & Consulting planned a candlelight vigil to mourn her on Monday. Infinity’s CEO Fred Brakeman said Schweitzer “was always the ray of sunshine in our office on a cloudy day.”
“No one could possibly have a bad day when Bailey was around,” he said in a statement. “If you have ever called or visited our office, she was the perky one that helped direct you to the staff member you needed.”
“Our friend and colleague will be greatly missed and there will never be a replacement for her in our hearts.”

Rachael Parker, 33

She was with some fellow coworkers from Manhattan Beach, California when the shots rang out.
She was a records technician for the force for 10 years, the agency said in a statement. She died at the hospital.
Police spokeswoman Kristie Colombo said Parker mostly worked the front desk.
“She’s a very popular person. A lot of people knew her as the face of the department when you come in,” Colombo told The Daily Beast. “She’s the first person you encounter, so she did personally affect a lot of people’s lives ... and put smiles on people’s faces.”

Lisa Romero, 48

Her family was her world, according to her Facebook bio. She was a disciplinary secretary at Miyamura High School in Gallup, New Mexico.
Her cousin described her as a “happy-go-lucky person.”
“She loved her kids and husband. And for this to happen so senselessly. It’s a heartbreaking day for us all,” Ashley Romero told HuffPost.
Gallup-McKinley County Schools described the longtime employee in a press release as “an incredible loving and sincere friend, mentor, and advocate for students.”
“You were a good woman, may God welcome you into his heavenly Kingdom,” her cousin, Robert Romero, wrote on Facebook.

Charleston Hartfield, 34

He was a Las Vegas police officer, youth football coach, and military veteran. To his players, he was known as “Coach Chucky.”
In a Facebook post Monday, the Henderson Cowboys mourned their beloved mentor.
“Coach Hartfield touched many lives both on and off the field. He was a great man who we all lost way too early,” the team said. “Players and alumni, Coach Chucky would want you to keep to the plan and keep moving forward.
“Use as motivation and inspiration; not for sadness and sorrow.”
Friend Troy Rhett told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “I don’t know a better man than Charles.” Stan King said his friend, who was in the National Guard, was “the most true-blue American guy I’ve ever met.”
On Facebook, he described himself as a father, husband, and self-published author. Days before the massacre, he was tagged in a Facebook picture of his book, Memoirs of a Public Servant, which detailed his experiences as a Vegas police officer.
He was off duty at the time of the massacre.

Susan Smith, 53

She was an office manager at Vista Fundamental Elementary School in Simi Valley, California. A Facebook post from Vista PTA said that the 16-year veteran of the Simi Valley Unified School District would be missed.
“Our hearts are full of sorrow for the passing of Susan Smith. She was a wonderful woman, an advocate for our children, and a friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family,” the post read.
People remembered her “endless smiles” and her “sweet spirit” when Vista PTA announced the news.
“She was always such a help with her positive, upbeat, can-do attitude. It was a pleasure to work with her. Her positive attitude always made my job easier. Prayers and love to her family and her school family,” wrote former colleague Gayle Callaway.

Adrian Murfitt, 35

The professional fisherman traveled from Alaska to Las Vegas to celebrate a fishing run, his older sister Shannon Gothard told KTUU. He was shot in the neck while he took photos with his friend Brian MacKinnon near the stage, according to Alaska Dispatch News.
“Sadly he died in my arms,” MacKinnon wrote on Facebook.
Gothard described her brother as somebody who loved fishing, his dogs and country music.
“He was a big country music fan. He had a really beautiful singing voice,” Gothard told KTUU.

Jennifer Parks

The kindergarten teacher and mother of two young children had just begun her third year at a Palmdale, California school, where the district superintendent Regina Rossall remembered her as “a wonderful teacher.”
She “loved her job, she loved her family,” Rossall told the San Francisco Chronicle. “She was a teacher who loved coming to school, you could see it in her face. It’s been a very sad day.”
Her husband Bobby was also injured during the concert, but survived after surgery for bullet wounds on his arm and hand, Fox 5 San Diego reports. The couple had been in Las Vegas visiting Parks’ two brothers who live in the city.
“She was truly one of the most loving people you could ever hope to meet,” her husband’s uncle told the station. “She always went out of her way to help anybody.”

Christopher Roybal, 28

He was at the concert with his mother, Debbie Allen, who said her son arrived earlier than her so they were not together when the gunfire started. “I was trying to run towards where I thought he might be, but a man wouldn't let me. He pulled me away and said, ‘you can't run towards the gunfire.’” He was a Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan. Allen said Monday was the “saddest day of my life.”

Neysa Tonks, 45

The Utah native and mother of three sons moved to Las Vegas 10 years ago. She sold software as an employee of Technologent. (Technologent has set up a GoFundMe page on behalf of her family.) Her brother, AJ Yerage, told 2News that his sister was "always laughing, always joking, always sarcastic."
“How happy and lucky I feel that she was part of my life,” he said. “I can hear her laugh, her voice in my head and my heart right now.”

Jennifer Irvine

The San Diego attorney was described as a “tenacious litigator” on the website for her own law firm where she practiced family and criminal law.
She was an avid snowboarder and enjoyed reading and practicing hot yoga. She also had a black-belt in Taekwon-do. This year she had hoped to go sky-diving and learn indoor rock climbing, according to her website.
Her friend Kyle Kraska, a reporter at CBS 8, described her as a “shining light.”
“You brought so much joy to others, including me,” he wrote on Facebook. “You left this world singing & dancing, but far too soon. I will never forget you or any of the happy moments we shared. You made this world a better place simply by your presence.”

Cameron Robinson

He lived in Utah, but made Las Vegas a second home, commuting into the city for his job as a legal records specialist. He was at the festival with his boyfriend, his sister told the Las Vegas Review Journal. His boyfriend was also injured but is expected to survive.
“He was full of life and love and so much passion,” a statement on a GoFundMe page for Robinson’s family reads. “He accomplished so much in such a short time and touched the lives of so many.”

Hannah Ahlers

Her family and friend would turn to her when they had troubles, her father-in-law told the Review Journal. She was a “loving, caring and devoted mother” of three children, ages three, 11, and 14. She lived with her children and her husband Brian in Murrietta, California.
She and Brian were at the festival with two other couples. “She could have lit the world up with her smile,” her father-in-law said.

Carrie Barnette, 34

She worked on the culinary team at Disney California Adventure for the past 10 years. The company described her in a statement as “beloved by her friends and colleagues”
“A senseless, horrific, act, and a terrible loss for so many. We mourn a wonderful member of the Disney family: Carrie Barnette. Tragic,” Disney CEO Robert Iger tweeted.
Friends remembered her on Facebook as someone who loved hummingbirds and would always stop to gaze when she spotted one because they reminded her of her grandparents.
Joey Castillo described his sister-in-law as “a very loving person.”
“She always put others before herself, was a very hard worker and she loved going to her music concerts,” he told the Orange County Register. “She loved her nieces and nephews. She was just a joy to have around and very caring. She was my wife’s sister and her best friend. She loved working at Disney’s California Adventure.”

Kurt von Tillow, 55

He was with his family at the concert when he was shot.
Mark Carson described his brother-in-law as an avid golfer and “the most patriotic person you’ve ever met. 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,” he told KCRA 3. “He'll be really missed."
Steve Marchi wrote on Facebook that he was “a dear friend who lit up the room with his famous belly laugh.”
“If Kurt was in your foursome, at your dinner table, or in the bar with you, you knew you were in for a good time,” he wrote. “Beyond that Kurt was a wonderful husband to his wife Mary Jo and father to his children Matthew and Jessica.”

Denise Burditis, 52

The West Virginia native died in her husband’s arms during the shooting. The mother of two and grandmother of five took a smiling photo of herself and her husband at the festival hours before the shooting, according to a Facebook post written by her niece, Megan McDonald.
“So tragic and senseless!!,” McDonald wrote, “Hug those you love a little tighter tonight because tomorrow is never promised.”

Rhonda LeRocque, 42

She attended the festival with her husband, her six-year-old daughter and father-in-law when a bullet fatally struck her as she stood with her family, according to WCVB.
“Rhonda LeRocque was a person full of life, she loved her family with all her heart . She was a great example of what a Wife, Mother, Sister, Daughter and Niece should be and touched so many others lives,” her aunt Gloria Murdock wrote on a GoFundMe campaign set up to help the family with funeral costs.
She came from a devout family and was a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation in Wilmington.
“May she rest now until her name is called and she is awakened in paradise,” her sister Korina Champagne wrote on Facebook.

Erick Silva, 22

He was a security guard working the festival, and his boss, James Garrett, posted on Facebook that Silva always tried to protect others.
“I know that he loved being Security. I know that he was doing all that he could do to keep guest safe from harms way before his life was taken. To me he will always be Team CSC Las Vegas and a HERO in my eyes. Rest easy my friend,” Garrett wrote.

Thomas Day Jr., 54

He and his four adult children went to the festival to spend time together. While his kids escaped harm, Day did not.
“He was the best dad. That’s why the kids were with him,” his father Thomas Day Sr. told the Los Angeles Times. “His kids are with me right now. They’re crushed,” said Day.
Rob Scott celebrated his 20 year friendship with Day on Facebook.
“He was a great man! He always left people better than he found them. He was my brother,” Scott wrote. Marlene Yehle Walker commented, “Such a kind person, he will be missed.”

Dana Gardner, 52

She was a deputy recorder-county clerk for San Bernardino County, California. The mother of three was at the concert with her daughter Kayla. Later this month she was going to welcome the birth of her grandchild, her son’s first baby. Friends started a GoFundMe to help her family.

John Phippen, 56

Both he and his son, an off-duty EMT, were shot. Travis Phippen carried John to safety, but it was already too late. Phippen left behind six children including a 14-year-old daughter and one grandson. His wife died three years prior. Family friend and neighbor Leah Nagyivanyi created a GoFundMe page to help his children cope with their loss.
“If you didn't know John you surely missed out. He had a heart that was larger than life and a personality to match. You felt like you knew him for years the first time you met him,” she wrote. “Even if you were someone he had never met before but were in need, he was there for you.”

Melissa Ramirez, 26

A desperate search for the California native ended in sadness. After turning to social media for word of her missing cousin, Arihel Ramirez posted that she had died.
“We held on to hope until the last second. There's no words to describe the pain my family goes thru at this moment. My heart aches I don't understand why these things have to happen. Rest In Peace Melissa Ramirez ,” Arihel wrote.

Stacee Etcheber, 50
She was separated from her husband, a San Francisco police officer, during the gunfire when he stayed to help get injured people to safety and told her to run for her life. The San Francisco Police Department said she “was a beloved mother of two young children and a well-loved hair stylist.” Her children are 10 and 13 years old. Friends remember her “knockout smile” and for being “tough as nails.”

Brennan Stewart, 30

The Las Vegas native loved cowboy boots and country music. His friends filled his Facebook page with videos of Stewart playing songs like “You Should Be Here” by Cole Swindell on his guitar.
“I'll never forget watching Rodney Carrington and singing his songs with you while laughing til we couldn't breathe,” his friend Tiffany Nicole posted on Facebook. “I love you I love you I love you. I will see you again.”
Every photo shows him laughing, smiling or with his arm around a friend. One post asks people who knew him to wear boots in honor of “his Country Lovin, Heel Kickin, Boot Rockin' self.”
“I can't believe we won't ever see you walk in a room and light it up with your warm smile again. Cousin, you were one of best. I always enjoyed our time together. Glad I got to see you Saturday even if it was just a hello and a quick hug. RIP Brennan Stewart You are our angel now,” Jessyca Stewart wrote on Facebook.

Christiana Duarte, 22

She graduated from the University of Arizona in May and had just started her first full-time job as a fan service associate for the Los Angeles Kings, which a friend online said had been her “dream job.”
The California native was at the concert with Ariel Romero, her friend and her brother’s girlfriend, who was shot in the face and is being hospitalized with a fractured jaw. Her older brother is White Sox minor leaguer Mikey Duarte. The two girls had been in Las Vegas with their family for the weekend. She was an alumna of the Sigma Kappa sorority, which started a GoFundMe to help her family.
“There will never be enough words to express how I'm feeling right now, and how I will miss our talks about how our lives in media would conquer the world,” friend Sydney Webb wrote on Facebook. “I am in complete shock, and my soul feels empty knowing you're no longer here to bless all of us here with your life, but I will forever keep you in my heart in all that I do. Our dream is still alive, and in my soul, you always will be too.

Dorene Anderson, 49

The Alaskan mother of three was also a wife and football fan could not wait for her Vegas vacation. She posted a photo of palm trees and a blue sky last week then commented that she hoped to come back in a few months. Then tragedy struck.
Her daughter, Stephanie, updated her Facebook profile to a photo of her smiling next to her mom.
“Dorene was the most beautiful, kind and giving woman I have ever known. She loved her husband and girls with a passion we could never match,” wrote Gayle Simmons White to KTUU.

Austin Davis, 29

He was his parents only child and “their pride and joy to every extent,” according to a GoFundMe page to help his family.
“He was the man’s man,” Friend Katelyn Hood wrote on the fundraising page. “He worked so very hard and took the most pride in that and anything he did. Austin didn't half-a** anything in life. If he knew u, he loved you. That's just how he cared for people.”
The Riverside, California native first met his girlfriend Aubree Hennigan nine years ago when they were in high school. He was a pipefitter for UA Local 36.
“Tonight we lost an amazing man,” Hennigan wrote on Facebook. “Austin, my love, I can't believe this happened. You didn't deserve this.”
Andrea Brooks Taft wrote on Facebook that she and her friends saw him on the ground during the attack and carried him to a truck that would take him to the hospital. She said they kept talking to him while he was in and out of consciousness.

Kelsey Meadows, 28

The California native was a substitute teacher with a passion for children.
“Kelsey was smart, compassionate and kind. She had a sweet spirit and a love for children. Words cannot adequately capture the sorrow felt by her students, colleagues and friends in learning of her passing," said Taft Union High School Principal Mary Alice Finn during a statement according to Bakersfield Now.
“My family and I want to take a minute and thank everyone that has been trying to help us locate my sister. So it is with an absolutely shattered heart that I let everyone know that Kelsey did not survive this tragic event,” her brother Brad posted on Facebook.

Michelle Vo, 34

She immigrated to the United States from Vietnam with her mom and two sisters as a child and was attending her first concert when she was killed.
“Michelle Vo was such an inspiration to so many of us here at New York Life Greater Pasadena,” co-worker Vivian Ha wrote on Facebook. “Anytime I had a question she would always be there, in the computer lab, on the phone, in the lobby, etc. I'm in shock. You were a true girl boss and will truly be missed.”
Friend Kimo Huynh Khuu wrote on Facebook that she was “beautiful inside and out” and the “smartest and funnest women I've ever met.”

Source: The Daily Beast

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