‘You were always there’: Las Vegas shooting victims mourned
LAS VEGAS (AP) Through tears and in heart-wrenching tributes, relatives and friends are remembering the dozens of people killed in the shooting massacre on the Las Vegas strip.
Co-workers gazed silently into flickering candles at a vigil for one victim, a former cheerleader from California who loved country music.
Relatives of another victim waited for hours before getting the worst news imaginable – that a mother of two who was initially listed as missing had died. A man who loved the outdoors was recalled for his smile – wide and freely given.
Here’s a glimpse at some of the people who died after a gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel onto a crowd of more than 22,000 below at a country music festival.
Husband protects wife on anniversary
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 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.
‘He’s our only son’: A Wisconsin father mourns
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.
Mother-daughter concert date ends in tragedy
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.”
California woman remembered as ‘the perky one’
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.
‘Everybody started running for cover and the guy kept shooting’
Thomas Day Jr. was a big country music fan so there was no doubt when he heard about the Route 91 Harvest he would go to Las Vegas. And he’d take his whole family with him.
“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. “He is the one who got them all together.”
Day, 54, was one of 59 people who shot to death by a man who sprayed the Sunday night concert with bullets from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Day’s father said he was at home when he received a frantic telephone call from his grandson and one of his granddaughters. “They were standing right there and they said he and another young man there both took a bullet in the head,” said the 75-year-old Day. “Everybody started running for cover and the guy kept shooting.”
Day said none of his grandchildren were struck by bullets, and he said that a friend of his son rushed him to a hospital but there was nothing doctors could do.
“His friend said he was still breathing when he got there, the hospital said he wasn’t,” said Day. “But who knows.”
Day said he moved to the Las Vegas area about three years ago after he raised his family in Corona, California, a community just outside Riverside and about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles. A builder, he raised his son in his business and watched as his son became a successful and respected builder in his own right.
“He was very well-liked in the Riverside area,” his father said.
Struggling to speak about his son, Day mentioned how he “played softball and everything’ and how he loved his three daughters and son and his two grandchildren and how Day’s children remained close to their father and jumped at the chance to drive to Las Vegas to attend a country music show.
“We always had fun together,” he said.
Nevada outdoorsman known for laugh, smile
Quinton Joe Robbins, 20, died early Monday morning from his gunshot wounds, according to a gofundme post from his family.
Robbins worked for the city of Henderson, Nevada and loved the outdoors, including fishing and snowboarding, according to his Facebook page.
His sister, Skylar Robbins, wrote a tribute to him and posted it to Twitter late Monday night. “My best friend was taken from me today,” she wrote. “You were always there to give me advice when I needed it and it was always the best advice.”
Robbins’ cousin Felicia Walker wrote in a post on the family’s gofundme page that he “had this contagious laugh and a wonderful smile that he was always quick to give.”
Missing wrestling coach confirmed dead
Police in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, have confirmed that the family of local wrestling coach Bill Wolfe says he was one of the 59 people killed in the Las Vegas shootings.
The police chief’s office referred The Associated Press Tuesday to a post on the Shippensburg Greyhound Wrestling Facebook page.
“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,” read a statement posted Tuesday morning. “Please continue to hold our entire family as well as those affected across the nation in your unending prayers.”
The police department says Wolfe’s family has asked for privacy.
Wolfe initially was listed as missing Monday until his death later was confirmed.
Shippensburg is southwest of Harrisburg. Members of the wrestling team are in elementary through high school. Wolfe was the team’s head elementary coach.
Japanese baseball player gets news of cousin killed in Las Vegas
A former New York Yankee playing baseball in Japan is cutting his season short because his cousin was killed in the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Japanese media report that Brandon Laird will leave for the U.S. on Wednesday.
Public broadcaster NHK says Laird’s 22-year-old cousin Christiana Duarte was one of the 59 victims.
Laird is a third baseman with Japan’s Nippon Ham Fighters. He was a contender for this year’s home run title with 32 home runs, three behind leader Alfredo Despaigne of the SoftBank Hawks.
He also played for the Houston Astros before coming to Japan in 2015.
High school sweethearts: One survives, one dies
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 were high school sweethearts and they have two children.
Jenny Parks was a kindergarten teacher for the Lancaster School District in California.
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.
Maddin now is trying to raise funds for her friend, Bobby Parks, on a GoFundMe page. Bobby Parks was shot in the arm and hand and is awaiting surgery, Maddin said.
“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.”
Veteran remembered as jovial, hard-working
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, 28, 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.
“As far as responsibility and discipline and work ethic, there wasn’t any question about him coming on board with us,” said Harman, who has known Roybal for about 4 ½ years. “He was a good hard worker, a grinder.”
“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 added. “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.
“That dog saved his life quite a few times,” Harman said.
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.”
A grueling search for a missing woman, and then the worst
Stacee Etcheber of Novato, California, was listed as missing for hours before her family found got the worst possible news: 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 had been 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 has not heard from Stacee since, 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 worst fears had been 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.”
Alaska woman was local hockey fan
Dorene Anderson was the second person from Anchorage, Alaska, confirmed killed in the mass shooting in Las Vegas, her husband’s employer said Monday.
Anderson’s husband, John, works for the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. The CEO of that organization sent an email to employees Monday informing them that Dorene had been killed in the shooting.
Anderson described herself on her Facebook page as a stay-at-home wife and mother whose outside interest was a passion for the Alaska Aces, a minor league hockey team that recently disbanded and was sold to the parent company of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. She had been a member of the Aces’ “Cowbell Crew.”
Stacy Shubert, the director of governmental relations and public affairs for the corporation, told The Associated Press that the family has requested privacy.
Friend helped get wounded college student to ambulance
Karessa Royce, a 22-year-old Las Vegas local, was rushed to an ambulance by a friend after she was shot in the shoulder, said Marissa Nino, her cousin who is acting as a family spokesperson.
Royce, a student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is in the intensive care unit following surgery for a collapsed lung. She is expected to survive, Nino said. Royce had no identification on her at the concert, so it took the family some time to locate her, Nino said.
Royce is one of five children and is studying hospitality.
Royce’s friend “definitely saved her life,” Nino said. Royce cannot speak, but her friend shared what happened with the family and has been in the hospital by Royce’s side since, Rios said.
Off-duty officer coached kids, was respected leader
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.
‘I can hear her laugh…right now’
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.
‘Cheerful young lady with a warm heart’
Angela “Angie” Gomez died in the Las Vegas shooting, according to a statement from the Riverside Unified School District in California.
Gomez graduated from Riverside Poly High School in 2015, where she was a cheerleader. School staff remembered her as a “fun-loving young lady with a great sense of humor.”
Gomez participated in the Riverside Children’s Theater and was involved in choir. The school district said Gomez was a hard worker who “always challenged herself academically.”
Friend Lupe Avila wrote in a tribute to Gomez online that she was a “cheerful young lady with a warm heart and loving spirit.”
Elementary students remember ‘the hub’ of their school
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, who added that Smith was with friends at the Las Vegas concert. Those friends contacted Smith’s family after the shooting.
Third Canadian among Las Vegas dead
A third Canadian is among the dead in a mass shooting at a country music show in Las Vegas.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley extended her condolences Tuesday to the friends and family of Calla Medig from the mountain town of Jasper.
Notley has also extended her condolences to the family of Jessica Klymchuk, who was from the small Alberta community of Valleyview.
Jordan McIldoon, who was 23 and from Maple Ridge, British Columbia, was also killed.