Loved ones mourn victims of Las Vegas shooting attack
By JASON DEAREN AND KATHLEEN RONAYNE, Associated Press
They were school teachers and youth football coaches, real estate agents and local business owners.
They were parents, siblings, husbands, wives, neighbors and friends.
They traveled to Las Vegas to see their favorite stars, posting videos and photos to social media.
At least 59 of them never made it home 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.
Details emerged Monday about the lives of those who died, as well as countless more who were injured. Friends waited for text messages that never came, families learned the worst from hospitals and local authorities. In a few cases, families still frantically searched Monday night for news. Many have launched fundraising campaigns for the children and families left behind, while others have vowed to start scholarship funds in their loved ones’ names.
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 15 HOURS’ SEARCHING FOR MISSING WOMAN
Stacee Etcheber of Novata, California, was still missing Monday night.
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.
Stacee, 50, works as a hairdresser.
“She’s just a loving wife, a great mother. She’s tough as nails and just the salt of the earth,” Al said.
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.
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.
ALASKA FISHERMAN HAD A HEARTY LAUGH
Commercial fisherman Adrian Murfitt, 35, of Anchorage, Alaska, was also among the slain, a family member said Monday.
His sister, Shannon 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.”
Gothard described her brother as a man with a hearty laugh and a former competitive hockey player who still dabbled in the game. “His whole life was always around hockey,” she said.
After graduating from high school, he became a fisherman, picking up odd jobs in the offseason.
He had just come off an extremely successful fishing season when he made the trip to Las Vegas with some good friends, Gothard said.
Her brother “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.
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.
WEST VIRGINIA WOMAN DIED IN HUSBAND’S ARMS
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.
KIND-HEARTED NURSE PROTECTED WIFE
Sonny Melton, a registered nurse, died in the shooting, according to The Henry County Medical Center in Paris, Tennessee, where he worked.
His wife, Dr. Heather Melton, an orthopedic surgeon who was with him when shots were fired, survived, the medical center said.
Heather Melton told WZTV in Nashville, Tennessee that her husband “saved my life and lost his.” She says her husband was the most kind-hearted, loving man she ever met.
Friend Jeremy Butler told the Paris (Tennessee) Post-Intelligencer that Melton was shielding Heather Melton from gunfire when he was fatally shot.
‘WOMAN OF STRONG FAITH’ IS RECOVERING
Danae Gibbs has always been a huge fan of country music concerts, said her friend, Jennifer Draper of Cedar Park, Texas, and she was thrilled to be at the concert.
Draper wrote in an email to The Associated Press that Gibbs, 23, who recently graduated from Texas Tech University of Lubbock, was shot at the concert in Las Vegas and is recovering.
Draper started a GoFundMe page to help Gibbs and her family with the medical expenses. On the page is a photo of Gibbs wearing a graduation cap and red Converse sneakers, jumping in the air with a huge smile in front of her university.
“Danae is a strong young woman and I firmly believe she will make it through this long road to recovery!” Draper wrote. “She is a woman of strong Faith and has hundreds of people praying for her! We love Danae and cannot wait to see her!”
REAL ESTATE AGENT WAS SHOT REPEATEDLY BUT SURVIVED
Real estate agent and father of three older children Rob McIntosh, 52, of North Pole, Alaska, was near the front of the stage with friends when the shooting began, according to friend and real estate broker Mike Vansickle. He was hit repeatedly but survived, Vansickle said.
“From just getting off the phone with the family, he took three bullets to his body,” said Vansickle. “He just came out of surgery, and he’s going to make it.”
In a personal note on his real estate website, McIntosh describes himself as enjoying the outdoors in Alaska, where he also operates a business called Santa’s Fireworks.
“Whether I’m fishing, snow machining, hunting, steel welding or building my own home or cabin; I stay active all year round,” McIntosh wrote.
Vansickle described McIntosh as being strong.
“He’s been though lots of adversity,” said Vansickle. “He’ll get through all this and come out with some stories to tell.”
HIGH SCHOOL SECRETARY REMEMBERED AS LOVING, SINCERE
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, died sometime after a 64-year-old man fired multiple weapons.
“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. Officials announced a candlelight vigil in honor of Romero-Muniz set for Monday night.
CANADIAN MOTHER, MECHANIC’S APPRENTICE AMONG THOSE KILLED
Two Canadians – a mother of four and a man just days from his 24th birthday – were among those killed in the shooting.
Jessica Klymchuk, of Valleyview, Alberta, and Jordan McIldoon, 23, of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, died Sunday night in Las Vegas.
Klymchuk, 28, was an educational assistant, librarian and bus driver for St. Stephen’s School, said the Holy Family Catholic Regional Division.
“The scope of this tragedy is worldwide, and we are feeling its impact here at home,” the division’s superintendent, Betty Turpin, said in a statement.
A post on Klymchuk’s Facebook page says she got engaged in April, and was in Vegas with her fiancé.
British Columbia Premier John Horgan said in a statement that Mclldoon, a mechanic’s apprentice, was among those killed.
“We only had one child,” Al and Angela McIldoon, told the CBC. “We just don’t know what to do.”
Horgan offered condolences and says flags will be dropped to half-staff on the province’s Parliament buildings and on government buildings in Maple Ridge.
SCHOOL DISTRICT EMPLOYEE ‘WAS ALWAYS SMILING’
Susan Smith, 53, a resident of Simi Valley, California, near Los Angeles, had worked for the local school district since 2001 as the office manager at Vista Elementary School.
“Susan was wonderful with the kids and the staff and was an integral part of the school community here,” said Jake Finch, the public information officer for the district. “She was the hub of everything that happened at the school. If a kid is sick, she’s the one calling the parents and no matter how chaotic things got here, she was always smiling.”
Finch said the school district learned about Smith’s death from friends who had been with her at the music festival. She said when teachers and other staff members in the district and at the school arrived early Monday morning, most of them had not yet heard that Smith was among those who were killed.
She said counselors were dispatched to the school to talk to both staff members and students and when students were told, they took part in activities such as writing letters and making cards for Smith.
“It doesn’t sound like much but it gives kids something to latch on to, to make sure they felt like they were able to help in some way,” she said.
She said Smith was married with two adult children, adding that Smith’s love for country music was well-known.
CALIFORNIA OFFICER, HIS GIRLFRIEND INJURED
A four-year veteran of the Ontario, California, police department was shot in the head during Sunday’s shooting, Ontario Police Sgt. Jeff Higbee said.
Officer Michael Gracia was injured, as was his girlfriend.
“He’s always real personable, upbeat, a real friendly guy,” Higbee said.
POLICE RECORDS TECHNICIAN ‘WILL BE GREATLY MISSED’
Rachael Parker, a police records technician, was shot and ultimately died in the hospital, the Manhattan Beach Police Department said.
Parker was among four department employees who were attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival while off-duty. Another suffered minor injuries.
“She was employed with the Manhattan Beach Police Department for 10 years and will be greatly missed,” the department said in a statement.
HOCKEY COACH SHOT IN CHEST, IN STABLE CONDITION
Nick Robone, an assistant hockey coach at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, was shot in the chest, the school said.
The Rebels men’s ice hockey team said in a statement Monday that Robone had surgery to remove a bullet.
General Manager Zee Khan says Robone is breathing with help from a ventilator and is in stable condition.
The team says the bullet missed Robone’s lung, and he is expected to fully recover. The team says he will be hospitalized “for the near future.”
DISTRICT MOURNS SPECIAL ED TEACHER’S DEATH
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.
INJURED LAW STUDENT ON BED REST
Kristin Babik, a law student at the University of Florida in Las Vegas for an internship at the Clark County district attorney’s office, suffered broken ribs and a collapsed lung in the shooting, the school said.
“Kristin is on bed rest for now,” an email from the law school’s dean said. “We look forward to welcoming her back to Gainesville as soon as she recovers.”
NORTH DAKOTA REAL ESTATE AGENT INJURED
A real estate agent from North Dakota was among the hundreds of concertgoers wounded in a shooting rampage at an outdoor show in Las Vegas.
Andrew Gudmunson of Minot, North Dakota, was at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, a trauma center near the Vegas strip. His condition was not immediately available.
Gudmunson works at Century 21 Action Realtors, said the firm’s managing broker, Dorothy Martwick. Gudmunson was attending the concert with his girlfriend and another couple, she said.
MINNESOTA NATIVE WOUNDED IN ATTACK
A Minnesota native living in Las Vegas was in critical condition after being wounded in the shooting.
Philip Aurich was at University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, according to his alma mater, Concordia Academy in Roseville, Minnesota.
The private Christian school learned he was wounded from Aurich’s brother Ben, spokesman Chris Roth said.
Aurich graduated in 1999 from Concordia Academy, where his father, Mike, was a longtime teacher and athletic director. Aurich graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2005 and is area president at First Option Mortgage in Las Vegas.
Associated Press Writers Rachel D’Oro in Anchorage, Alaska; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; Julie Watson in San Diego, California; Don Babwin in Chicago; Rob Gillies in Toronto; Mike Balsamo in Los Angeles; Mark Thiessen in Anchorage, Alaska; Jeff Baenen in Minneapolis; and Russell Contreras in Albuquerque, New Mexico contributed to this report. Dearen reported from Gainesville, Florida, and Ronayne reported from Sacramento, California.
This version has been corrected to show the name of wounded college student Karessa Royce’s cousin is Marissa Nino.
For complete coverage of the Las Vegas shooting, click here: https://apnews.com/tag/LasVegasmassshooting