Hannah Ahlers, 34
from Beaumont, Calif.
Hannah Ahlers’s life was wrapped up in her family, her brother Lance Miller said. She was the mother of three children, ages 3, 11 and 14, and married her husband, Brian Ahlers, when she was 17. She loved going to the river, four-wheeling and watching her daughter’s volleyball matches, Miller, 45, said.
“She was our sunshine,” Miller said. “The ones that knew her know how special she was.”
Hannah and Brian Ahlers were at the concert when a bullet struck her in the head, Miller confirmed. Brian Ahlers sent Miller a message to read on his behalf while he grieves his wife, whom he called “beautiful inside and out.”
“She was a full-time housewife and mommy and she was amazing at it,” Brian Ahlers told Miller. “She wasn’t too good for anybody.”
— Ellie Silverman
Heather Warino Alvarado, 35
from Enoch, Utah
The mother of three was happiest when she was with her family, and they loved traveling on cruises or going on day trips together, her husband, Albert, told the Cedar City Fire Department. Heather Warino Alvarado would do “ANYTHING” for her children, according to a statement on the department’s Facebook page.
Alvarado died of injuries from the concert shooting, said Cedar City, Utah, police Sgt. Jerry Womack. Albert Alvarado is a Cedar City firefighter.
Albert Alvarado wanted to share “the human side” of his wife, so he asked the fire department to post how she “always saw the good in others” and “spent her whole life serving others in her family and community.”
The family has asked for privacy while they grieve.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Alvarado/Warino family,” the Cedar City Fire Department wrote in a news release. “At the family’s request we are asking for you to respect their privacy and give them a chance to grieve and process their loss.”
— Ellie Silverman
Dorene Anderson was at the concert with her husband, John, and daughters, her friend Stefanie Lawhorn wrote on Facebook.
"We were great childhood friends who just reunited a couple months ago," Lawhorn wrote. "She was a great friend and wonderful mother who loved her family more than anything!!!"
"She was the most amazing wife, mother and person this world ever had," Anderson's husband, John Anderson, said in a statement. "We are so grateful and lucky for the time that we did have with her."
Kimberly Templeton Sant went to high school with Anderson in Tigard, Ore.
"She was much loved by family and friends and remembered for her kindness and her smile," she wrote on Facebook.
— Rachel Weiner
Carrie Barnette, 34
The first message on Carrie Barnette's Facebook page appeared at 11:37 p.m. "Please please please let us know your ok!"
Maybe she had simply lost her phone in the chaos at the Route 91 Harvest festival, her friends and family must have thought. If she could get to the Internet, she might check Facebook and be able to let everyone know she was safe. As hours passed, more posts appeared, with emoji, exclamation points and colorful backgrounds that allowed the text to appear bigger and more urgent.
It wasn’t until 1:38 p.m. that one of the posts indicated what might have happened. “Omg,” a friend wrote. “I can’t believe it.”
By Monday evening, Barnette’s death was confirmed by her employer, the Walt Disney Co. She worked at Disney’s parks in California and was 34 years old. Disney chief executive Robert Iger said in a tweet that Barnette’s death was “tragic.”
“A senseless, horrific, act, and a terrible loss for so many,” Iger said.
After the news, the messages on Barnette’s Facebook page — which was converted into a memorial — continued.
“To lose someone with a heart like yours,” a friend wrote. “Just doesn’t make sense.”
— Jessica Contrera
Jack Beaton, 54
from Bakersfield, Calif.
Once the couple realized the firecracker sounds were bullets, Jack Beaton told his wife to “get down” and laid on top of her. He said, “I love you, Laurie.” She said, “I love you, Jack.” And then “he took a bullet” to save his wife’s life.
She knew he died in her arms and she told him she would see him in heaven, his mother-in-law, Lauraine Cook, 70, recounted from conversations with Laurie Beaton.
The couple was celebrating their 23rd wedding anniversary at the concert with friends. Once the bullets stopped, friends told Laurie, 49, that she needed to leave her husband and run.
While escaping the grounds, Laurie “called us hysterical saying that she knows that she lost him,” Cook said. “She told me every moment of it, every second. She said it was — it happened so fast, but in slow motion.”
The family is still in shock, Cook said, describing Jack Beaton as “just larger than life. Everybody loved him. He’s that kind of a guy.”
Beaton “adored” his family, Cook said, and went to Mammoth Mountain in California’s Sierra Nevada every year for a family trip. He loved camping, fishing and doing anything with his two children, Jake, 20, and Delaney, 18.
He worked for Diamond Ridge Roofing, and Cook said he was “gregarious” and “outgoing,” even picking up a stray dog once from a worksite and bringing her home.
“They were just the happiest couple,” Cook said. “He had always told her … ‘I would die for you.’ That’s how much he loved her. And she said he did. They were soul mates.”
His son, Jake, posted photos of his father on Facebook with the following message: “Lost my best friend. I love you so much more then you could ever imagine. Please watch over our family. You will forever be remembered as our hero! #atruehero”
— Ellie Silverman
Steve Berger, 44
Steve Berger was a 6-foot-6 former college basketball player on a trip for his 44th birthday. His father wonders whether his height made him a clearer target.
"Saturday was his birthday. He was out there with his friends, shot down like a dog," Richard Berger said from his home in the suburbs of Milwaukee.
A Wauwatosa, Wis,. native, Steve Berger lived outside Minneapolis with his three children, ages 8, 11 and 15. His parents now must figure out how to care for them.
When Berger was shot, his friends were forced out with the crowd, not knowing what had happened to him.
It took two days of calling hospitals, police and friends in Las Vegas for his parents to learn that their son was dead. One of the friends who survived finally showed his photo Tuesday to a coroner, who confirmed his death.
Berger was a financial adviser with EFS Advisors in Minnesota. "Steve was a very well-respected, very looked-up-to individual in our company," said Dorothy Fuller, director of operations.
"He always on top. He was a go-getter," Richard Berger said. "He did everything right, never slipshod anything. A wonderful father, a wonderful son."
— Rachel Weiner
Candice Bowers, 40
from Garden Grove, Calif.
Their other friends had gone home, but Candice Bowers and Lisa Gentry stayed the third night of the festival just to hear Jason Aldean play. He was their favorite musician, and they squirmed their way toward the front of the crowd to see the concert up close.
Not long into the set, they turned around to head to the bathroom and then heard what they thought was the sound system breaking up, Gentry said. Soon, people started running and screaming, “Get down!”
The two hurdled over tables and ice chests and then took shelter from the gunfire under a table. A stranger lay on top of Gentry, 46, because there was no more room on the ground. Gentry said she asked, “Candice, is this happening right now?” Bowers replied, “Yes, Lisa, this is happening right now.”
Gentry told her, “We’re going to die. I love you,” seconds before bullets started spraying in their direction and hitting the tarps. During that burst of shots, Gentry and Bowers looked at each other and knew they had to get out of there. Gentry ran, all the while thinking Bowers was with her. She didn’t realize her best friend wasn’t there until she made it to the end of the field and had a chance to look behind her.
She called hospitals and checked their shared hotel room but couldn’t find Bowers. It wasn’t until Monday night that she learned her friend had died in the mass shooting, she said.
“I remember she was looking at me with this blank, scared look on her face, and that’s when I realized, looking back later, I know that’s when she was hit. ... She didn’t run because she couldn’t,” Gentry said. When she opened the door to their hotel room, “I was hoping she would be there, maybe she was sleeping, or something. I don’t even know. It was horrible.”
Bowers was the mother of three children, ages 2, 16 and 20, and she and Gentry had been best friends for about six years. Bowers’s daughter is close friends with Gentry’s two daughters and even calls Gentry’s husband “Dad.” She had a contagious laugh, Gentry said, and always put others before herself.
“She was just such a strong person. She was my strength through everything,” Gentry said. “She was always helping everyone else, from her family, her friends, she always put everyone else first.”
Bowers had a tough life growing up, but “rose above” difficult circumstances, said her grandmother Patricia Zacker. She was a single mom and recently formalized the adoption of her 2-year-old daughter, which her friend Patty Tran described as “one of the best days” of her friend’s life.
“She was my granddaughter and had the roughest life and decided to make good on it,” Zacker said. “I was proud of what she did on her own.”
Tran, 53, runs a day care and watched Bowers’s children grow up. They saw each other every day, and Tran said Bowers was always smiling, loved country music, line dancing and enjoyed playing Bunco.
“She was a really wonderful person with a huge, huge heart, and if you needed help, she would give it to you,” Tran said. “She always spoke from her heart. If you wanted the truth, and you wanted to know, you got it from Candice.”
— Ellie Silverman
Denise Burditus, 50
from Martinsburg, W.Va.
While in the pool Sunday with her husband, Tony, Denise Burditus talked about heading back to the Route 91 Harvest festival in 2018. They’d had a great time the past two years and thought they might as well make it an annual trip.
After a day lounging at the pool, the married couple of 32 years went back to their hotel room, freshened up and headed to the event’s third night. Once there, they snapped a selfie, both smiling, with the stage and Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in the background.
During the concert, they heard popping sounds and Burditus asked her husband if it was gunfire. At first he said no, but seconds later he realized it was. The couple turned to escape. While they held hands, a bullet struck Burditus and she fell unconscious.
Tony Burditus knew it was a fatal blow, but he stayed with his wife through the remaining gunfire. At one point someone helped him move her behind garbage cans, a nurse came by to assist them and someone picked them up in a truck and drove them to a hospital.
“I never left her side,” he said. “Through her being wounded, I just couldn't imagine not being with her at that time.”
It all happened within seconds, he said, but he emphasized that he wants to remember how his high school sweetheart lived her life, not how she died.
She deeply loved her children and grandchildren — something Tony Burditus said he won’t let them forget. They have two adult children and four grandchildren, and she recently went with her daughter to an ultrasound for the fifth grandchild on the way, he said. Denise Burditus was “the backbone or glue that held the family together,” while he served in the military for about 26 years.
Tony Burditus retired in 2015 and they had taken advantage of the time they had, including heading out on long family road trips or a spontaneous trip for just the two of them. Even when they weren’t together, they were always talking.
She’d often send him smiling selfies when she was heading out, and Tony Burditus said he has hundreds of those pictures saved. Part of the couple’s routine was going to the gym, though they went to different classes. So as she finished her class and he was heading into his, they high-fived.
“There wasn’t many times where she didn't have a smile on her face,” he said. “She never met a stranger. If she was some place, she was probably talking to you and making conversation.”
She was also dedicated to her studies and was taking classes at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College after spending decades in the banking industry, he said. Tony Burditus described her as “spunky,” always playfully teasing friends, and said she never missed an opportunity to take a picture kissing him on the cheek.
“She just liked to have a good time, be there with a smile on her face” he said. “Thirty-two years and every day got better. ...You love one another enough to get married, but you don't know what love is until 32 years later and every day is better than the last. We both agreed on that.”
He keeps thinking of things he wants to tell her and then realizing he won’t have the chance. At the end of each day, he goes back to the Las Vegas hotel room the two booked for the trip and waits. He packed up her belongings but is not sure when her body can go back to West Virginia. He’s still there, he said, because he doesn’t want to leave her.
— Ellie Silverman
Sandy Casey, 35
from Redondo Beach, Calif.
In early April, on the last day of their 10-day vacation in New Zealand, Christopher Willemse and his girlfriend, Sandy Casey, walked down a steep hill to a lake. As she played by the water’s edge, Willemse took a ring out of his pocket. When she turned around, he was down on one knee.
At the end of this month, they planned to tour the final wedding venue on their list. Instead, after seven years as colleagues at Manhattan Beach Middle School, three years as a couple and five months engaged, Willemse held Casey on Sunday night as she died of a gunshot to her lower back at the country music festival in Las Vegas.
Willemse, 32, worked as a behavioral therapist in Casey’s special-education classes. They bonded over their love of country music.
They were attending the festival with a few of Willemse’s friends, huddled in front of the stage, when the gunshots rang out. They all dropped to the ground, but Casey said she’d been hit and couldn’t feel her legs. Willemse stuck his finger in the hole to stop the bleeding and then carried her out, dodging the continuous gunfire.
When she stopped responding, he told her that he loved her and that she was amazing.
“She was just a kind soul and she was full of life and loved to live it,” Willemse said. “She made everybody smile, she was an excellent teacher and loved the kids she taught. Everyone who meets her never forgets her.”
Casey, who also loved yoga and the outdoors, was originally from Vermont, where her family still lives. Willemse said he’s arranging to get her body back to her parents. She wanted to be cremated, he said, so he’ll be able to keep a part of her with him.
On Facebook early Monday, Willemse wrote: “As I sit and mourn such a beautiful life gone too fast, all i can say is look up and watch the birds fly high and free today as that's where I feel you smiling down upon all of us. I love you baby girl! Love you to pieces!”
— Colby Itkowitz
Andrea Castilla, 28
from Huntington Beach, Calif.
When Adam Castilla received the call late Sunday, everything inside him dropped. His younger sister’s boyfriend was calling from the back of a truck, where he was holding her in his arms. Ten minutes ago she’d been laughing and dancing in an Instagram video. Now she lay lifeless, shot in the head.
It was supposed to be the happiest time of Andrea Castilla’s life. Her boyfriend was planning to propose. Her younger sister had gotten engaged in May and she would be her maid of honor.
On the weekend of the Route 91 Harvest festival, she was celebrating her 28th birthday in Las Vegas, where her sister Athena lives. She posted photos from the country music festival — the girls in cutoff shorts and cowboy boots, their arms around their boys.
“My sister was really happy. She was living her life and had so many dreams and aspirations,” Adam Castilla said. “She didn’t have one bad bone in her body. Every time I saw her she managed to make everything good.”
Andrea Castilla was a makeup artist at Sephora in Huntington Beach and loved making people feel good about themselves. “Living life to the fullest,” her Instagram caption read.
Her mother died of cancer when they were teenagers. When her mom was sick, Andrea Castilla would do her makeup to help lift her spirits. Adam Castilla said she was a lot like their mom in looks, personality and eagerness to help others.
In the last conversation Adam Castilla had with his sister, she told him she wanted to start a service doing cancer patients’ makeup. “She already had a few she was working with,” he said. “She was helping them feel beautiful.”
Andrea Castilla was holding hands with her sister when she was shot in the head, according to a GoFundMe page created by her aunt, Marina Parker. Her boyfriend carried her to safety amid the rapid gunfire, over a fence and into the back of the truck of a stranger, who drove them to a hospital. At first, the hospital staff told them she was in surgery, but they’d confused her with another patient. Andrea Castilla had died when she arrived.
As Adam Castilla and his family wait in Las Vegas to bring her home, they’ve been sharing tributes on their Facebook pages. Her other brother, Aaron, wrote, “I’m happy you’re in heaven with mom and someday I’ll be up there with you guys!”
Her father shared a photo of him with his arm around his daughter. The caption read: “As the sun shines through my window and I hear the birds sing I wait quietly for you, for that small voice that says, Dad I’m with you. I never left you.”
— Colby Itkowitz
Denise Cohen, 58
from Carpinteria, Calif.
Denise Cohen was a grandmother who loved to dance to country music. She and her companion had long planned to go to the Route 91 Harvest festival, and Sunday night in Las Vegas she dressed in an American flag tank top and cowboy boots.
“My heart tells me she was dancing until the very last moment,” said her closest friend, Leana Orsua. Cohen and her companion, Derrick “Bo” Taylor, were both fatally shot. Cohen has two grandchildren; Taylor has five. A photo from the festival shows them posing in front of a giant Budweiser sign, dressed in shorts and casual shirts — she wearing a baseball cap, he an American flag do-rag on his head.
“Her smile could light up a room,” Orsua said of Cohen, whom she first met 10 years ago when she moved to Carpinteria, a small oceanside city near Santa Barbara, Calif. “When I tried to tell her something negative, she didn’t want to hear it.”
Cohen moved to Carpinteria from San Diego to work as a receptionist and in human resources for a small tech company. Her new employers took her to a bar to meet the regular happy hour crowd at the Canary Hotel — a group that included Orsua. Even though Orsua is 14 years younger than Cohen, the two quickly bonded over wine. Cohen rented a room from Orsua’s aunt, and later the two shared an apartment.
A few years ago, Cohen met Taylor, a corrections officer, on an Internet dating site, and they dated and then became friends. Cohen gave Taylor the tickets to the music festival for his 56th birthday.
They flew the short 350-mile trip and got a room at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, two miles north on the Strip from the concert venue and the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, the hotel from which the shots were fired.
Cohen’s uncle, who lives in Las Vegas, had planned to meet the two at the bar at the Flamingo Las Vegas hotel on the Strip and was headed there when he was stopped by police and turned around. He went to a victims post at the convention center for information, while his wife went to the sheriff’s office. “I called all the hospitals,” Cohen said. “They didn’t have any Denise Cohen or Bo Taylor. I think they died at the scene. .. We learned Monday night that she and Bo had passed.” Cohen loved country music and was active at the South Coast Church in Goleta, Calif., just outside Santa Barbara, where Orsua said she was on the hospitality committee, helped with bridal and baby showers, and even birthday parties — “basically anything they needed for the parish.” She had always been involved in her church, her friend said, but just recently “she devoted her life to God.” Instead of pictures of herself, Cohen posted inspirational messages on her social media pages. When they were roommates, Orsua said, every morning they rose, made coffee and turned on “Good Morning America.” Every once in a while, the news would turn to another mass shooting.
“The two of us would just sit there and say: ‘My God, why isn’t something being done to help protect people from this? Why is it so easy for people to get guns?’ We talked about this stuff for hours.”
Orsua paused, her voice breaking, and then said, “Knowing how this is how her life was taken, I can’t even put it into words.”
— Peter Hermann
Austin Davis, 29
from Riverside, Calif.
“Austin, my love, I can't believe this happened. You didn't deserve this,” wrote Davis’s girlfriend, Aubree Hennigan, when the news arrived late Monday.
Earlier that day, she had pleaded on Facebook for anyone with information about Davis’s whereabouts to get in touch. “We have been told he may be injured. The family is begging for your help in locating him,” she wrote.
“Oh Austin. your picture shouldn't be there. U shouldn't of been taken. Tom Day shouldn't of be taken. No ones picture should be there!!” Katelyn Hood, a close friend of Davis’s, wrote Tuesday on her Facebook page with a slideshow of the victims. “No one should of had anything but the time of their life at that concert,” she wrote.
Hood’s grandmother, reached by phone Tuesday, said that Davis, who worked as a pipefitter, was the godfather to Hood’s son and that he had attended the concert with Tom Day, another victim.
Davis’s grieving mother, Lori Quick, wrote on Facebook on Wednesday that the last text she and her husband received from their son said, “I kinda want to come home, I love home.” “He is coming home not in a way that any parent would want him to,” Quick added. “We wanted to bring him home in our arms.”
— Abigail Hausloher
Thomas Day Jr., 42
from Riverside, Calif.
Thomas Day Jr. was a semi-retired contractor who loved classic cars and country music. He was also the father of four.
Day Jr.'s father told the Los Angeles Times that his son was at the concert with his four children.
“He was the best dad. That’s why the kids were with him,” he said.
Rex Gallardo grew up with Day in the Riverside area, where he said his friend played football and baseball.
"He's always been a striving kid — anything he wanted, he went after," Gallardo said. "He always had a smile, was always the happiest guy — nothing really bothered him."
Day owned and operated Portrait Construction, which did commercial and residential work and renovations in California starting in 1990. In 2012, the company won awards for its work on a 211-unit co-op in San Francisco.
— Rachel Weiner and Janell Ross
Christiana Duarte, 22
from Torrance, Calif.
Christiana Duarte was a beautiful singer, friends said. She graduated from the University of Arizona in May and was launching a career in marketing, working as a fan-services associate for the Los Angeles Kings hockey team.
"She was just excited about life," said Danette Meyers, a friend of Duarte's father. "What she would have contributed to society would have been amazing."
Duarte was at the concert with her close friend Ariel Romero, who is dating Duarte's older brother, Michael, Meyers said. When Duarte was shot, Romero tried to shield her with her body and was shot in the face. A soldier picked up Romero and ran her to a medic, Meyers said, and she underwent surgery Tuesday. But Duarte did not survive. Her purse and cellphone were lost in the mayhem. "[Her father] Michael went to every single hospital looking for her and couldn't find her," Meyers said.
The elder Michael Duarte is a veteran district attorney in Los Angeles who went to all of his daughter's soccer games and his son's baseball games, Meyers said. The younger Michael Duarte is prospect for the Chicago White Sox. "His kids are his life," Meyers said. "The family is just heartbroken."
— Rachel Weiner
from Novato, Calif.
Stacee Etcheber was a hairdresser and mother of two who was separated from her husband during the chaos of the shooting. On Monday, her family and friends circulated a Facebook post pleading for information on her whereabouts and her brother-in-law, Al Etcheber, drove to Las Vegas from Northern California to help his brother search for her.
“It's with a heavy heart and deep sorrow, Stacee Etcheber has passed away,” Al Etcheber wrote in a public Facebook post. “Please pray for our family during this difficult time. She leaves behind two adoring beautiful children and an amazing husband. Thank you to everyone for all the support in this past few days.”
Stacee Etcheber went to the concert with her husband, San Francisco police officer Vinnie Etcheber, and two other friends, KTVU Fox 2 reported. When the shooting erupted, Vinnie Etcheber told his wife to run to safety as he began to help victims, the San Francisco Bay area channel reported. But after the chaos, he was unable to find her.
She did not have her cellphone with her and had given her ID to her husband when the concert began, NBC reported.
— Abigail Hauslohner
Brian Fraser, 39
The trip was originally planned as a girls’ weekend — but Brian Fraser decided to attend the festival in Las Vegas to celebrate a friend’s birthday. He went with his wife, Stephanie; son Nick Arellano; and Arellano’s wife, according to friend Todd Duncan.
Fraser, who worked in real estate and with Duncan as a business coach, called Duncan on Sunday morning to say he would be flying out to meet him at their conference in San Diego on Monday, he said. But Duncan’s text message at 7:37 a.m. Monday to Fraser would go unanswered.
"He was a force of goodness," Duncan said of Fraser. Duncan dedicated the conference to Fraser's memory and started collecting funds to support the Fraser family. Similar support came from Fraser's sisters-in-law and members of his Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at California State Polytechnic University at Pomona. Fraser is remembered as a family man whose wife and four children meant the world to him. Arellano, 25, asked Fraser to legally adopt him after he married his mother. “He served as my rock and my mentor,” Arellano told the Orange County Register. “He became my dad and my father figure. He helped anyone who asked. That’s why people loved and adored him.”
— Drew Gerber
Keri Galvan, 31
from Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Keri Galvan was at the concert with her husband when she was killed. She leaves behind three children — 2, 4 and 10 years old — her sister wrote on a GoFundMe page.
Justin Galvan, a former Marine who served in Iraq, stayed with his fallen wife to perform CPR as the bullets were flying, his father, Isaac Galvan, said. The couple met in or shortly after high school; they were married in Jamaica.
"She was a great mother, she really loved her kids," Isaac Galvan said. "She was just a very devoted mother to the three kids."
Galvan worked at Mastro's Steakhouse in Thousand Oaks, friends confirmed. Her father, Jeff Poole, was the drummer in the band Legs Diamond. “It is so tragic. I am numb,” guitarist Roger Romeo wrote on Facebook.
— Rachel Weiner
Dana Gardner, 52
from Grand Terrace, Calif.
This weekend, Dana Gardner should be attending the baby shower for her future grandchild. Due later this month. Her son’s first. Perhaps there, she and her college-age daughter, Kayla, would still be abuzz from their trip together to Las Vegas for the Route 91 Harvest festival the week before.
Instead, Kayla stood beside her mother at the country music concert when a bullet struck Gardner’s chest and arm. Kayla and another man carried Gardner out of the carnage. The mother of three died in the hospital.
Instead of celebrating a new life coming to their family, Gardner’s children now mourn their loss. Kayla shared a photo of her and her mom on Facebook and wrote: “We are devastated and still in shock trying to comprehend what happened last night. My family and I appreciate the outpouring of love and support and ask for prayers at this time.” Then she tagged her mom and wrote, “I love you.”
Gardner worked for the San Bernardino County assessor-recorder-clerk’s office. Her boss, Bob Dutton, in a message on Facebook said she was “known for her can-do attitude and vibrant energy.”
Charles Moran, Gardner’s uncle, echoed that sentiment. “She was a very up person and friendly, I don’t think she judged anybody,” Moran said. “Being in her company was always a joy. She was a beautiful spirit and did not deserve it.”
He noted that in just the past few years Gardner had connected with a long-lost half sister and they had become close. “They were getting to know each other and making up for lost time,” Moran said. That sister and another half sister changed their profile pictures on Facebook to ones of the three of them together.
Gardner’s brother-in-law, Adam Foster, wrote a message to her on his Facebook page. “I look at Kayla Gardner and see nothing but you she was so strong today,” Foster wrote. “I know you are smiling and knowing u did a damn good job raising her Ryan and Anthony.”
— Colby Itkowitz
Angie Gomez, 20
Angie Gomez had three siblings but one “twin”: her best friend, Veronika Maldonado. The two met in eighth grade, hanging out at the same lunch table. Once they got into high school, they both joined the Riverside Poly Cheer and Song team at Riverside Polytechnic High School in Riverside, Calif. Once the two — both dark-haired and standing 5-foot-2 — were in their cheer uniforms, everyone assumed they were twins. So they made a joke of it and started calling themselves the Malomez twins.
“Our parents have gotten us mixed up from the back. If you know Angie, you know me; if you know me, you know Angie,” Maldonado said.
Gomez was attending Riverside Community College and trying to get into a nursing program. She had just gotten an assistant nursing job at Riverside Community Hospital, Maldonado said. Gomez's career choice mirrored her personality: always caring and looking out for others.
“I know she would have been a perfect nurse. That’s her, everything about her caregiving spirit and just the way she was around people and her energy was so contagious. She was like the mom friend,” she said.
Maldonado said Gomez probably watched every episode of “Friends” at least five times and was a Disney fanatic. She had an annual pass to Disneyland for as long as Maldonado could remember, and her favorite movie was “The Lion King.” Her favorite ride at Disneyland was the Indiana Jones ride.
Gomez was also a huge country music fan, and she and her boyfriend, Ethan Sanchez, went to Las Vegas for the festival last weekend. Maldonado said the two were madly in love.
“Their relationship was what everyone hopes to have. And that’s what’s heartbreaking, too. Her boyfriend was over the moon for her, just completely the greatest love story ever, and you know they gave me so much hope. We all joke about how they’d be the first ones to get married, talking about being each other’s bridesmaids in the future,” she said.
Sanchez survived and is “taking it hard,” she said.
Maldonado said she didn’t know they were in Vegas until Gomez sent them snaps on a Snapchat group. Maldonado’s mother happened to be in Vegas at the time and called every hospital looking for Gomez. The girls were like family, and nothing was more important than family to Gomez. She lived with her parents, and Maldonado said she probably wouldn’t have moved out even if she had the chance. She was the youngest of four and had two small nieces she adored. Her parents are “keeping high spirits just to make it through.” A GoFundMe was set up to raise money for Gomez’s funeral expenses. The goal was $10,000, but they raised $50,000. Her mother wants it to go to a foundation in her name.
Gomez’s mother, when reached Monday afternoon, was on her way back to Riverside from Las Vegas. She was too distraught to talk and said she and her family needed time to grieve.
Gomez was shot three times, family friend Tyler Smith said, once in the shoulder and twice in the arm. Sanchez tried to carry her out of the concert venue with the help of several strangers. But Smith said that the crowds and blocked-off streets made it impossible to get Gomez to a hospital in time.
“She had a lot going for her, young and in love, with a good family,” Smith said. “It's just incredibly surreal.”
— Colby Itkowitz and Rachel Weiner
Charleston Hartfield was a Las Vegas police officer, a member of the armed services, a father and a youth football coach, friends and family said. Those who knew him said each of those roles touched on the type of person Hartfield was.
"He was one of those guys who gives, gives, gives," said Stanley King, a friend.
Troy Rhett, who coached the Henderson Cowboys youth football team with Hartfield, sounded a similar note.
"He wasn't someone who was just here," Rhett said. "He made sure the time he spent here was valuable."
Rhett said Hartfield got into coaching football because his son was a standout athlete and is now a high school football player. Hartfield leaves behind that son, a daughter who is in elementary school and a wife, Veronica, Rhett said.
Family members said Hartfield had just finished a book about his life as a police officer called "Memoirs of a Public Servant." He changed the banner photo on his Facebook page to an image of the Route 91 Harvest festival on Sunday, just hours before the mass shooting.
— Justin Jouvenal
Christopher Hazencomb, 44
from Camarillo, Calif.
Just before 10:30 a.m. Monday, Nikki Torres, 36, added a photo to Facebook. The picture showed a broad-shouldered man towering above Torres’s two young sons, their small hands clasped with his at either side. The caption read, "Love you."
Two days before he died, Christopher Hazencomb spent the day doing what he did best: making people happy. While in Las Vegas for the Route 91 Harvest festival, Hazencomb was staying with Nikki and Thomas Torres, whom he met more than decade ago when they worked together at a California toy store. On Saturday, he accompanied them and their two sons to a Las Vegas-area Target store. Jakob, 4, and Alphonse, 6, held tightly to “Uncle Chris” as they weaved through the store's aisles, Thomas said.
On Sunday, country music fans Hazencomb and Nikki Torres headed for the concert, while Thomas Torres stayed home with his sons, ready to pick up his wife and friend from the concert when it was over. Hazencomb was “really pumped up” to see the last act of the night, Jason Aldean, Thomas Torres said.
Shortly into Aldean’s set, Hazencomb was struck in his head by a bullet. Nikki Torres made it out safely after being forced by strangers to leave her friend’s side, Thomas Torres said. Hazencomb died of his injuries Monday morning.
"He didn't deserve this, this fate," Thomas Torres said. “He was kind and caring. He never held a grudge.”
Hazencomb, who lived with his elderly mother, worked at a Walmart store. He often oversaw the self-checkout area, returned carts from the parking lot and did "anything you asked him to do," Thomas Torres said.
In addition to his love of country music, friends recalled Hazencomb as a "sports junkie" and avid fan of the Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Angels.
Thomas Torres said he hasn’t been able to tell his sons the truth about what happened to Hazencomb. “I can’t even say his name around them,” he said.
For now, Thomas Torres said, his sons think their Uncle Chris has gone home early.
"You don't have to be blood to be family. The fact that he loved my boys was such a big thing."
— Mandy McLaren
Jennifer Irvine, 42
from San Diego
Ryan Mullinax, a bail bondsman in San Diego, said he often spoke to Jennifer Irvine on the phone about clients who needed bail but that he met her in person only once — it was just a month ago, before a Metallica concert for which she had been unable to get tickets.
"She was real funny, good head on her shoulders, real smart," Mullinax said.
On her law firm’s website, Irvine wrote that she recently started her own firm to be closer to her clients. Outside of work, she said, she had a black belt in taekwondo, practiced hot yoga and was an avid snowboarder.
Kyle Kraska, the sports director for CBS News 8 in San Diego, had been friends with Irvine for 15 years. "She was a ball of energy, she was fun, she was just full of life," he said. Irvine was always organizing people to take weekend trips to other cities, to go boating or go to a festival, he said. She was always surrounded by big groups of friends. She went with several girlfriends to the festival in Las Vegas, Kraska said.
"They were holding hands, they were dancing, they were singing," he said. He was told that when the shots rang out the group all fell to the ground. When the other women looked around, they realized Irvine was not moving. She had been shot in the head. Kraska, who was nearly killed in a shooting two years ago, said he took some small comfort in knowing his friend probably died instantly, without fear or pain. "I hope that's the case," he said. "Her life ended singing and dancing and smiling."
— Rachel Weiner
Nicol Kimura, 38
from Placentia, Calif.
Nicol Kimura’s group of friends had grown up together in Orange County and were still so tight-knit that their respective children considered their parents’ friends to be aunts and uncles.
The group went to dinners together, celebrated holidays together and attended concerts as a group, especially country music shows. At some point a few years back, they decided to start referring to one another as “framily.”
“It just so happens that Nicol was just the catalyst for that,” said Ryan Miller, one of Kimura’s close friends. “She was happy 99 percent of the time. You just couldn’t help but laugh when she laughed, and you couldn’t help but smile with her. She was the life of the party.”
Kimura and the “framily” were together at the Route 91 Harvest festival when she was shot. In the minutes before, seven members of the group were dancing and goofing around as they always did — as they’d done at several concerts already this year. Then came the sudden barrage of gunfire, the confusion, the panic and the fear. And before anyone could fully grasp what was happening, the framily was permanently stripped of one of its members.
Kimura leaves behind two parents and a sister who all live in Southern California, Miller said. She worked for the county’s tax collection department, provided the most “awesome hugs” to the people she loved and doted on a dog named Sadie. Her Facebook page is dotted with pictures of Sadie dressed as Santa Claus, Sadie’s nose up close, Sadie and Kimura on a hike. Kimura loved the puppy and took her everywhere, Miller said.
“The dog was a crazy, energetic personality much like Nicol, so they fit together very well,” he said. To Miller’s kids, “she was the fun, crazy aunt everyone wants.”
“She’s like your all-around person — super crafty, your Martha Stewart,” said Courtney Calderon, Kimura’s friend since the fourth grade. Kimura was always organizing social events; she even made everyone T-shirts for the concert that featured their favorite alcoholic beverage. (Kimura’s said dirty martini.) Another time, Kimura arranged a whole tea party, complete with tiny sandwiches, for Calderon’s and another friend’s young daughters.
Kimura was divorced and didn’t have children. But these past five years, the framily was everything to her, Calderon said. Kimura would go to wine tastings and concerts; she would decorate for Thanksgiving. “I’ve never seen her so happy, and she was just enjoying life,” Calderon said.
The framily’s Facebook pages Wednesday reflected a stream of grief and condolences. “I’m having a really tough time tonight!” someone wrote. She was “such an amazing, fun and loyal friend,” wrote another. “So sorry,” others said, seemingly hundreds of times.
When the shooting started Sunday night, the group of friends — like many other concert attendees — at first assumed it was fireworks. Then they saw country star Jason Aldean run off the stage. They heard people shouting for everyone to get down on the ground. They dropped, all seven of them, to the dirt where they had just been dancing. And when the shooting let up for a minute, someone called out that Kimura was bleeding.
Kimura had been shot in the side of her back, but as they tried to move her — somewhere, anywhere, away from the gunfire — the bullets started raining down again. Another friend, Chad Elliott, threw himself on top of Kimura to shield her from further injury. In the chaos and the panic, they tried to move Kimura again. Elliott talked to her, stayed beside her and told her he loved her, even as the gunfire continued, Miller said.
“Slowly she started to fade away,” Miller said. And by the time two EMTs reached her, “they knew it was just too late.”
— Abigail Hauslohner
from Valleyview, Alberta
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, who leads the government in that Canadian province, confirmed Monday the death of one Alberta resident in the Las Vegas mass shooting. Local news outlets identified that person as Jessica Klymchuk, a single mother of four who lived in Valleyview, a town of about 2,000.
Klymchuk was in Las Vegas with her fiance, Brett Irla. The two were engaged in April, according to announcements in their Facebook timelines. On Monday, Irla posted an image of him and Klymchuk nuzzling, covered in pink hearts. Messages of condolence for Irla and Klymchuk's children quickly followed.
Irla's timeline also includes multiple messages in which Irla described Klymchuk as "the most amazing woman" and someone he was lucky to have in his life.
— Janell Ross
Carly Kreibaum, 33
from Sutherland, Iowa
The last public photo Carly Kreibaum posted on Facebook was of herself with two friends at the Venetian Las Vegas on Sunday. The three were outside and smiling. A bullet would later strike Kreibaum, who was the mother of two children, and she would be separated from her friends, according to the Sioux City Journal. By Monday morning, people began commenting on the group photo Kreibaum posted the day before, offering prayers and asking whether she was safe. On Monday night, Sutherland Church of Christ invited people to come together to pray for Kreibaum. Tuesday morning, Chris Kreibaum posted that the family still could not locate her.
“We are currently on a plane waiting for takeoff but it has been delayed a couple times due to heavy rains in Sioux Falls,” he wrote. “We still do not know anything about where Carly is.”
So people began crowdsourcing where she might be, naming hospitals and help lines. A screenshot of one post includes the comment, “Try spring valley, i may have transported her, but im not certain.”
Family member Sarah Rohwer confirmed Carly Kreibaum’s death in a message to The Washington Post on Wednesday and asked for privacy as the family takes time to grieve.
“At this time my family and I would just like some privacy as we take the necessary time to grieve,” she wrote. “I'm just not ready to share anything yet. Thank you.”
Kreibaum was from Sibley, Iowa, but lived in Sutherland, according to her Facebook page. The page also lists that she studied at Wayne State College and went to Sibley-Ocheyedan High School.
— Ellie Silverman
Rhonda LeRocque, 42
from Tewksbury, Mass.
Rhonda LeRocque and her husband, Jason, had attended Las Vegas’s Route 91 Harvest festival before. This year, LeRocque’s aunt said, they made a last-minute decision to go back. They brought along their 6-year-old daughter, Aliyah, and Jason’s father and booked a room at the Mandalay Bay.
Now, the family is mourning a woman who “was everything to everyone,” Gloria Murdock, LeRocque’s aunt, said Monday evening. At a design firm in Boston, her job was to host important guests. At her home in Tewksbury, Mass., she hosted family gatherings with big helpings of buffalo chicken and macaroni and cheese around her pool.
“She would make a cake and say, ‘Oh, it only took me 10 minutes,’ ” Murdock said.
LeRocque was a Jehovah’s Witness and met her husband on a mission trip, her cousin Craig Marquis said. Trips became a regular part of their life together, with excursions to Hawaii scheduled every year. They hoped to move there someday.
“All day I’ve been posting pictures of her on my Facebook page,” said her mother, Priscilla Champagne. “This is just our family’s greatest loss.”
— Jessica Contrera
Jordan McIldoon, 23
from Maple Ridge, B.C.
At age 2, Jordan McIldoon was already climbing on top of the barn at home in Maple Ridge, his parents said in a statement. He jumped in the deep end of the lake before he knew how to swim. Alan and Angela McIldoon described their only child as compassionate but adventurous, a fearless mountain and BMX biker, snowboarder, and hockey player.
“When on his bike, Jordan could often be seen upside down doing a flip or roaring down a bike park with a cheeky tail whip — he was in his glory,” they write.
McIldoon was living with his girlfriend, Amber Bereza, on his parents’ property in Canada. He was a month shy of finishing his heavy-duty mechanic apprenticeship and “so proud that he was almost done,” his parents wrote.
Bereza told Canada's Global News that the couple were celebrating their birthdays in Vegas. He shielded her from the gunfire, she said, before he was shot.
“His last words to me after being shot were, ‘I love you,’ ” she told the television station. “And that is something that I will never forget.” Bereza was then pulled away from him as first responders tried to evacuate the area.
Heather Gooze, who had been bartending at the House of Blues bar on the festival grounds, was with him when he died. She called his mother for him, she told CNN, and promised not to leave McIldoon's side “until this is over.” His mother told Gooze about his tattoos and his childhood nickname, Blimpy.
Gooze also talked to Bereza, she told Canada’s Maclean’s magazine.
“ ‘He’s the love of my life. Are you sure?’ ” she said Bereza asked. “I said: ‘Yes. He’s gone.’ ”
— Rachel Weiner
Kelsey Breanne Meadows, 28
from Taft, Calif.
Kelsey Breanne Meadows, a substitute teacher at her former high school, was warmly remembered by Taft Union High’s principal. “Kelsey was smart, compassionate and kind. She had a sweet spirit and a love for children,” 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."
Since Sunday, Meadows’s family held on to hope that she’d be found alive. But her older brother shared on his Facebook page Tuesday morning that she had died.
“My family and I want to take a minute and thank everyone that has been trying to help us locate my sister,” he wrote. “So it is with an absolutely shattered heart that I let everyone know that Kelsey did not survive this tragic event. Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers as we try and move past this horrible time.”
— Colby Itkowitz
Calla Medig, 28
from Edmonton, Alberta
Calla Medig started waiting tables at Moxie’s Grill and Bar in Edmonton two years ago. She quickly became a leader and had just been promoted to manage the restaurant at the West Edmonton Mall.
She learned of her new job before she headed to Las Vegas for the Route 91 Harvest festival, the third consecutive year she had attended the country music concert.
Thursday would have been her first day as manager. “That girl would do anything for us,” said the restaurant’s general manager, Scott Collingwood. “She is leaving a very big hole for us, and in many hearts.”
Though she had just two years of experience as a waitress, Medig became an instant leader of the crew in one of the busiest of the chain’s locations, in a sprawling, 5.3 million-square-foot mall that has its own zoo, indoor water park and ice palace, Collingwood said.
Medig’s family in Jasper, Alberta, a mountain town with about 5,000 residents 270 miles west of Edmonton, have not discussed the death publicly. Collingwood, out of respect for the family, said he would talk only about what Medig was like at work. He said Medig kept her private life to herself. “She didn’t volunteer anything about her life,” the general manager said.
The only tidbit Collingwood offered was that Medig not only enjoyed wine, and was quite knowledgeable about it, but she also made her own. She also loved country music, telling Collingwood that the Route 91 Harvest festival was a priority: “I don’t care if I get married and have kids, I’m going to continue to go,” she told her boss.
Collingwood said Medig used to come into the restaurant when her family visited Edmonton, and two years ago she returned, said she had moved to the city and asked for a job. Collingwood hired her on the spot. Medig made connecting with guests “look easy,” Collingwood said, adding: “She didn’t get frustrated, she didn’t get flustered. If 10 things were coming at her at once, she’d up her hands and say, ‘Okay, let’s solve one thing at a time.’ And then she would tackle it.” Medig once came to the rescue of a new employee who couldn’t keep up waiting tables. She told her young charge: “Take a breath. Let’s do this together,” as she escorted the waitress on her rounds.
Said Collingwood: “She had time for everybody.”
— Peter Hermann
from Big Sandy, Tenn.
Saving lives is what Sonny Melton did. So it’s little surprise that when gunfire rained down on him and his wife, he grabbed her from behind and absorbed the shots in back, according to several news reports.
Melton is a registered nurse at Henry County Medical Center in Paris, Tenn. His wife, Heather Melton, is a surgeon. She survived the attack and credits her husband with saving her life.
"I want everyone to know what a kind hearted loving man he was but at this point I can barely breathe," she told USA Today.
The couple were married June 30, 2016, according to their wedding website. “ We have shared amazing times together and nearly unbearable heartaches but through it all we have grown stronger in our love for each other and our families,” they wrote. They called themselves soulmates.
Melton’s last Facebook post was a check-in at the Route 91 Harvest festival. That post now has close to 5,000 comments from loved ones and strangers offering condolences. His alma mater, Union University, posted a statement on its Facebook page. It quoted Christy Davis, assistant professor of nursing, who said: “You know how when you met someone and you just know that they’re good and kind? That was Sonny. He just had a sweet, kind spirit about him.”
At a vigil in his home town, friends and family shared memories of Melton. In a video of the event posted to Facebook, one person said she always loved running into him because a quick trip to the store turned into 30 minutes because Melton wanted to know all about how she and her family were doing. Another woman who said she worked side-by-side with Melton at the hospital said that he touched not only the lives of those who knew him, but also of the patients he cared for. “He made a difference in their lives every day that he came to work,” she said.
His uncle, Kelly Brewer, also spoke through tears.
“I just want to say that Sonny was a great asset to Big Sandy and the small town we live in,” he said. “We’ll miss him.”
— Colby Itkowtiz
Pati Mestas, 67
from Menifee, Calif.
Pati Mestas loved Jason Aldean, so when he started performing Sunday night she left her friend Dana to move to the front of the stage. Dana made it out alive, friend Isa Bahu said. Mestas, originally from Pomona, Calif., did not. She was hospitalized in critical condition and died Tuesday.
Bahu met Mestas through an ex-girlfriend, but they quickly became close and he eventually hired her to work at his Shell store in Corona, Calif. For about a decade she ran the deli, where he said she charmed customers with creative sandwich combinations and homemade sauces.
"She was older than me, but you would never know," Bahu said. "She was always down for a good time. ... She was the life of the party. When you think 67, you think they're winding down, but there was no winding down with Pati. She was a ball of fire."
Mestas adored country music, he said, and was always going to festivals.
"She loved concerts," he said. "She was always in a great mood, always wanted to keep going."
Tom Smith, one of her 17 cousins, said Mestas was a woman of faith and fun who never stopped moving. "It was exciting to be around her," he said. "You really couldn't be around her without being energized."
He last saw her at a family gathering in California in March, for the passing of the last of their parents' generation. Over Mexican food, they talked about their gratitude for their lives.
"Our time on this Earth is temporary, but it's meant to be grabbed for all it can give you," he said. "That's what she was doing in Vegas."
Friend Valerie Gorman knew Mestas through the Go Girls, a group of fans of the radio station Go Country 105. They wear matching wristbands so they can find each other at country shows. "It's like a family," Gorman said.
Many Go Girls were at the festival, Gorman said, and most made it out safe. Michelle Vo, who was killed in the shooting, was also a member.
— Rachel Weiner
Austin Meyer, 24
from Reno, Nev.
Austin Meyer was celebrating his 24th birthday and his upcoming relationship anniversary with his girlfriend on Sunday, Meyer’s sister Veronica told KSBW-TV.
“Austin was a joy to be around. He always had a smile on his face … and was always making people laugh,” she told the Salinas, Calif., station. “He was passionate about cars, loved sports, basketball in particular." His favorite team was the Boston Celtics.
Meyer moved to Reno from Marina, Calif., to start classes at Truckee Meadows Community College. His sister said he had dreams of opening his own auto repair shop.
Meyer previously worked at Main Event Transportation, a limousine service company in Monterey, Calif. A colleague there, Chris Elliott, wrote on Facebook: “I still can’t believe you're gone. I would take your place if i could. I love you so much and thank you for always being the great person you were.”
— Colby Itkowitz
Adrian Murfitt, 35
Ryan Kopiasz met Adrian Murfitt at a party in high school. Kopiasz's friends hadn't shown up, and Murfitt came over to talk to him so he wouldn't be alone.
"He was the thoughtful type that would see a random person at a get-together and not let them sit by themselves," Kopiasz said. "They don't make them like that anymore."
Murfitt was one of the first people to visit after Kopiasz's daughter was born, and he was always there to help someone who needed anything, from a ride to a supportive phone call.
"He always had an alert up, when somebody needed him — he knew," Kopiasz said.
A high school hockey player and an outdoorsman, Murfitt was tough, Kopiasz said, but also deep and open. He wasn't afraid to talk about politics or life philosophy, always from a humane perspective.
"Adrian would engage on a very intimate, personal level," Kopiasz said.
He said Murfitt wasn't a huge music fan; he went to the festival because he wanted to be with friends after several months on the fishing boat.
"The one consolation that we have is that ... he didn't meet his end alone," Kopiasz said.
Murfitt attended the concert with his friend Brian MacKinnon. MacKinnon said in a Facebook post that Murfitt died in his arms.
— Rachel Weiner
Rachael Parker, 33
Rachael Parker was a police records technician who loved her dogs and hockey and was applying to graduate schools. She worked for the Manhattan Beach (Calif.) Police Department for 10 years, according to a news release.
Parker graduated from Colorado State University in June 2016 and was applying to graduate school, according to a post on the police department’s Facebook page. “Rachael had a passion for working with older adults, and she completed her undergraduate practicum with Manhattan Beach’s Older Adults Program,” the department wrote. “Rachael had a love for dogs — especially her two adopted dogs, Maddie and Izzy. She enjoyed baking, country music, and LA Kings Hockey. Rachael’s smile could light up a room, even on the most difficult of days.”
— Colby Itkowitz
from Lancaster, Calif.
They were high school sweethearts from suburban Los Angeles who loved country music and loved Las Vegas. Jenny and Bobby. Kindergarten teacher and solar panel salesman. Two kids. House nestled under the San Gabriel Mountains.
The couple headed to Las Vegas for the concert and to visit Jenny Parks’s two brothers, who live there. Their son, Bryce, who just started high school, and daughter, Leah, in middle school, stayed in Los Angeles with their grandmother.
Jenny and Bobby were somewhere in the excited crowd when the shooting started. Jenny was shot in the head, according her husband’s uncle, Steven McCarthy, who lives in Los Angeles and has been in close touch with the family. McCarthy said two other relatives were at the concert but weren’t with the Parkses.
“When she collapsed, Bobby thought she had fainted,” said McCarthy, who is director of arts education for the Los Angeles Unified School District. “He covered her body with his to protect her. He felt the back of her head and felt the blood. She was then shot a second time in the head. The bullet went through her and hit him in the arm and finger.”
Jenny died in Bobby’s arms.
“Jenny was absolutely the girl that every mother wants their son to bring home,” McCarthy said. “She was kind, beautiful, loving, generous, the most caring mother I have ever met. She always had a smile on face. ... Everybody was happy when Jenny showed up.”
The couple had been married more than 15 years, and Jenny Parks had been preparing for a party for her husband’s upcoming 40th birthday. She had recently earned a master’s degree in education and was beloved at Anaverde Elementary School in Palmdale.
As a testament to Parks’s classroom skills, he said that one of his former students stopped him recently. She now has her own children, and one was in Parks’s class. “She told me how everybody loved her,” McCarthy said.
The Westside Union School District, which oversees the school where Parks taught, said she had just entered her third year at Anaverde.
“She was always enthusiastic, energetic, committed and dedicated to her students, her colleagues and was so proud to be a teacher,” Gino Rossall, the superintendent, said in a statement. “Her spirit was something to behold. The students who were instructed by her knew what it was to love learning as Jennifer gave them the sense of wonder, curiosity, and excitement about all they did.”
He described the couple’s marriage as a “perfect” union between two gentle, kind people. They shared a love for the Los Angeles Dodgers as much as they did for country music, naming their first apricot poodle Dodger. They were on the verge of adopting another poodle, which they planned to name Vin, after Vin Scully, the now-retired legendary broadcaster of Dodgers games.
— Peter Hermann
from Seattle, Wash.
She adored country singer Eric Church. And when Carrie Parsons saw him perform in Las Vegas on Friday night, she took a selfie with a friend from the audience with Church visible on the stage in the background and captioned it, “Night made!”
Less than five days later, another friend shared that photo on Church’s Facebook fan page. She wanted him to know that he’d lost one of his biggest fans.
“My good friend Carrie Parsons lost her life in the route 91 harvest shooting Sunday,” Carolyn Farmer wrote. “She loved your music. I think she had been to about 10 of your concerts, including when you played at tractor tavern in Seattle before you got big. Thought I should share the photo below! It was her last post. I feel peace knowing she was living life until her last moments, loving country music.”
Parsons’s death was confirmed by her brother, Jeff Parsons, on Facebook on Tuesday. He wrote that he and his family were not going to be available to talk for some time and asked for space.
Parsons, originally from Bainbridge Island, Wash., worked as a manager at Ajilon, a staffing agency in Seattle, according to her LinkedIn page.
— Colby Itkowitz
Lisa Patterson, 46
from Lomita, Calif.
Lisa Patterson, a wife and mother of three from suburban Los Angeles, had many gifts, a longtime friend said — including her ability to speak with total candor and yet be completely kind. The combination made Patterson the North Star of her family and an essential part of her church's parish school.
Her husband, her high-school-age son and her college-student daughter converged on Las Vegas after seeing news of the shooting on TV. None of the Pattersons had been able to reach Lisa. On Sunday, they learned she was dead.
“That’s why I am out here so early,” Bob Patterson, Lisa’s husband and partner of 30 years, told a reporter for Las Vegas’s KVVU-TV on Monday morning at a growing candlelight shrine near the Las Vegas Strip’s Bellagio hotel and casino. “I’m just lost without her. I don't know what to do.”
The Pattersons, who live in Lomita, were frequent Las Vegas visitors. They loved the city’s atmosphere, and Lisa was a “great gambler,” her husband said. She had come to Las Vegas with several moms from St. John Fisher Parish School in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. That’s where the Pattersons’ son, a junior in high school, attended elementary and middle school. It's where the Pattersons' 8-year-old is enrolled in second grade. And it’s where Lisa was “an absolute part of the fabric,” said Anne-Marie Hudani, Lisa’s friend and principal of the pre-K-through-eighth-grade school.
“It’s a terrible, terrible loss for us all,” Hudani said. “She has given so much of herself to this school. She was always the parent who would volunteer, who would step in. When no one else wanted to step up, there was Lisa.”
She served as the school’s PTA chair for much of the past 16 years and offered frank assessments of what needed to be done, Hudani said. But Patterson was also exuberant, full of a kind of infectious joy, Hudani said. She was the kind of woman Hudani sometimes jokingly begged to have another child: St. John needed Patterson, at minimum, for another decade.
“She was that kind of a person,” Hudani said. “She had a wonderful spirit. Lisa would just say things how they were. She wouldn’t sugarcoat anything. She was frank but also tremendously kind and compassionate. Her footprints are on all of our hearts here at the school. She was a very, very special person who will be so tremendously missed.”
Hudani emailed all of the school’s parents Sunday to inform them of Patterson’s death. On Monday, when classes at St. John Fisher began, she followed Patterson’s example. She and the school's pastor, Monsignor David Sork, walked into each of the school's nine classrooms and began a series of age-appropriate conversations, followed by prayer.
“Perhaps it is my Britishness,” said Hudani, who moved to the United States in the late 1990s. “But I felt that we the adults cannot fall apart. We have to remain composed and, like Lisa, avoid euphemisms. So we said: ‘Mrs. Patterson is dead. She was a wonderful person and has died. This is what has happened. We will miss her and pray for her and her family.' Of course there was an emphasis on the fact that she is in heaven now. We really stressed that she is with God.”
— Janell Ross
John Phippen, 57
from Valencia, Calif.
John Phippen was a “lumberjack kind of a guy” who loved music, said his best friend. Still, it came as a surprise when the general contractor belted out Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” while helping the friend renovate his bathroom.
“It was so wrong it was funny,” said the friend, Thomas Polucki, a chiropractor who lives in the same Southern California town, in the Santa Clarita Valley, as Phippen.
Phippen attended the festival with his son Travis.
Jake Diaz, 19, who with his mother is a friend of the Phippens, said family members told them that Phippen jumped on top of his son when the shooting started. “He saved his life,” Diaz said.
Polucki said Travis worked as a medic and, even after being shot in the arm, treated more than a dozen of the injured.
Polucki said Phippen actually “looks like a teddy bear and acts like a sweetheart,” with a calm demeanor no matter how tense a situation. “There’d be stuff where I’m screaming profanities and he’s like, no problem, no worries. That’s just the kind of guy he was. It took a world calamity for him to bat an eye,” Polucki said.
Phippen took buggies out on the sand dunes and ran a company called J.P Specialties that advertises as an “all-purpose remodeling company” with painting, electrical, drywall, plumbing and flooring. Polucki said that he first met Phippen about 10 years ago after he had bought a “money pit of a house.”
He said Phippen helped him out. “He was the guy you wanted to have a beer with,” the chiropractor said. “You wouldn’t want to hang out with a celebrity or a politician. You’d want to hang out with John.”
— Peter Hermann
Melissa Ramirez, 26
from Littlerock, Calif.
Melissa Ramirez had been looking forward to the country festival in Las Vegas since March and was particularly excited to see Jason Aldean. She and her friends packed into a car and made the three-hour drive from Littlerock, outside Los Angeles, where she worked as a member service specialist for AAA. They got a room at the Excalibur Hotel, just down the street from the Mandalay Bay.
“She was a person who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind,” said cousin Yesenia Mancilla, 20, who grew up with her near Bakersfield, Calif. “She was really kind and really silly, really funny. She talked to everyone and was a social butterfly. But she was honest and blunt. She would tell you how it is.”
Mancilla said Ramirez enjoyed traveling and had gone by herself to New York and Philadelphia and with friends and family to the Caribbean and Mexico, where her parents were born. She was a big fan of football and the Philadelphia Eagles, because her older brother liked the team.
Most of all, Ramirez liked to cook, and her friends and relatives were frequent beneficiaries of pies, cookies, chicken wings and ribs, just to name a few of her specialities. “She was the best cook in the family,” Mancilla said. Ramirez graduated from California State University at Bakersfield with a bachelor’s degree in business.
About 1 p.m., Ramirez called her little sister, Mancilla said. “She was telling her all about the people she had seen at the concert, how she was very excited to see Jason Aldean, how she was going to buy her a T-shirt.” Mancilla had thought that Ramirez had split up with her friends before the shooting, but then friends told her they were still together.
Ramirez was shot and died near the stage.
— Peter Hermann
Jordyn Rivera, 21
from La Verne, Calif.
Life has seemed quieter without Jordyn Rivera, longtime friend Jonah Hamilton said. She loved being with friends and family, he said. She even memorized the phone numbers of all her close friends in case she needed them and didn’t have a working phone.
“It’s quiet not getting to talk to her,” said Hamilton, who talked to her almost every day. “She was so present in a lot of our lives. It’s that quietness that really gets us.”
Rivera, a fourth-year student at California State University at San Bernardino, recently turned 21 and traveled to the Las Vegas concert with her mother because she loved country music.
After the shooting, her mother called Hamilton, 22, to tell him Rivera had been shot and died at the scene. He didn’t believe it at first. It didn’t sound real.
“We’re all trying to process it,” Hamilton said. “We all just miss her…. she is in heaven.”
The two met through church when they were younger, and Hamilton said Rivera was a Christian who loved God and the people around her.
At college, she was in the university’s health-care management program and was a member of the campus chapter of a national health education honor society, her university’s president, Tomás Morales, said in a statement. Morales personally knew Rivera through a summer abroad program in London.
“As one of her faculty members noted, we will remember and treasure her for her warmth, optimism, energy, and kindness,” Morales said.
Hamilton remembered how Rivera never deleted her text messages because she enjoyed reading back through them with a smile.
“The people that she had in her life, she really deeply loved them,” Hamilton said. “She was fiercely loyal and fiercely caring.”
— Ellie Silverman
Quinton Robbins, 20
from Henderson, Nev.
When Quinton Robbins first clutched his chest, his girlfriend thought something was wrong with his sugar levels, his grandmother said she was told. The two were on a date at a Jason Aldean concert. They hadn’t been together for very long, but she knew he had diabetes and thought he might need his insulin. She didn’t yet realize that a bullet had torn through his body.
Robbins’s grandmother Gaynor Wells said Monday that he will be remembered as “just a jewel.” She recounted the story of his death as she heard it through his girlfriend, who was uninjured.
He was the oldest of three children, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a student at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, where he was considering going to dental school. An avid athlete, Robbins spent his time refereeing various recreation leagues in his home town of Henderson, Nev.
He enjoyed hunting, fishing and country music, which is why he decided to drive to Las Vegas for the concert Sunday night. His girlfriend would later tell his family about two strangers, who described themselves as a Marine and a nurse, who tried to carry Robbins to a vehicle so he could get medical attention, even as gunfire was still raining down on the crowd. It would be hours before his family would find out for sure where he had been taken and that he hadn’t survived.
— Jessica Contrera
Cameron Robinson, 27
from St. George, Utah
In the hours before he was shot, Cameron Robinson texted his family about what a good time he’d been having at the Route 91 Harvest festival. He drank his favorite cocktail, bloody marys, at brunch; ran into an old friend; and decided, according to his texts, that he “wanted to have Sam Hunt’s babies.”
His family was amused, because they knew that back at his home in St. George, Robinson already had babies, of a sort. His boyfriend, Robert Eardley, had three children, and in the few years they’d been dating, Robinson had become a father figure to them.
When gunfire sprayed the crowd, Eardley felt shrapnel in his back, he told Robinson’s family. Robinson was shot in the neck. Eardley carried Robinson to a vehicle, in hopes of getting him to the hospital. Before they made it, Robinson died in his arms.
“This feels like some kind of cosmic joke,” said Trina Gray, who raised Robinson from the time he was 8 years old and is the mother of his sister. Gray lives in Dickinson, Tex. Last month, a home she was about to move into was flooded by Hurricane Harvey. Two weeks ago, her mother died. Now, her family is trying to find a way to explain to her grandchildren, especially Robinson’s 4-year-old nephew, that their uncle is dead.
“You know that saying, ‘God only gives you what you can handle?’ ” Gray asked. “I hate that saying.
Robinson, she said, was enjoying “the best time of his life.” He had worked hard to attend college online, and he was rewarded with a job as a legal records specialist for the city of Las Vegas. He owned a home in the city but decided to rent it out so he could live with his boyfriend, Eardley, in St. George. Even though St.George is a 100-mile drive from the city, Robinson made the commute so they could be together. His family members who hadn’t previously supported his sexuality were starting to come around, Gray said. The fact that everything in Robinson’s life seemed to be lining up made his abrupt death all the more cruel to her.
“Who goes to a concert,” she said, “to get shot and killed?
— Jessica Contrera
Rocio Guillen Rocha, 40
It was supposed to be a quick weekend getaway to Las Vegas to celebrate a birthday. Rocio Guillen Rocha and her fiance, Christopher Jaksha, traveled with their two best friends to Las Vegas from Eastvale, Calif., to celebrate one of the couple’s birthdays. It was something the four of them did every year.
It was the first getaway for Rocha since her youngest son, Austin, was born seven weeks ago. Rocha and Jaksha left Austin and his 17-month-old sister, Sophia, with Jaksha’s mother, and the couple and their two friends headed to Las Vegas.
“They were having an excellent time. My son was sending pictures and I was sending pictures of the children back to them. We were Facebooking and Facetiming the entire time,” Jaksha’s mother, Donna, said. “We were glad to watch the children so they could get away.”
When the shots started Sunday night, the four friends split up, with Rocha and Jaksha going one way and their friends another. As Rocha and Jaksha were running hand in hand, a bullet struck Rocha in her thigh. Rocha and Jaksha kept running as blood poured from her leg. Minutes later, the couple was found by a police officer, who tied a tourniquet around Rocha’s leg. But by then, Rocha had lost too much blood, Jaksha told his mother.
Donna Jaksha said her son “is not doing well” and is wrestling with guilt along with the pain of losing his best friend and the mother of his children.
“He doesn’t understand why she was shot and he wasn’t,” Donna Jacksha said. “He lost his life partner and now has two babies to raise on his own.”
Rocha worked as a kitchen manager for California Pizza Kitchen and previously worked for Disneyland. Donna Jacksha said her son and Rocha met when the two worked together at a Chili’s restaurant years ago.
Jaksha, 36, and Rocha had dated for nearly four years and were scheduled to be married next spring. Austin’s baptism was scheduled for next month. Rocha had two other children from a previous marriage, Marcus, who turned 18 on Wednesday, and Christopher, 12.
Jaksha said Rocha worked hard but focused a lot of her attention on her four children, regularly attending football and baseball games of her older sons.
“She was so wonderful. So kind. She was the absolute best mother,” Donna Jaksha said. Jaksha said her son still plans to hold the baptism for their youngest son. They are also planning Rocha’s funeral.
“It’s a very difficult time right now. But the outpouring of love and support from family, friends and our church has been so wonderful,” Donna Jaksha said.
— Keith L. Alexander and Magda-Jean Louis
Tara Roe, 34
Tara Roe had two kids and worked as an education assistant, her employer said. Expressing “sadness, shock and grief,” John Bailey, school superintendent in the Canadian town of High River, Alberta, confirmed Roe’s death in a statement Tuesday. “It has been a challenging time,” he said.
She was “a beautiful soul,” an aunt, Val Rodgers, told the Calgary Herald. “She was a wonderful mother, and our family is going to miss her dearly.” Roe, who was attending the Route 9 Harvest festival with her husband, Zach, and other relatives, became separated from them when the gunman opened fire, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. The others in her group were unharmed.
Friends posted on a GoFundMe page: “In a time of overwhelming emotions, sadness, and pain, the last thing the Roe/Smith families need to be worrying about is financial obligations associated with this tragic loss. He’s not the kind to ask for help, but Zach would give you the shirt off his back.”
— Paul Duggan
Lisa Romero-Muniz, 48
from Gallup, N.M.
Lisa Romero-Muniz loved country music and football, her friend Yvonne Andrade said — though Andrade did not know why her New Mexico-born-and-raised friend was a devotee of the Pittsburgh Steelers. But most of all, Romero-Muniz loved her huge family and especially her own kids: her daughter and two sons, her four grandchildren and several godchildren.
"She would do anything for her kids; she was always about the kids," Andrade said. "I don't even know how to describe the heart she had."
Romero-Muniz used to work with her father, a bail bondsman, but in 2003 she began working in schools, Andrade said, moving up from elementary school to middle school and then high school. Romero-Muniz was a discipline secretary at Miyamura High School, relatives confirmed.
Mike Hyatt, superintendent of the Gallup-McKinley County Schools, said in a statement that Romero-Muniz was "an incredibly loving and sincere friend, mentor, and advocate for students." The wife, mother and grandmother was "outgoing, kind and considerate," Hyatt said.
Paul Romero, 57, had not seen his cousin in a couple of years, but they grew up together.
“She was a very down-to-earth person; she was a very sweet person,” he said. “As far as I know, she never had an enemy in the world.”
Louise Leslie’s 14-year-old great-granddaughter went to the school where Romero worked. She found out in class Monday that Romer-Muniz had died.
“The last time she saw her was Friday after school and she gave her a hug,” Leslie said. “She was always telling my granddaughter to stay out of trouble and get somewhere and do the right thing — she was a good friend of hers.”
At school Monday, her great-granddaughter told her, “everyone was crying.”
— Rachel Weiner
Christopher Roybal, 28
Debby Allen and her son were supposed to go together to country singer Jason Aldean’s concert Sunday night, but Allen had overslept after a long day at the pool. When she woke up, she called her son, who told her that he was already on the Las Vegas Strip.
She called him again a few minutes later to tell him she was at the venue and was trying to find him. That was the last time they talked. And that long day at the pool was the last time she spent with her son, whose birthday they were celebrating that weekend.
Aldean was only a few songs in when bullets began to rain down on the crowd of more than 22,000 people. Allen and her friends ran after a woman next to her was shot. The gunfire seemed never-ending, she said, and she and her friends kept running until they reached an exit. As soon as Allen was on the street, she turned around. Her son, Christopher Roybal, was still inside.
“My son, my son is still there!” she screamed.
But the stampede of concertgoers trying to escape kept her from going back in. A stranger wearing an American flag shirt also stopped her, telling her she’d die if she went back in.
A few hours later, she got a call from one of her son’s friends, a firefighter named Mike. Roybal had been shot in the chest, he told her.
“Mike said to me, ‘I saw the life go out of him,’ ” Allen said.
Later, Allen said the county coroner confirmed to her that one of the bodies they had recovered was Roybal’s. “I just fell. I was crying and screaming,” she said.
Roybal, a manager at a Crunch Fitness gym in Colorado, would have turned 29 on Monday. He was Allen’s first child, her “Munchkin” who later grew to be her best friend.
He was a bearded, heavily tattooed Navy veteran who loved to watch chick flicks with his mother. He cried after watching “The Notebook.” It was one of his favorites, Allen said. He also loved “The Story of Us.”
Before Roybal moved to Denver from California last spring, he and Allen went out to dinner and watched “Beauty and the Beast.” That made him cry, too.
He also loved karaoke and Spanish ballads. Songs by Luis Miguel and Cristian Castro were his favorites.
“He’d sing these songs to his female friends, and they would just love it,” Allen said.
In fact, she said, Roybal never heard a song he didn’t like. But he loved country music the most.
Every morning on his way to work, Roybal would call his mother for no reason other than to talk.
“Mom, I love this song. Hang up the phone, go listen to it and call me back,” he would tell Allen during one of their conversations.
Allen is still in Las Vegas, waiting for authorities to release her son’s body.
The past few nights seemed just a nightmare that she wanted to wake from. More than anything else, she wants her son to call her, to tell her that he is okay, and that he’s on his way to work.
— Kristine Phillips
Brett Schwanbeck, 61
from Bullhead City, Ariz.
Brett Schwanbeck, a grandfather of five and a retired big-rig truck driver, felt most at home in the wooded outdoors, said his fiance, Anna Orozco, who was with him at the Las Vegas country music festival. “He was a fun-loving, hard-living man,” she said. “He enjoyed life, and he’d help out anyone who needed help. … He was such a big, important part of my life.”
Orozco, 50, said she had attended the annual festival several times, but not with Schwanbeck. “We’d do outdoor things together. We’d go to the woods, we’d ride ATVs, we’d go fishing, we’d stay at the lake. That’s the kind of thing he loved to do – the concert wasn’t something he’d ever done before.”
Both grew up in the small Arizona town of Ash Fork, and Orozco had known him since her childhood. They went their own ways as adults. Schwanbeck married, had two sons and eventually divorced, Orozco said. Then, not long ago, she and her longtime friend became a couple. Their wedding was scheduled for January.
Orozco said that shortly before the rifle fire began, Schwanbeck had wanted to leave the concert but that she persuaded him to stay. “I can still hear the gunshots and the sound they make when they hit people,” she said. She was unhurt in the mayhem. But she said a bullet struck Schwanbeck in the head as they were running for cover. He died Tuesday in a hospital.
— Paul Duggan
Bailey Schweitzer, 20
from Bakersfield, Calif.
Bailey Schweitzer was a receptionist at Infinity Communications and Consulting in Bakersfield. The company released a statement Monday mourning the loss of an employee who “was always the ray of sunshine.”
“If you have ever called or visited our office, she was the perky one that helped direct you to the staff member you needed,” Infinity chief executive Fred Brakeman said in the statement.
Schweitzer grew up in Bakersfield, where her father, Scott Schweitzer, owned the Bakersfield Speedway dirt track. She loved spending time there, her co-worker Katelynn Cleveland said, and loved attending country music concerts. Schweitzer had seen John Patti, Cole Swindell, Dierks Bentley and Garth Brooks. On Friday, she drove to Las Vegas for a weekend so packed with country artists there were two stages for them to perform on. The artist she was most excited to see, Cleveland said, was Luke Combs.
He performed at 7:20 Sunday evening, but Schweitzer wasn’t expected to be back at work until Tuesday. She decided to stay for the final show, a performance by Jason Aldean.
On Monday evening, her co-workers held a candlelight vigil in her honor at their offices.
— Jessica Contrera
Laura Shipp, 50
from Las Vegas
When a gunman fired bullets into the crowd, Corey Shipp, 23, wasn’t with his mother, Laura, who had gone to the bathroom. Shipp searched for her after the shooting, posting on Facebook to thank all the friends who helped make calls to hospitals and sat at the convention center with him. As of 1:36 a.m. Tuesday, she was still unaccounted for.
“May I ask you please please please keep my mother in your prayers for a little longer I would very much appreciate greatly thank you all,” Corey wrote on Facebook.
The family was “incredibly distraught,” Laura Shipp’s brother Steve said, but they held out hope that the happy Dodgers fan they all loved would be found soon.
About 12 hours later, Laura Shipp’s niece Paris let friends know that she died in the mass shooting.
“Those of you who know Laura can attest to her huge heart and contagious free spirit,” Paris Shipp wrote in a Facebook post. “We ask that you all remember her that way, just as we will. And, as always… GO DODGERS!”
Laura Shipp was a single mother and was “proud as a peacock” of her 23-year-old-son and his accomplishments, her brother Steve said. Shipp moved to Las Vegas to be closer to Corey, who is a Marine and lives there, he said.
The two looked out for each other, Steve Shipp said, and now his “one concern and one concern only” is looking out for Corey.
“He’s broken,” Steve said of Corey, adding that Laura did a “great job” raising him and was always bragging about “anything and everything he did.”
“She just lived,” Steve Shipp said. “She was a pretty happy person.”
— Ellie Silverman
Erick Silva, 22
from Las Vegas
Erick Silva’s goal in life was to help others, his uncle Rob Morgan said. He was working as a security guard at the concert, and Morgan believes he was one of the first people killed. He learned that his nephew was dead when he called Silva’s cellphone Monday morning. A woman from the coroner's office answered and told him Silva had been shot in the head.
Silva would buy hamburgers and give them to homeless people, Morgan recalled. He would treat Morgan and other relatives to dinner. He worked 18-hour shifts, and in his free time he held yard sales, all to help his mother with her bills.
"He said he would never leave his mom, she would never have to worry," Morgan said.
Silva was also fearless, his uncle said; he once saw him tackle a shoplifter while off duty.
Event manager James Garrett wrote on Facebook that Silva started working with him a couple of weeks before the festival. "I know that he loved being Security," he wrote. "I know that he was doing all that he could do to keep [people safe] before his life was taken."
— Rachel Weiner
Susan Smith, 53
Susan Smith, the office manager at Vista Fundamental Elementary School in Simi Valley, Calif., was killed at the concert, said Jake Finch, a spokeswoman for the Simi Valley Unified School District. Smith, 53, was “a big country music fan” and had been attending the concert with friends when she was shot, Finch said.
Smith had worked for the school district for 16 years, and she had served as the office manager of the elementary school for three years. She was married and was the mother of young-adult children, Finch said, although she wasn’t sure how many.
Finch said she was friendly with Smith, and that they would chat whenever Finch stopped by the school. “She had a great sense of humor. She was very funny. She was great with the children and with the staff. In a school this size, the office manager is really at the center, the hub. You have to be able to get along with everybody,” she said, and Smith did. “She was also a parent in the school district for many years, and was very active in the PTA.”
The school deployed counselors to every classroom and held a meeting with staffers on Monday, Finch said. The kids are writing letters to Smith’s family and drawing cards, she said.
— Abigail Hauslohner
Brennan Stewart, 30
from Las Vegas
Brennan Stewart had a passion for music, so it's no surprise that he would have spent his final evening at the Route 91 Harvest Music festival with his girlfriend, Gia Iantuono.
"I will remember Brennan as a light that came into my life when I needed one," Iantuono wrote in a Facebook message to The Post. "In all aspects he was just wonderful. I don't think I've ever used that word to describe somebody, but that is what he was."
Iantuono recalled that one moment Stewart was holding her and they were singing along to the music at the festival. The next she heard sounds she couldn't identify. She said she was hit in the knee by something and fell to the ground. She looked back and saw Stewart on the ground as well.
She went to him, saw blood and started screaming. Iantuono wrote that a man eventually came over to her and told her she needed to run, but her knee was dislocated. The man picked her up and moved her to a hiding place beneath a table with other concertgoers.
Eventually, the man then scooped her up again and carried her to some bleachers. Iantuono was eventually carried to a vehicle in a wheelbarrow and taken to a hospital. Iantuono only later learned what had happened to Stewart.
Iantuono wrote that Stewart worked for his father's construction company. He worked hard on his music in his spare time. He played the guitar and was recording an EP. He had just finished the last song and sent it to Nashville to be mixed. Iantuono recalled Stewart painstakingly singing the vocal track again and again until it was perfect.
Iantuono said Stewart always made her laugh. She works at a bar and recalled the time Stewart asked her out. She initially rebuffed him, but he returned.
"He came back later on saying how about I just propose to you now and we can have an Elvis wedding," Iantuono wrote. "I of course couldn't deny him then."
— Justin Jouvenal
Derrick ‘Bo’ Taylor, 56
from Oxnard, Calif.
Derrick “Bo” Taylor wasn’t sure he would make it to the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas. His companion had given him tickets for his 56th birthday, but days before the first country singers took the stage, Taylor was 550 miles from his home in Southern California.
Taylor, a state correctional officer for 29 years, was overseeing a team of inmates helping battle a wildfire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, in the northern part of the state. Lightning started what was called the Berry Fire on Sept. 12. It burned nearly 1,000 acres before it was under control Sept. 28, just in time for Taylor to make his trip.
He was killed, along with his companion, Denise Cohen, three days later.
“He was a real gentleman,” said Leana Orsua, who was friends with both Cohen and Taylor.
Taylor and Cohen had met about three years ago. She lived in Carpinteria, he 30 miles down the California coast in Oxnard. Orsua said the couple’s romantic relationship had slowed in the past year, though they remained close friends.
They flew together to Las Vegas and checked into a hotel on the Strip, about two miles from the concert venue. They posed for a picture, standing arm in arm in front of a Budweiser sign.
On Wednesday, Taylor’s son Kyle, 31, said he was in Las Vegas waiting for the coroner to release his father’s body. He thought of his own sons, 2 and 4, and his brother’s three children, recalling how his father, strict with him, had softened once he became a grandfather of five.
“With my little ones, he was different,” Kyle said. “I’d tell them don’t make a mess and he’d tell me to just leave them alone.” Taylor made a competition out of everything, organizing races to the swing or chasing the 2-year-old around the sandbox. “He just liked to play.”
At work, Taylor was a respected lieutenant who was liked by his staff and inmates, who, once free, frequently approached him when they saw him in public and thanked him for his help. “’I got a job. I’m doing good,’” Kyle said he heard all too often.
The son added, “People liked him.”
Taylor was a supervisor at the Sierra Conservation Center, a minimum- and maximum-security prison outside Oxnard that trains inmates in firefighting techniques and then helps place them in jobs when they are released.
About 110 inmates there were assigned to “camps” led by Taylor, who took them in groups to forests and wildfires around the state. They were sometimes gone for weeks or months at a time. While there, the inmates, under the direction of state firefighters, hiked into mountains and forests, clearing brush and trees to create fire lines to prevent flames from advancing. They did not fight the actual fires, but their work was grueling and dangerous.
Taylor had been in charge of such camps for 17 years.
For part of August and all of September, Taylor took his inmate team on the road, hitting several fires in the state. The last, the Berry Fire, burned nearly 1,000 acres over 16 days near California’s largest national forest.
“I just met Lieutenant Taylor at the Berry Fire,” one person wrote jn a tribute on the website for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “My husband and I were doing laundry for the crews. He would come by and we would visit. He was such a wonderful man.”
Said another: “Unbelievable. If you crossed paths with Bo Taylor you were blessed to have known him.”
Kyle described his father as an easygoing man who didn’t take his stressful job home and liked nothing more than to take his grandchildren to the park.
He said his father once told him, “It doesn’t hurt to be nice.”
— Peter Hermann
Neysa Tonks, 46
from Las Vegas
Neysa Tonks, a 46-year-old mother of three, was a big Jason Aldean fan who attended the concert with her boyfriend. She was raised in Utah and moved to Las Vegas about 10 years ago, her brother Cody Davis said.
“She was pretty much a single mother who raised three boys,” he said. “She was a great mom and a great sister and a great friend.”
Her sons and parents told CNN that Davis was a fun-loving woman who never cared what anyone else thought.
She had a favorite phrase, her mother said: "'Don't be a hater.' She said that all the time. Even if you said you hated broccoli, she'd say, 'Don't be a hater.'"
Her boyfriend was injured and treated at a hospital. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Because they were separated and he had her purse with her identification, the family struggled claim Tonks's body.
— Rachel Weiner
Michelle Vo, 32
from Los Angeles
Michelle Vo hadn’t always loved country music. In fact, it was fairly recently that a family member began introducing her to the genre. “Slowly she drifted toward it,“ recalled Diane Hawkins, 40, Vo’s oldest sister. “In country, the theme of each song is so sweet, she fell in love with it.”
Charismatic, energetic and independent, Vo decided to attend her first country music festival, traveling alone last week to Las Vegas.
Vo’s mother immigrated from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon, bringing along her two daughters. Vo was then born in the United States. Raised near San Jose, she graduated from Independence High School before attending the University of California at Davis.
Her Vietnamese name is “My,” which her sister says means “America.”
“It was the perfect American dream,” said Jeremiah Hawkins, Vo’s brother-in-law. “An immigrant family, against all odds, persevering.”
A high-achieving insurance agent, Vo worked at New York Life in Los Angeles and was an eager volunteer at the Red Cross.
“If they had let her go every day, she would have gone every day,” Diane Hawkins said. “She gave blood religiously, and they had to tell her she could only come back every two weeks.”
Her relationships with her family remained especially tight, especially with her mother and sisters. In the moments before the shooting, she’d been showing photos of her sisters to Kody Robertson, a new friend she’d met at the festival, bragging about how beautiful they are.
“She had such a bubbly energetic personality,” Robertson said. “Truly a beautiful person.”
— Wesley Lowery
Kurt von Tillow, 55
from Cameron Park, Calif.
Kurt von Tillow traveled annually to Las Vegas with family members for the Route 91 Harvest festival. A relative confirmed his death and said his loved ones were “devastated.” His sister and niece suffered non-life-threatening gunshot wounds in the attack, according to news reports.
“My brother-in-law was the most patriotic person you’ve ever met,” Mark Carson, who lives in Northern California, told KCRA-TV in Sacramento. “Guarantee you, he was covered in red, white and blue, with a Coors Light in his hand, smiling with his family and listening to some music.”
Von Tillow, an avid golfer, lived at the edge of Cameron Park Country Club, 30 miles east of Sacramento. Friends and relatives gathered at the club Monday to mourn him, traveling in a procession of golf carts, the TV station reported.
He was “just an overall great guy” with a “wonderful sense of humor, full of laughter and joy,” Charles Giampaolo of Torrington, Conn., told the Middletown Press in Connecticut. Giampaolo’s son is married to von Tillow’s daughter. The younger couple also were at the concert but were not hurt.
“He loved golf, loved his club, loved his family, loved his country,” Carson said. “He will be missed.”
— Paul Duggan
Bill Wolfe Jr., 42
from Shippensburg, Pa.
Bill Wolfe Jr., a wrestling and Little League coach, was celebrating his 20th anniversary with his wife, Robyn, at the Route 91 Harvest festival. Then the shots began. They were separated. His family in didn’t know where he was, and a prayer vigil was held for him Monday night at Doc Norcross Stadium in Shippensburg.
On Tuesday morning, the Shippensburg Police Department confirmed that Wolfe, a father of two, had died.
Wolfe was “a great family man,” said Tony Yaniello, who runs the Shippensburg high school varsity wrestling program. Wolfe, a former wrestler, led the elementary school team.
As a coach, Wolfe made sure kids had fun but also learned discipline and the rules of the sport, Yaniello said. “He’s a leader, a go-getter,” he said. “Kids always had his attention.”
He and his wife were deeply involved in wrestling, raising money for new equipment and uniforms and running tournaments.
Heidi Cassner Martin had known Wolfe since high school, when they worked at the same part-time job at a local restaurant. “He was an awesome guy,” Martin said. “He was just a good guy all around.” Wolfe was always there to lend a hand if she was overextended, she remembered. “He was a devoted, good, caring guy, just kind,” Martin said.
— Rachel Weiner