<> The lives lost in Las Vegas | The Daily Gazette

Subscriber login

National & World

The lives lost in Las Vegas

The lives lost in Las Vegas

Stories of some of those who died
The lives lost in Las Vegas
Mourners at a vigil for the victims of the deadly shooting.
Photographer: Hilary Swift/The New York Times

Dozens of people were killed and hundreds were injured Sunday when a gunman opened fire at a country music festival in Las Vegas. Here are the stories of some of those who died.

Hannah Ahlers, 34

From Beaumont, Calif.

Ahlers' life was wrapped up in her family, her brother Lance Miller said. She was the mother of three kids, ages 3, 11 and 14, and married her husband Brian Ahlers when she was 17 years old. 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 were at the concert when a bullet struck her in the head, Miller confirmed. Her husband 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 Alvarado, 35

From Enoch, Utah

Alvarado died of injuries from the concert shooting, said Cedar City, Utah, police Sgt. Jerry Womack. She was married to Albert Alvarado, a firefighter.

"It is with heavy hearts that we acknowledge the passing of Heather Warino Alvarado, wife of Cedar City Firefighter Albert Alvarado," the Cedar City Fire Department wrote in a news release.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Alvarado/Warino family," the release said. "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

From Anchorage

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. when 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. Chief executive Robert Iger said in a tweet that Barnette's passing was "tragic."

"A senseless, horrific, act, and a terrible loss for so many," Iger said.

After the news, the messages on Barnette's Facebook -- which was converted into a memorial page - 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, 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 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

From Milwaukee, Wis.

Berger was 6'6", a former college basketball player, and his father wonders if his height helped kill him during a trip meant to celebrate his 44th birthday.

"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, Wis.

A Wauwatosa, Wis. native, Berger was living outside Milwaukee with his three children, aged 15, 11 and 8 years old. His parents now must figure out how to care for them.

When Berger was gunned down, 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

Denise Burditus, 50

From Martinsburg, W.Va.

Burditus and her husband, Tony, are both smiling with the Route 91 Harvest Festival stage and Mandalay Bay hotel in the background in a Facebook picture posted Sunday at 9:22 p.m.

A gunman fired into the crowd at about 10 p.m., and Denise died in her husband's arms, Tony wrote on Facebook. The West Virginia resident was a mother of two and grandmother of four and had been married to her husband for 32 years. Denise described herself as a college student and as semi-retired on her Facebook page.

"It saddens me to say that I lost my wife of 32 years, a mother of two, soon to be grandmother of 5 this evening in the Las Vegas Shooting. Denise passed in my arms. I LOVE YOU BABE," Tony wrote.

Following that post, other friends took to Facebook to share memories of Denise, whom one friend described as "beautiful and full of life."

"Denise, you sure showed the rest of us how to live - with so much spunk and spirit, devoutly loyal to your family and extended family, because that's how you treated every one of us," a friend wrote on Facebook.

Recent Facebook posts show the couple smiling in Las Vegas while hanging out by the pool, out to dinner, at the festival. In many, Denise Burditus is kissing her husband's cheek.

On Sunday, Denise Burditus had posted that she was "already planning" for the 2018 festival.

— 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 a 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 wound 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

Thomas Day Jr., 42

From Riverside, Calif.

Day 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 L.A. 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 the Portrait Construction company, which did commercial and residential work and renovations in California starting 1990. In 2012, the company won awards for its work on a 211-unit co-op in San Francisco.

— Rachel Weiner and Janell Ross

Stacee Etcheber

From Novato, Calif.

Stacee Etcheber, a hairdresser and mother of two who was separated from her husband during the chaos of the shooting, was confirmed as one of the victims Tuesday.

"It's with a heavy heart and deep sorrow, Stacee Etcheber has passed away," Al Etcheber, who identified himself as Stacee's brother-in-law, 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, Fox 2 KTVU reported. When the shooting erupted, Vinnie told his wife to run to safety as he began to help victims, the San Francisco Bay area news 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.

Etcheber was reported missing Monday, as her family and friends circulated a Facebook post pleading for information on her whereabouts. Al Etcheber drove from northern California to Las Vegas to help his brother search for her.

— Abigail Hauslohner

Keri Galvan, 31

From Thousand Oaks, Calif.

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. 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.

Dana Gardner died enjoying the country music festival in Las Vegas with her college-age daughter. Her daughter, Kayla Gardner, survived.

On Facebook, Kayla shared a photo of her and her mom 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 Clerk's office, which confirmed her death to the San Bernardino Sun. Her boss, Bob Dutton, told the newspaper that she was an employee there for 26 years and was a "go-to" person and "dedicated public servant."

A GoFundMe page set up by friends of the Gardners on behalf of her children notes that her son, Ryan, is expecting his first baby this month.

"A time for them to celebrate a new life coming into this world will now be hindered by the loss of their mom's life," the friends wrote on the fundraising site.

Gardner's brother-in-law, Adam Foster, wrote a message to her on his Facebook page. He said he'd miss their "silly conversations."

"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

From Riverside, Calif.

Gomez traveled from Southern California to the concert with her high school sweetheart to toast a new job as a certified nursing assistant, family friend Tyler Smith confirmed.

"She was just celebrating the music she loved," Smith said. "She was a light to everyone in her life; she was just the best kind of person, she was what the world needs."

Gomez graduated from Riverside Polytechnic High in Riverside, Calif., in 2015, the school confirmed on Facebook. A member of the school's cheer and song team, Gomez was remembered by her squad on Facebook as "having a warm heart and a loving spirit."

In a statement to the news media, the Riverside Unified School District described Gomez as "always seen with a smile on her face whenever she was on campus." She was enrolled at Riverside Community College.

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, Smith said, once in the shoulder and twice in the arm. Her boyfriend of five years 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 to save her life.

"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

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 his wife, Veronica, Rhett said.

Family members said that 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

Jennifer Irvine

Ryan Mallinaux, a bail bondsman in San Diego, said he often spoke to Irvine on the phone about clients who needed bail but that he met her in person only once. They met in person for the first time 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," Mallinaux 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

Jessica Klymchuk

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

Rhonda LeRocque, 42

From Tewksbury, Mass.

LeRocque and her husband, Jason, had attended Vegas' 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

Victor Link, 55

From Shafter, Calif.

It was a running joke at the office that if you needed Link at a weekend meeting, you better ask a year in advance. Link loved music, especially country, and he would travel all over California with his wife, Lynn, to festivals every month, said Andrew Soss, his former boss and friend. Link was always going somewhere, doing something, he said.

"He was the most genuine, stand-up guy you'll ever meet," Soss said. "He brought a smile to everyone's face."

It wasn't until after several desperate hours of calling local hospitals and the coroner -- and failing to reach Lynne or his friends who had attended the festival with Link - that Link's sister, Lisa Hiestand, finally confirmed that her brother wasn't coming home.

Though she said she was struggling to find the words, Hiestand called her brother the family's rock. "He was the best of us," she said. "He always had the time, no matter what, for family and friends."

Link's love of music started young. As far back as she can remember, her brother would buy records, CDs, music in all forms, Hiestand said. And he had finally found someone who loved live music as much as him, his fiancée Lynne, she said.

Link spent more than five years working as a pipeline manager, and as "Tequila Quality Control Tester," as it joked in his company biography. Soss said Link had just left at the beginning of September for a new job at Finance of America, where he would oversee a whole branch.

More than just an employee, Link was a close friend, Soss said. Victor and Lynne Link were the first to visit him in the hospital after his daughter was born, he said.

"He was just one of those people who everyone was better for knowing," he said.

— Drew Gerber

Jordan Mcildoon, 23

Heather Gooze, who was bartending at the House of Blues bar on the festival grounds, held Mcildoon in her arms as he died. She called his mother, 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 McIldoon's girlfriend, Amber Bereza, who had made it out of the festival alive, she told Maclean's magazine.

"'He's the love of my life. Are you sure?'" she said Bereza asked. "I said, 'Yes. He's gone.'"

McIldoon's parents told the CBC their son, a mechanic a month shy of his 24th birthday, was their only child.

"We just don't know what to do," they said.

— Rachel Weiner

Kelsey Breanne Meadows, 28

From Taft, Calif.

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

Sonny Melton

From Big Sandy, Tenn.

Melton was a registered nurse at Henry County Medical Center in Paris, Tenn. His wife, Heather Melton, is a surgeon.

Adrian Murfitt, 35

From Anchorage

Ryan Kopiasz met 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 a commercial 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

The Manhattan Beach, Calif., police department confirmed that Parker, a police records technician, died in the hospital after being shot Sunday night. She worked for the Southern California department for 10 years, according to a news release.

— Colby Itkowitz

Jenny Parks

From Lancaster, Calif.

They were high school sweethearts from suburban Los Angeles who loved country music and loved 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 Parks.

"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, where she taught for three years.

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.

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 Dodger games.

— Peter Hermann

Carrie Parsons

From Seattle, Wash.

She adored country singer Eric Church. And when Parsons saw him perform in Las Vegas on Friday night, she took a selfie with a friend from the audience with Church visible on 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 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.

A childhood friend, Colby Rezayat, shared an old photo of them on Facebook that showed Parsons dancing.

"When I saw this photo I knew it was the right one to put here because it's such a microcosm of who you were and the goodness you gifted to anyone you met...you always made me laugh and I'll always cherish sharing our childhood," he wrote. "I didn't realize until yesterday what a gift that would be to my heart."

"I'm not sure what to do next, but I started my morning writing to our senators," Rezayat added. "It felt like something tangible I could do to begin this grieving process of the loss of a wonderful childhood friend to such an abhorrent act of violence.

— Colby Itkowitz

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 Little Rock, Calif.

Ramirez had been looking forward to the country concert 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 Little Rock, 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 her cousin, Yesenia Mancilla, 20, who grew up with her in 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 Cancun, 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. "She was the best cook in the family," Mancilla said. Ramirez graduated from California State University, Bakersfield, with a bachelor's degree in business.

Though Ramirez came to Las Vegas with friends, they had mostly separated by the time Aldean took the stage. She ended up watching with one male friend. About 10 p.m., Ramirez called her little sister. "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."

She was shot and died near the stage.

— Peter Hermann

Jordyn Rivera, 21

From La Verne, Calif.

Life has seemed quieter without 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," Hamilton said, 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 was a fourth-year student at California State University, 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, wrote 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 wrote.

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

Cameron Robinson, 27

From St. George, Utah

In the hours before he was shot, 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, Utah, 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 there, 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 passed away. Now, her family is trying to find a way to explain to her grandchildren, especially Robinson's 4-year-old nephew, that their uncle has died.

"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 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 was an 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

Quinton Robbins, 20

From Henderson, Nev.

When Robbins first clutched his chest, his girlfriend thought something was wrong with his sugar levels, she told his grandmother. They 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

Tara Roe, 34

Roe had two kids and worked as an education assistant, her employer said. Expressing "sadness, shock and grief," John Bailey, school superintendent in the town of High River, in Alberta, Canada, 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 Smith, and other relatives, became separated from them when a gunman opened fire on throngs of country-music concertgoers, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 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, 42

From Gallup, N.M.

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 today 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

From Denver

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, 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

Bailey Schweitzer, 20

From Bakersfield, Calif.

Schweitzer was a receptionist at Infinity Communications and Consulting in Bakersfield, Calif. 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 on Sunday evening, but Schweitzer wasn't expected to be back at work until Tuesday. She decided to stay for the final show, a performance from Jason Aldean.

On Monday evening, her co-workers held a candlelight vigil in her honor at their offices.

— Rachel Weiner

Laura Shipp, 50

From Las Vegas

When a gunman fired bullets into the crowd, Corey Shipp, 23, wasn't with his mother Laura Shipp, who had gone to the bathroom. Corey searched for his 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.

"...my mother is still not accounted 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," Shipp's brother Steve Shipp said, but they held out hope that the happy Dodgers fan they all loved would be found soon.

About 12 hours later, Shipp's niece Paris let friends know that Shipp 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!"

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, he said, and now his "one concern and one concern only" is looking out for Corey.

"He's broken," Steve said of Corey, adding that Shipp did a "great job" raising him and was always bragging about "anything and everything he did."

"She just lived," he said of Shipp. "She was a pretty happy person."

— Ellie Silverman

Erick Silva, 22

From Las Vegas

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

Brennan Stewart, 30

From Las Vegas

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

Susan Smith, 53

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 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 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 children are writing letters to Smith's family and drawing cards, she said.

— Abigail Hauslohner

Brennan Stewart, 30

From Las Vegas

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

Kurt von Tillow, 55

From Cameron Park, Calif.

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 on 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

Neysa Tonks, 46

From Las Vegas

Tonks, 46, was a big fan of Jason Aldean, and she attended the music festival with her boyfriend.

Her brother, Cody Davis, confirmed that Tonks was killed in the gunfire during Aldean's set. 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 was struggling to claim Tonks's body.

She was raised in Utah and moved to Las Vegas about 10 years ago, 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."

She was also a successful businesswoman, he said, working at the IT firm Technologent. In her free time, she loved taking her kids to the beach, Davis said, and water-skiing. When she went back to Utah, she would ski the mountains.

"She was just completely outgoing," he said.

— Rachel Weiner

Michelle Vo, 32

From Los Angeles

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 everyday 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 made at the festival, bragging about how beautiful they are. "She had such a bubbly energetic personality," Robertson said. "Truly a beautiful person."

— Wesley Lowery

Bill Wolfe Jr.

From Shippensburg, Pa.

The wrestling and Little League coach was among the victims of the shooting, the Shippensburg Police Department confirmed in a statement Tuesday morning. Wolfe was at the concert with his wife, Robyn, who survived. They were separated and his condition was unknown until Tuesday; a prayer vigil was held for him at the town's Doc Norcross Stadium Monday night. "We ask that you all help us keep Bill's memory alive through your continued commitment to this League and the youth that Bill impacted on a daily basis," the Shippensburg Little League said in a statement.

— Rachel Weiner

View Comments
Hide Comments
0 premium 1 premium 2 premium 3 premium article articles remaining SUBSCRIBE TODAY
Thank you for reading. You have reached your 30-day premium content limit.
Continue to enjoy Daily Gazette premium content by becoming a subscriber or if you are a current print subscriber activate your online access.