On a clear, cool evening in Las Vegas, thousands of people gathered for the third night of the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival. The mood was celebratory as festival attendees enjoyed dancing and music from country star Jason Aldean.
The “Neon Sleepover,” as the event was billed, hosted guests in RVs and was considered a family-friendly show. Though no fireworks were allowed, the initial popping noises sounded like fireworks to the concertgoers, so it wasn’t until Jason Aldean’s security team rushed the singer from the stage that people started to realize that they were in danger.
Details are still emerging about the 64-year-old man who took the lives of 58 people and injured over 500 more, but the people who should be remembered in all this are not the perpetrator, but the victims.
A nurse. A kindergarten teacher. A mom of three. A veteran. The victims of the Las Vegas shooting are a cross-section of America.
We will continue to update this story as we learn more about the victims.
Retired truck driver Brett Schwanbeck was a grandpa who loved the outdoors. According to a Gofundme account set up in his honor, Schwanbeck was shot in the first round of gunfire, and his girlfriend, Anna was able to take refuge in a dumpster. Schwanbeck had two kids and five grandkids .
Austin Meyer was celebrating his 24th birthday with his girlfriend in Las Vegas. He was a big fan of country radio DJ Bobby Bones and his humorous band, “The Raging Idiots”. A firefighter and a woman from Minnesota tried to save his life when he was hit by gunfire, but he died from his injuries. “Austin was a joy to be around. He always had a smile on his face, was witty and was always making people laugh,” Meyer’s sister Veronica Meyer said of Austin. “He was passionate about cars, loved sports, basketball in particular, and his favorite team was the Boston Celtics.”
With three children, eight grand children and one great grandchild, Pati Mestas was very loved. The California native used to work as a deli manager, but was spending her retirement doing things she enjoyed such as spending time with her grandkids and going to see her favorite country singer, Jason Aldean, perform. “If there weren’t people, if there wasn’t music, if there wasn’t laughter, she would find it,” her cousin, Tom Smith told USA Today.”Or she would do her best to make it.”
Iowa resident Carly Kreibaum’s death left a big hole in her small hometown of Sutherland, Iowa. With only 600 residents, the mom of two is being missed by the whole town. She went to the music festival with two friends who saw her get shot. “She was a kind, loving mother, just working and taking care of her children,” friend Dan Wetherell told the Des Moines Register. “The kids were just starting school. It’s a horrible, horrible thing”
Placentia, Ca. resident Nicol Kimura purchased her tickets for the Route 91 Harvest Country festival a year in advance. Kimura’s friend, Ryan Miller, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Kimura was “a beacon of light”.
Seattle resident Carrie Parsons was on a girls’ trip in Las Vegas when she was killed. Parsons had just gotten engaged in Hawaii. Parsons’ friend Laura Coopertold KOMO that Parsons loved country music and often attended festivals. “She always had a good time– always was dancing and singing and made sure everyone had a good time as well,” Cooper said. “She was a one in a million friend.”
Candice Bowers was a hard working single mother of three kids. So hardworking, in fact, that her family was delighted when she finally decided to take a vacation and drove out to Las Vegas with a friend for the country festival. “She was a generous girl,” her grandmother, Patricia Zacker, said to the Orange Country Register. “She never had any support, except herself.”
Jordyn Rivera was a member of the Honor Society at California State University, San Bernardino. The 21-year-old was in the Health Care Management program at the University. Rivera was attending the festival with her mom. “Las Vegas Review-JournalShe was a very genuine and caring person,” family friend Jonah Hamilton said to the . “Very close to her family.”
Andrea Castilla was a makeup artist and had planned the trip to Vegas as a birthday present to herself. According to People Magazine, Castilla’s boyfriend, Derek Miller, confessed to her sister that he had planned to propose at the end of their visit. “Derek had asked my dad’s permission,” Castilla’s sister Athena said. “He wanted to start a family with her.”
Camarillo, Ca. resident Chris Hazencomb had just turned 44 before attending the festival where his life was taken from him. Hazencomb was a fan of Jason Aldean and car racing, and loved the Los Angeles Angels.
Lomita, Ca.resident Lisa Patterson had gone to the country music festival with three friends. Her husband, Bob, texted her as soon as he heard about the gunfire. At 6 AM after no response he left with his two oldest kids to go find her. After hours of waiting he learned the truth, that she had been shot and died almost immediately. Lisa and Bob met when she was only 18. The couple have three kids together, ages 19, 16 and 8.
Brennan Stewart was at the concert with his girlfriend when shots rang out. Stewart lived in Las Vegas and was a lover of country music. His cover of Cole Swindell’s “You Should be Here” went viral after his death.
Erick Silva was working security for the Route 91 Harvest Festival. When the shots started firing, Silva sprang into action, working to save people who had been wounded. Unfortunately that put the brave young man into the line of fire and he himself was shot and killed.
Rocio Guillen Rocha was raised in Anaheim, Ca. Rocha had four kids who ranged in age from 18 years to one month. Rocha worked at Disneyland, at the New Orleans Square, serving food and beverages. News reports stated that she survived being shot long enough to climb a fence to escape, but later died at the hospital.
Minnesota resident Steve Berger was in Vegas to celebrate his 44th birthday. A Financial Advisor by trade, Berger was dad to three kids, ages 8 to 15. “He was charismatic, full of energy and breathed life into every room. He was always so positive,” Berger’s friend of 26 years said to the Star Tribune. “He was larger than life to me.”
Bakersfield resident Kelsey Meadows worked as a substitute teacher at Taft Union High School where she graduated in 2007. “She had a sweet spirit and love for children,” said the school’s principal to Bakersfield Now.
Kurt Von Tillow was one of the first to go down at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival. Von Tillow’s fall, alerted his family that the sounds they were hearing were not firecrackers. “My brother saved our lives basically. He took a bullet,” Von Tillow’s sister, Dee Ann Hyatt said to the Press Democrat. “Because of him we got on the ground and stayed there.”
The wife of a Cedar City fire fighter, 36-year-old Heather Alvarado was transported to the hospital but died of her injuries Monday night. “She was happiest when she was together with her family, especially her children and she would do anything for them,” her husband, Albert Alvarado said in a statement.
Denise Cohen and her companion, Bo Taylor, attended the Route 91 concert together to celebrate Taylor’s 52nd birthday the previous week. Cohen worked as a property manager in Santa Barbara, California, and had two grown sons. “Our mother was such a strong beautiful and happy woman who made a difference to the lives of everyone she knew,” KEYT reported Jeff Rees said of his mother. “She was such a happy person and enjoyed doing the things in life that she loved.”
Taylor was a Corrections Lieutenant for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation where he worked to lead inmates in fighting fires.
“The relationships between the officers and the inmate firefighters is much more personal,” spokesman Bill Sessa said to the Las Vegas Review Journal. “The officers take a lot of dedication to helping these inmates turn these lives around.”
Brian Fraser was a married dad of four kids when his life was brutally cut short. Fraser had been near the stage when the shooting broke out. “Brian was a rock of love and support to his family. He was a father that all four of his kids adored and looked up to,” Briana Flannigan wrote on a Gofundme page dedicated to Fraser. “A husand that loved his wife with all his heart.”
Christiana Duarte was attending the festival with her brother’s girlfriend, Ariel Romero. The two young women were up near the stage when Jason Aldean was performing, and both were shot. Duarte didn’t make it. Romero sustained a bullet wound to her face, but is in stable condition. Duarte graduated from the University of Arizona in May and had been working as a fan-services associate for the Los Angeles Kings.
Melissa Ramirez was a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, a devoted aunt to her infant niece, and a beloved sister and daughter. Ramirez traveled to the festival from her home in California and was attending with a friend.
Austin Davis’s parents flew to Las Vegas as soon as they realized their son must have been injured in the shooting. The 29-year-old pipe fitter from Riverside, Ca. had gone to the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival with friends, and his girlfriend lost contact with him after 8 PM Sunday night. It was 20 hours before his family knew what happened to him. “Austin was Lori and Gary’s only child. Their pride and joy to every extent,” Katelyn Hood said on a Gofundme page. “They raised the best son. He was the man’s man. He worked so very hard and took the most pride in that and anything he did.”
By all accounts, 52-year-old Victor Link was a fun-loving, world-traveling bon vivant who was adored by his fiancé and family. Link was a loan processor by trade, and spent his free time traveling and going to concerts. In fact, he and his fiancé had just returned from a trip to Europe just before the fateful festival where his life was taken from him. “He’s such a welcoming person,” Link’s nephew, Victor Link told Bakersfield.com. “The kind of guy who’s going to give a shirt off his back who I could always go to for guidance. I’m going to miss him more than I could imagine in this moment.”
Although Angie Gomez was working on becoming a nurse, the 20-year-old was a cheerleader at Riverside Polytechnic High School only two years ago. She was remembered fondly by her classmates and teachers as being a “fun-loving, sweet young lady with a great sense of humor,” according to a statement released by her former high school. “She was studying to be a nurse and she would have been so amazing at it,” Veronica Maldonado said to Heavy. “She was a natural born caregiver.”
Quinton Robbins was just starting out in life. A student at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Robbins was studying while working for the City of Henderson as a Recreational Assistant. “He had this contagious laugh and a wonderful smile that he was always quick to give,” Robbins’ cousin, Felicia Walker, stated on a Gofundme account set up in his name.
Receptionist Bailey Schweitzer was “exactly the kind of person you would want as your friend,” those who knew her said to Bakersfield.com. The California native spent time working at the Bakersfield Speedway, which is owned by her family. She was an avid country music fan.
Jordan McIldoon was one of three Canadians confirmed killed in the Las Vegas massacre. The 23-year-old had been attending the concert with his girlfriend, from whom he became separated as the shooting broke out. McIldoon was a “Self-described cowboy boot, tattoo-covered redneck who loved the outdoors,” his parents told the CBC. He grew up in Maple Ridge, British Columbia who was about to start trade school as a heavy duty mechanic apprentice. He would have turned 24 on Friday.
Calla Medig was visiting Las Vegas from Edmonton, but she was originally from Jasper, Alberta, Canada. The 28-year-old was working at Moxie’s Restaurant. Her boss, Scott Collingwood called Medig when he heard the news about the shooting, but got no response. “She was little bit of everything around here, she was kind of a rock and as of Thursday she would have been our newest manager,” Collingwood told CP24. “A lot of us around here have super heavy hearts and we already miss her.”
Chris Roybal was a Navy veteran who had completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Roybal’s mother expressed outrage at the loss of her son. “He went to combat and came back without being injured, and then goes to a concert and dies,” she told NBC 4. Roybal would have turned 29 next week.
Sonny Melton was a Registered Nurse with the Henry County Medical Center in Paris, Tenn. When he heard shots fired, Melton grabbed his wife, Heather, and started running with her. Heather credits her survival to her husband’s sacrifice. “He saved my life. He grabbed me and started running when I felt him get shot in the back,” she told WSMV Nashville. “I want everyone to know what a kind-hearted, loving man he was, but at this point, I can barely breathe.”
Rachel Parker was a Records Technician with the Manhattan Beach Police Department in California where she had worked for 10 years. Parker was attending the concert with several other MBPD employees, including one unnamed sworn officer who was also injured, but survived. “I just remember honestly that whenever I walked by she took the time to look my way, wave and smile,” MBPD Captain Tim Hageman told KXLY. “And that wasn’t just for me, that was for everybody. She was that kind of person.”
Disney CEO Bob Iger himself sent notice out about Carrie Barnette’s tragic death, according to People Magazine. The 34-year-old had been an employee at Disneyland’s Flo’s V-8 Cafe in Cars Land, when she took that fateful vacation to Las Vegas. “I know we have many more Disney employees impacted by this latest act of senseless violence, who were either on site or had loved ones who were. Our hearts are with each of them as they begin to process this terrifying experience,” the businessman concluded,” Iger’s communication stated.
Friends knew the 34-year-old Las Vegas Police Officer as Charles, Chuck, or “ChuckyHart”. He was off duty at the time of the shooting, simply enjoying the music festival with thousands of other concertgoers. Hartfield had just published his first book, titled Memoirs of a Public Servant, and was an Army veteran. He was married, with two kids, and he coached a youth football team.
“I figured he was probably busy helping others,” Hartfield’s friend Troy Rhett told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I don’t know a better man than Charles. They say it’s always the good ones we lose early. There’s no truer statement than that with Charles. … Our hearts have just been very heavy since hearing the news.”
Single mother of four Jessica Klymchuk was at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival with her fiancé. Klymchuk had traveled to Las Vegas from her home in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She was a bus driver, librarian, and educational assistant for St. Stephen School in Valleyview.
The mother of three came to Las Vegas from Marietta, Calif., with her husband Brian and three other couples. Ahlers’ children range in age from 3 to 14. Ahlers’ father in law called her “A young Mary Tyler Moore,” when he spoke to the Las Vegas Review-Journal stating, “She could have lit the world up with her smile.”
Vermont native Sandy Casey had everything going for her. The 35-year-old had a job as a special education teacher that she loved, and had just gotten engaged to be married. She was at the music festival with her fiancé when the shooting broke out. “Her parents ask for prayers and privacy for her sisters, coworkers, students and large extended family,” said a statement shared with the Burlington Free Press.
According to the Alaska Dispatch News, 35-year-old Adrian Murfitt was a commercial fisherman from Anchorage, Alaska. He was taking a photo with his best friend Bryan during Jason Aldean’s set when he was shot in the neck. He died in Bryan’s arms.
Jenny Parks, a mother of two in her thirties, was attending the festival with her husband, Bobby. According to People, she was hit by a bullet that traveled through her body before hitting Bobby in the arm.
Youth wrestling coach Bill Wolfe Jr. was separated from his wife in the chaos of the shooting. He was later identified as one of those killed in the attack.
The wife of a San Francisco police officer, Stacee Etcheber was shot while trying to flee the scene while her husband tended to the injured, KPIX reports. Etcheber was remembered by friends as a vivacious, kind and loving cowgirl. “Stacee was a wonderful, caring wife, mother, and daughter,” The San Francisco Police Department said in a statement. “She will be terribly missed.”
NBC San Diego reports San Diego attorney Jennifer Irvine owned her own law firm and was shot and killed while standing in the crowd during Jason Aldean’s set. She was well known in the San Diego area, and was friends with Kyle Kraska, the CBS Sports Director for KFMB. “She was like a little sister, I just adore Jen,” Kraska told the San Diego Union Tribune via phone interview.
Rhonda LeRocque was attending the festival with her husband in celebration of their wedding anniversary, reports Boston.com. Her husband and their young daughter were able to escape unharmed.
Mother-of-three Neysa Tonks was living in Las Vegas and worked at a software company. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, she was enjoying a day off with friends when she was shot and killed in the crowd.
High school secretary Lisa Romero was visiting from New Mexico, according to People. She is remembered by students and friends as a “happy-go-lucky person” who “never had an enemy in the world.” She had a daughter and two sons, and four grandchildren.
KTUU reports Anderson was a 49-year-old stay at home mom from Anchorage, and was one of two Alaskans killed in the attack. She was at the concert with her daughters. “She was the most amazing wife, mother and person this world ever had,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in a statement from her husband, John. We are so grateful and lucky for the time that we did have with her.
Denise Burditus was attending the show with her husband, who survived the attack, according to Heavy. A resident of Martinsburg, W.V., Burditus, she lived with her husband Tony of over 30 years. Roughly 30 minutes before the shooting began, she shared a photo to Twitter from t
Dana Gardner, 52, was described as a dedicated public servant of the San Bernardino, Calif. community. The San Bernardino Sun reports that she worked for the county for 26 years, and was described by a colleague as “a great employee” with a wealth of knowledge.
Susan Smith was described by the Ventura County Star as a passionate country music fan and beloved figure at the school where she worked as an office manager for three years. “She was just such a sweet person,” said the parent of a student at the school where she worked. Smith was married and had two grown children.
Jack Beaton died protecting his wife from the gunfire, according to BakersfieldNow.com. His wife stayed with him while he was dying until friends pulled her away to safety. They were at the festival celebrating their 23rd anniversary. Beaton is survived by his wife and two children.
Thomas Day, Jr. was attending the concert with his four adult children, according to the Los Angeles Times. Day was a homebuilder from Riverside, Calif. “He was the best dad. That’s why the kids were with him,” his father, Thomas Day Sr., said. “They’re crushed.”
SCVnews.com reports John Phippen, of Santa Clarita, was at the show with his son Travis, who was wounded in the attack. “He had a heart that was larger than life and a personality to match,” wrote his neighbor on a GoFundMe page. Phippin had six children and one grandson.
San Jose, Ca. native Michelle Vo was described by friends as “a human charging station” for her energy and spark. According to SF Gate, Vo worked for an insurance agency and donated blood every two weeks. The Washington Post reported that Vo was hit immediately as the firing began, and Kody Robertson, a man she had just met, shielded her and carried her to a truck to be transported to the hospital. Her wounds were too grievous, however, and she died at the hospital.
Tara Roe Smith came to Las Vegas from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. When the firing started, Smith became separated from her husband and friends in the chaos. “She was a wonderful mother and our family is going to miss her dearly,” Smith’s aunt, Valerie Rodgers said to the CBC. She had two children and worked as an educational assistant.
Keri Galvan was a mother of three kids, and a server at a steakhouse. “Her days started and ended with doing everything in her power to be a wonderful mother,” Galvan’s sister said on a Gofundme page set up in her honor. The 31-year-old was at the concert with her husband and friends when she was shot.
Laura Shipp attended the concert with her son, Corey Shipp, who is a Marine Corps Reservist. Ship was a fan of the L.A. Dodgers and she loved country music. “Of all the people, I would have never have thought this would happen to Laura,” Shipp’s high school friend Aimee Mack told the Thousand Oaks Acorn. “She was always the rock of the group, you always knew where you stood with her and she was a good friend to have.”
City of Las Vegas Management Analyst Cameron Robinson was at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival with his boyfriend when the two were shot. Robinson’s boyfriend, Bobby Eardley was hit with shrapnel and was unable to save Robinson, who was hit in the neck. Robinson lived in Utah but commuted to Las Vegas every day for work. “He loved people and to serve people. He was a character, he had us all laughing,” Eardley’s mother said of Robinson. “We could be in the dumps and then he’d have us all in laughter. A great loss of a great man.”
We will continue to update this story as we learn more.
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