Sacrifice-II: Ordinary but exceptional people died in the Las Vegas slaughter

by WorldTribune Staff, Oct. 15, 2017

Second of Two Parts  [Part I – Sacrifice: The forgotten victims of the Las Vegas massacre had lives]

The Oct. 1 massacre in Las Vegas killed 58 people and wounded 489 at the Route 91 Harvest festival. Four days later the The Clark County Coroner released the names of all 58 victims who were attending the outdoor country music concert. They ranged in age from 20 to 67 and hailed from states throughout the nation and Canada. All had lives to treasure.

Austin Meyer.

Austin Meyer, 24, Reno, Nev.

Meyer was a 2011 graduate of Seaside High School in Monterey, Calif., and had recently move from Marina, Calif., to Reno to attend Truckee Meadows Community College.

“Austin was a joy to be around. He always had a smile on his face, was (witty) and was always making people laugh. He was passionate about cars, loved sports, basketball in particular, and his favorite team (was) the Boston Celtics,” Veronica Meyer, Austin’s sister, told KSBW-8, an NBC affiliate in Salinas, Calif.

She said Meyer dreamed of opening an auto repair shop after graduation, in addition to looking forward to getting married and starting a family. Austin Meyer and his fiancee Dana Getreu headed for Las Vegas after she surprised him with tickets to a country music festival on the Strip.

Meyer was among those killed by a gunman who opened fire on the music festival Sunday. Getreu survived.

“He was a wonderful young man and my future son-in-law,” Gary Getreu, Dana’s father, wrote in a statement released by the college. “He loved attending the automotive program at your school and praised it all the time.” In one photo posted on social media, Meyer is shown kissing Dana Getreu on the cheek as she squints and smiles broadly. “The loss and grief his family and mine feel at this time is beyond belief,” Gary Getreu said.


Adrian Murfitt

Adrian Murfitt, 35, Anchorage, Alaska

Adrian Murfitt worked as a commercial fisherman and was a fan of country music

Brian MacKinnon, 33, described his childhood friend as an animal lover and goofball. “He made me laugh. He was like an Alaskan cowboy, but when he saw a dog he’d turn into a 10-year-old kid,” MacKinnon said.

MacKinnon was with Murfitt when gunfire raked the crowd and said his friend died in his arms.

“Can’t describe in words how thankful and grateful I am to have you show me what a real true gentleman you are,” Christine Young said of Murfitt on Facebook.

“I’ll keep the advice you gave me and I promise to take it as I go through life moving forward… you’ll be kept in a special place in my heart.”


Rachael Parker.

Rachael Parker, 33, Long Beach, Calif.

Rachael Parker, a records technician at the Manhattan Beach Police Department, was among four off-duty department employees who attended the concert Sunday night.

Parker had been in Las Vegas helping a friend celebrate her birthday, according to Arlene Richardson, a local real estate broker and friend of Parker. After the shooting, and when Richardson couldn’t get in contact with Parker, Richardson reached out to another friend of Parker’s.

“I was trying to get in touch with her to find out if she was okay because Rachael wasn’t returning my texts, I just had a terrible feeling,” Richardson told the Long Beach Post.

Parker worked for the Police Department for 10 years.


Bobby and Jenny Parks and their children. / CBS

Jennifer Parks, 35, Lancaster, Calif.

Jennifer Parks lived in Palmdale, California, with her husband and two children. She was killed last week in the Las Vegas massacre.

“We had a great time, we were having an amazing time,” said her husband, Bobby Parks.

Parks said he knew something was wrong when “the music stopped. People started panicking and running, just getting down.”

He said his wife “kinda fell on the floor … she was hit in the head.”

Jenny and Bobby Parks met when she was 5 and he was 9. They’ve been together for 30 years, married for 17 and have two children.

Jennifer Parks had just started her third year of teaching kindergarten.


Carrie Parsons.

Carrie Parsons, 31, Seattle, Wash.

Carrie Parsons was a huge fan of country music singer Eric Church and, as he played at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Sunday night, she stood near the stage and took a selfie. She posted the photograph on Facebook, adding the message: “Night made! #ericchurch #vegas #rt91harvest.”

The next day, a friend of Parsons sent a note to the singer on Facebook. “My good friend Carrie Parsons lost her life in the route 91 harvest shooting Sunday. She loved your music,” Carolyn Parker wrote. “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.”

Church hasn’t yet responded, but his fans have, including one who wrote: “Prayers for her, her family and friends, and all the people directly affected by this tragic and cowardly act of evil.”

Parsons’ brother Jeff Parsons announced her death via Facebook on Monday.

“My sister Carrie has passed away due to her wounds as part of the shooting in Vegas,” Jeff Parsons wrote. “We have no more news, as we are not yet permitted to see her.”


Lisa Patterson.

Lisa Patterson, 46, Lomita, Calif.

It was rare for more than a few hours to pass without Lisa and Robert Patterson checking in on each other with a call or a text message. “We had a great marriage,” Robert Patterson said. “We loved each other very much.”

Patterson said his 46-year-old wife was their family’s leader. The couple had three children — two daughters, 19 and 8, and a 16-year-old son.

“She was the PTA president. … We’d been involved with our church since we first got together and that was her main focus … our church, our family, our business, and making sure that we were happy,” Robert Patterson, 53, said in a phone interview.

The couple owned a hardwood flooring business.

Lisa Patterson texted her husband Sunday around 8 p.m. — a GIF of a girl alone on a seesaw, with the message, “miss you.”

A few hours after receiving the text from Lisa, Robert got a call letting him know that there had been a shooting at the country music concert in Las Vegas, which she was attending with friends. “I immediately called [Lisa]. I got no answer,” he said. “I texted. Nothing.”

At 6 a.m., unable to get any information, Robert left his youngest daughter with family, and started driving with his son to Las Vegas, roughly 300 miles from their home in Lomita. His eldest daughter, who attends college in northern Arizona, met them in Las Vegas.

At around 8 p.m., an official at the convention center went to talk to Robert and said they would go to another room. That’s when he knew he wasn’t going to see his wife alive again.

They told him she had died. They returned her purse, covered in blood. Inside were her things — her wallet, cash, her phone with dozens of missed calls and 170 text messages.


John Phippen.

John Phippen, 56, Santa Clarita, Calif.

John Phippen of Santa Clarita was born in New York and later moved to California.

He was dancing next to his son, Travis, at the country music festival in Las Vegas when he was struck by a bullet in the lower back.

Travis, an emergency medical technician, carried his father to a car that took them to Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center, where the elder Phippen died from his injuries.

“He was my best friend,” Travis said. “He never did anything wrong to anybody. He was always kind and gentle. He was the biggest teddy bear I knew.”

He was the owner of JP Specialties, a home remodeling company in Santa Clarita.


Melissa Ramirez.

Melissa Ramirez, 26, Littlerock, Calif.

Melissa Ramirez was from Littlerock, Calif., according to her Facebook page, about 50 miles northeast of where she lived in North Hollywood.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cal State Bakersfield in 2014.

Ramirez loved to surround herself with her extended family. She would routinely make trips home over weekends while in school, the New York Times reported.

“She always helped her parents, and just wanted to be there,” her cousin, Fabiola Farnetti, told the Times.


Jordyn Rivera.

Jordyn Rivera, 21, La Verne, Calif.

Jordyn Rivera was a fourth-year student at Cal State San Bernardino and had spent a summer studying abroad in London.

“We will remember and treasure her for her warmth, optimism, energy, and kindness,” university President Tomás D. Morales wrote in a letter to the campus community. website.

On Facebook, friends mourned Rivera. “She was a beautiful person with a welcoming smile and so young,” Denise Gutierrez wrote. “I still can’t believe it. We were just with her last week.”


Quinton Robbins.

Quinton Robbins, 20, Henderson, Nev.

Robbins was an avid fisherman and snowboarder who spent his final moments with his sister, according to social media posts.

Robbins studied at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and worked in recreation for the city of Henderson.

Robbins ran adult recreational sports for the city and was also an assistant freshman boys basketball coach at Basic Academy, a high school in Henderson. He volunteered to coach his younger brother’s flag football team, as well as a youth T-ball team.

“Early this morning I lost one of my only two nephews to some evil in this world,” his uncle, Mike Wells of Gilbert, Ariz., said on Facebook Monday. “This kid was seriously the perfect kid! Had no enemies and treated my kids, his cousins, better than anyone.”

Wells said his nephew was at the show with his girlfriend, and they took cover when the gunfire began. Robbins stood up to look for an escape and was shot in the chest, he said.

Two witnesses, described as a Marine and a nurse, grabbed Robbins and took him to a hospital

His sister, Skylar Robbins, wrote on Twitter, “Laying next to you in the hospital bed all night was the hardest thing I’ve gone through, but you made me feel so at peace and I know you are with me.”


Cameron Robinson.

Cameron Robinson, 28, St. George, Utah

Cameron Robinson lived in St. George but worked for the city of Las Vegas as a legal records specialist.

Friends have remembered him on a page, which had raised over $23,000 by Wednesday to pay for funeral costs and help his family.

“He loved to cook, entertain, run marathons, travel, go camping, boating, and the outdoors in general and above all surround himself with those he loved and others,” the page read. “He is an amazing example to all and brought so much light to those he came in contact with.”


Tara Roe.

Tara Roe, 34, Alberta, Canada

A Canadian mother of two young boys who worked as an educational assistant and a model was attending the concert with her husband.

The Foothills School Division in High River, Alberta, where Smith worked is responding with sadness, shock and grief, Superintendent John Bailey said.

Sophia Models International, where Roe worked for 10 years, also lamented the loss of her “friendly face” and “caring spirit.”

“She was a wonderful mother and our family is going to miss her dearly,” Val Rodgers, Roe’s aunt, told the Canadian Press.


Lisa Romero.

Lisa Romero-Muniz, 48, Gallup, N.M.

Romero-Muniz spent all of her time around children, including her own and four grandchildren.

She worked as a counselor at elementary, middle-school and high-school levels for Gallup-McKinley County Schools. Her colleagues and her students, flooded social media with glowing tributes to her: “a loving person who went out of her way to give advice to students.”

District superintendent Mike Hyatt said she, “was an incredible loving and sincere friend, mentor and advocate for students in many of our schools.”


Christopher Roybal.

Christopher Roybal, 28, Aurora, Colo.

Navy veteran Christopher Roybal survived combat in Afghanistan and had recently moved with his wife to Colorado.

Roybal was one week shy of turning 29 when he traveled with his mother, Debbie Allen, to celebrate his birthday.

They stayed on the 32nd floor at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino — the same floor where gunman Stephen Paddock had been staying, Allen said.

The Denver resident had a special relationship with his mother. “He was never ashamed to go out with me. We would go to concerts together,” Allen said. They often had date nights where they would watch chick flicks.

Roybal, 28, served from 2007 to 2012, according to his public service record. He was deployed to Afghanistan from July 2011 to May 2012 as part of a military working dog team, according to the U.S. Navy. In a Facebook post he described what others at the Las Vegas concert experienced.

“What’s it like to be shot at? It’s a nightmare no amount of drugs, no amount of therapy and no amount of drunk talks with your war veteran buddies will ever be able to escape,” he wrote.


Brett Schwanbeck.

Brett Schwanbeck, 61, Bullhead City, Ariz.

Brett Schwanbeck loved being outside, said Rebecca Perkins, Schwanbeck’s great-niece.

“He loved camping, boating, fishing, hunting,” Perkins said. “If it was outside, he’d be there.”

Perkins, 24, said that whenever she had a new boyfriend, Schwanbeck would be sure to size him up and warn the person not to hurt his great-niece. He was like another dad, she said.

“He was like my little protector,” she said. “He was just always looking out for me and making sure I had everything I needed.”

In addition to Orozco, Schwanbeck is survived by three children and five grandchildren.


Bailey Schweitzer.

Bailey Schweitzer, 20, Bakersfield, Calif.

Bailey Schweitzer was a former high-school cheerleader and a receptionist with a smile that could light up a room, her loved ones recalled.

Schweitzer started work seven months ago as a receptionist at Infinity Communications and Consulting, a software company in Bakersfield. She quickly made an impression.

“Bailey was always the ray of sunshine in our office on a cloudy day,” said Chief Executive Fred Brakeman. “No one could possibly have a bad day when Bailey was around.

Facebook photos show her hugging family, posing as a bridesmaid, throwing her pompoms in the air and goofing around at her family’s race track, the Bakersfield Speedway in Bakersfield, Calif.

She was with her mom, Crissy Schweitzer, at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.

She was most excited to hear Luke Combs play, co-worker Katelynn Cleveland told the Californian. During another set, when Cleveland’s favorite song came on, Schweitzer called and broadcast it to her friend.


Laura Shipp

Laura Shipp, 50, Las Vegas

Laura Shipp moved to Las Vegas five years ago to be closer to her son, Corey, a 23-year-old Marine who she had raised on her own.

The two were separated for a moment during the concert when the shooting broke out. Her brother, Steve Shipp, rushed to Las Vegas and ran from hospital to hospital to find her. But they eventually got the call that she had died.

Steve Shipp was grieving, but was more concerned over Shipp’s son, who is serving in a unit based in Las Vegas.

“He just lost the most important person in his life,” he said. “She was his world and he was hers.”


Erick Silva.

Erick Silva, 21, Las Vegas

Erick Silva was working Jason Aldean’s set at the Route 91 Harvest Festival as a security guard, right in front of the stage, inside a barricade.

When the shooting started, the 21-year-old helped concertgoers over the barricade so they could escape through a nearby exit.

Then he was shot.

Erick Silva was the type of guy who bought hamburgers for elderly people who found themselves homeless and without supper last Christmas. Just a week ago, the 22-year-old helped a neighbor haul an old sofa to the dump, refusing to accept money in exchange.

“He had a hard time saying no,” his stepfather, Gregorio de la Rosa, said. “He was very generous. He liked to help other people.”

So it was only fitting that Silva, a security guard stationed near the front of the Route 91 Harvest music festival, would spend the last moments of his life helping others, his mother, Angelica Cervantes, said during a vigil Tuesday at the family’s home in Las Vegas.

Silva lifted concertgoers over a barricade and to safety near the front of the stage where he was stationed Sunday night, said Jay Purves, vice president for the Las Vegas branch of Contemporary Services Corp.

“He was a hero,” Purves told Cervantes. “He was saving lives.”

Silva, a Las Vegas resident and three-year employee of Contemporary Services Corporation (CSC) Nevada, was the “epitome of integrity,” according to CSC vice president Jay Purves.

“He was always the first one there and the last one to leave and went above and beyond what we ever asked of him,” Purves said.

In an interview with KTNV, Silva’s mother wept, saying her son had “a bright future” and that she was still expecting him to walk into the room and say her name.


Susan Smith.

Susan Smith, 53, Simi Valley, Calif.

For most students and visitors to Vista Fundamental Elementary School in Simi Valley, Susan Smith was usually the first person they would see when they walked into the school.

“She’s the hub…really the heart of the school,” said Jake Finch, a spokesperson for the Simi Valley Unified School District.

““She was the office manager. … She was the center of it. Everyone who came through those doors she knew. She knew the children, she knew the staff, she knew the parents,” he said.

Smith, an ardent country music fan who was married with two adult children, attended the music festival with two friends from the school district.


Brennan Stewart

Brennan Stewart, 30, Las Vegas

Friends and family of Stewart described him as a rowdy, fun-loving singer who was always the life of the party. But when the gunfire started, another side of Stewart came out.

“Brennan was the kind of guy who always put others before himself, including up to the moment he lost his life,” read a family statement. “Brennan shielded his girlfriend and helped others to safety.”

The amateur country-music songwriter has been the focus of a wide variety of tributes. Many people are rewatching his YouTube videos, including his rendition of “You Should Be Here” by Cole Swindell. Some are wearing cowboy boots in his honor. Others are planning a karaoke night to sing songs and collect donations for his large, extended family.

For the family of Stewart, who worked for a custom-home builder in Las Vegas, that focus on the music is a perfect way to honor him. “If country music ever disappeared, I feel like I would too,” he once wrote.


Derrick ‘Bo’ Taylor.

Derrick ‘Bo’ Taylor, 56, Oxnard, Calif.

Lt. Derrick “Bo” Taylor’s was a California corrections officer for 29 years and attended the concert with his girlfriend, Denise Cohen (see Part I) .

By the time the chaos was over, both were dead.

Taylor was the commander of the state’s conservation center, which houses inmates who fight wildfires. His supervisor, Capt. Timothy Ellis, called Taylor an “outstanding” officer.

Taylor was survived by two adult sons.

The 56-year-old Taylor got started with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in 1988 at the Richard A. McGee Correctional Training Center in Galt, Calif.

In 2004, Taylor began working as a camp commander for the La Cima Conservation Camp — one of 43 camps in California that houses inmates who fight wildfires. He stayed there for 10 years before transferring to Ventura Conservation Camp.

“It’s a job that requires interpersonal skills with inmates,” California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Bill Sessa said in a phone interview Wednesday. “He was very well thought of throughout the department and was approachable.”

Taylor’s colleagues were stunned by news of his death at the country music festival in Las Vegas.

“There are no words to express the feeling of loss and sadness regarding Bo’s passing,” Warden Joel Martinez wrote in a memo to staff, according to a newsletter by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Martinez said Taylor’s loss “will be felt throughout the prison, conservation camps and department.”


Neysa Tonks and sons.

Neysa Tonks, 46, Las Vegas

Tonks was a vivacious single mother of three who relished life, her 14-year-old son recalled.

“She lived life like it was her last each day,” Greysen Tonks told CNN. “And she didn’t care what anybody thinks.”

Technologent, her employer, established a GoFundMe page on behalf of Tonks’ family and three boys, Kaden, Braxton and Greysen. On Oct. 5, it had already raised nearly $189,000.

She urged her friends and family to be positive, using the catchphrase “Don’t be a hater,” her mother Debbie Davis told CNN.

“She was just a wonderful person with a huge light that we will not let be dimmed.”


Michelle Vo.

Michelle Vo, 32, Los Angeles

Michelle Vo had an “independent, strong personality” and loved traveling the world, even traveling to Europe alone a few years ago, her brother-in-law Paul Warren said.

The daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, she loved the U.S. and “took full advantage of the freedoms she was given.”

As a successful and ambitious life-insurance agent, Vo had prepared plans for what should happen in the event of her own death.

Vo graduated from UC Davis, studied abroad and was employed in the Bay Area before moving to Southern California, according to her profile on LinkedIn. She worked at New York Life Insurance Co. and had recently become a member of the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce.

“She had this fondness for beaches and she was very precise in saying, if she ever passed away, for her ashes to be spread on different beaches around the world,” Warren said. “That’s where she wanted to be so that’s what we will be doing.”


Kurt von Tillow.

Kurt von Tillow, 55, Cameron Park, Calif.

Kurt von Tillow was described as a great husband and friend, but it will be his laugh that some people will miss most.

“I will always remember him for his big belly laughs and smiles and tremendous friendship,” Mark Baca said in a Facebook post. “Everyone was his friend. “

Attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas had become a tradition for the von Tillow family – this year Kurt attended with his wife, daughter, son-in-law, sister and niece. Only his son, who had recently moved to Ohio for a new job, was missing.

Von Tillow was known at his country club for his patriotism, often wearing a hat emblazoned with “U.S.A.” and an American flag-patterned shirt, and lavishly decorating his golf cart with flags on the Fourth of July. He loved golf, NASCAR, the Golden State Warriors and the San Francisco Giants, but more than anything he loved his family.


Bill Wolfe Jr. and his wife Robin were celebrating their 20th anniversary at the concert.

Bill Wolfe Jr., 42, Shippensburg, Pa.

Bill Wolfe Jr. was a father of two who happily gave up his free time to coach Little League baseball and youth wrestling, friends said.

Wolfe and his wife, Robyn, went together to the Route 91 Harvest festival. She was not injured, authorities said. But he was killed.

“He encouraged his kids to do their best,” said Wanda Neil Davenport, whose grandson wrestled with one of Wolfe’s sons. “The world has lost another good man, good father and husband. We all mourn with his family. He is in heaven and will watch down upon all of you.”

He is survived by his wife and two sons.


[Part II – Sacrifice: The forgotten victims of the Las Vegas massacre had lives:

Austin Meyer, Adrian Murfitt, Rachael Parker, Jennifer Parks, Carrie Parsons, Lisa Patterson, John Phippen, Melissa Ramirez, Jordyn Rivera, Quinton Robbins, Cameron Robinson, Tara Roe, Lisa Romero-Muniz, Christopher Roybal, Brett Schwanbeck, Bailey Schweitzer, Laura Shipp, Erick Silva, Susan Smith, Brennan Stewart, Derrick ‘Bo’ Taylor, Neysa Tonks, Michelle Vo, Kurt von Tillow, Bill Wolfe Jr.

[Part I – Sacrifice: The forgotten victims of the Las Vegas massacre had lives:

Hannah Ahlers, Heather Alvarado, Dorene Anderson, Carrie Barnette, Jack Beaton, Steve Berger, Candice Bowers, Denise Burditus, Sandy Casey, Andrea Castilla, Denise Cohen, Austin Davis, Thomas Day, Christiana Duarte, Stacee Etcheber, Brian Fraser, Keri Galvan, Dana Gardner, Angela Gomez, Charleston Hartfield, Chris Hazencomb, Jennifer Topaz Irvine, Teresa Nicol Kimura, Jessica Klymchuk, Carly Kreibaum, Rhonda LeRocque, Victor Link, Jordan McIldoon, Kelsey Meadows, Calla-Marie Medig, James ‘Sonny’ Melton, Pati Mestas. ]

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