LAS VEGAS — One was a nurse who died protecting his wife. Another devoted her life to teaching children with special needs.
They were people from different walks of life who had gathered to enjoy a country music festival in the glimmering heart of the Las Vegas Strip.
A shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday night left at least 58 people dead and 527 injured, making it the deadliest shooting in modern American history.
Here are some of their stories.
Sonny Melton, 29, a registered nurse from Tennessee, was shot and killed, according to his place of employment, Henry County Medical Center in Paris, Tennessee.
His wife, Heather Melton, an orthopedic surgeon at Innovative Orthopedics, survived the mass shooting, the statement reads.
In an interview with WSMV, Heather Melton said her husband saved her life amid the gunfire.
“He saved my life. He grabbed me and started running when I felt him get shot in the back,” she said. “I want everyone to know what a kind-hearted, loving man he was, but at this point, I can barely breathe.”
Sonny Melton graduated from Union University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing accelerated and was president of his BSNA class, according to the university.
“You know how when you met someone and you just know that they’re good and kind? That was Sonny,” said Christy Davis, assistant professor of nursing at Union. “He just had a sweet, kind spirit about him.”
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam tweeted that he was praying for those affected by the shooting, including Melton’s family.
Rachael Parker, a 33-year-old records technician for the police department in Manhattan Beach, California, was shot and later died at the hospital, the Manhattan Beach Police Department said.
Parker had been employed with the police for 10 years, and “will be greatly missed,” the department said.
She was one of four Manhattan Beach police employees who were off-duty and attended the country music concert in Las Vegas where the shooting occurred.
Another police employee, a sworn officer, was shot and suffered minor injuries, the department said.
Angela “Angie” Gomez, who died in the shooting, was a “fun-loving, sweet young lady with a great sense of humor” who loved the stage, the Riverside Unified School District said in a statement.
Gomez attended Riverside Polytechnic High School in California and was a member of the class of 2015.
She acted on stage with the Riverside Children’s Theater, was involved in the middle and high school choir, and was a cheerleader for the high school, the school district said.
She challenged herself academically with honors and Advanced Placement courses, the school district said.
And she “was always seen with a smile on her face whenever she was on campus.”
“Angie was a loyal friend who loved her family and will be forever missed by all those who knew her,” the district said.
Her English teacher and cheer coach Lupe Avila said the school was “deeply saddened by the loss of a wonderful young woman who had her whole life ahead of her.”
Sandra Casey, a special education teacher at Manhattan Beach Middle School, was fatally wounded in the shooting, according to Mike Matthews, the Manhattan Beach Unified School District superintendent.
Casey had taught there for the past nine years and will be remembered for her sense of humor, passion for her work, devotion to her students, and her commitment to continuing her own learning and to taking on whatever new projects came her way, Matthews said.
“Our students, employees, and parents are devastated by Sandy Casey’s death. We lost a spectacular teacher who devoted her life to helping some of our most needy students,” Matthews said.
Several other members of the Manhattan Beach Unified School district attended the music festival as well but were unharmed, the school district said.
Jenny Parks, a kindergarten teacher for the Lancaster School District in California, was killed in the shooting, according to Steven McCarthy, her husband’s uncle.
“She was truly one of the most loving people you could ever hope to meet,” McCarthy said. “She always went out of her way to help anybody.”
He said that he never saw her upset, and never saw her sad.
Her husband, Bobby Parks, is in surgery after the bullet injured his arm and finger, McCarthy said. He said Bobby Parks is responsive and aware that his wife passed away.
Jenny Parks has two brothers who lived in Las Vegas, and the couple was visiting them.
Neysa Tonks, a Las Vegas resident and mother of three, lost her life in the shooting, her employer Technologent confirmed.
Tonks leaves behind three sons — Kaden, Braxton and Greysen.
“Neysa has brought so much joy, fun and laughter to Technologent — she will be greatly missed by all,” the company said.
Technologent has established a GoFundMe page on behalf of Neysa’s family. The effort has already raised more than $60,000.
Susan Smith, a 53-year-old mother who was the office manager for Vista Elementary School in California, was killed in the shooting, according to Jake Finch, the Simi Valley Unified School District’s media relations coordinator.
Smith, who had been with the school district for 16 years, was a “big country music fan” and had gone to Las Vegas with a couple of friends for the music festival, Finch said.
She was “always so welcoming,” Finch said, and served as the “right hand to the principal.”
Smith was married with two young-adult children, Finch said. Her own kids were once a part of the school district and she was very active as a parent, Finch said.
“Everybody knew her,” he added. “She touched a lot of lives.”
The PTA at Vista Fundamental Elementary School posted condolences for Smith on Facebook, saying “she was a wonderful woman, an advocate for our children, and a friend.”
Bailey Schweitzer was with her mother watching some of their favorite bands at the Route 91 concert in Las Vegas when the 20-year-old was shot and killed, according to KBAK.
Schweitzer graduated from Centennial High School, where she was a cheerleader and played volleyball.
She was also a member of the Valley Bible Fellowship Church and helped run her family’s business, Bakersfield Speedway.
Matt Woessner, a family friend, watched Bailey grow up and said she “had a heart for people.”
He told KBAK “the whole community has lost a great person in Bailey Schweitzer and she’s going to be truly missed everywhere.”
Jennifer T. Irvine
San Diego-based attorney Jennifer T. Irvine, who was on vacation in Las Vegas to attend the concert, was one of the victims of the shooting, her publicist Jay Jones said.
Irvine practiced criminal and family law and owned her own boutique firm. Her website describes her as a “tenacious litigator” who is passionate about assisting clients during difficult times.
The website also notes other unique interests out of the courtroom.
She earned a black-belt in taekwondo, enjoyed practicing hot yoga, was an avid snowboarder, and aspired to learn indoor rock climbing and to experience sky-diving, the site says.
“Remembering a dear friend & colleague whose life was cut short by an unspeakable tragedy,” Jones said in a statement. “Our sincerest thoughts to those affected during this difficult time. May our unity & strength shine over the darkness.”
Lisa Romero-Muniz, a secretary for Gallup-McKinley County Schools in western New Mexico, was killed in the shooting, school district superintendent Mike Hyatt said.
She had worked for the school district since 2003 at three schools and specifically worked as a discipline secretary, acting as an advocate for students during times of discipline.
“As many students have mentioned in some Facebook posts and to many of us, she was there for them and she respected them and tried to work with them as much as she could,” Hyatt said.
He said Romero-Muniz was outgoing, kind, and considerate of all those she worked with.
“We cannot express enough the loss that our organization feels at this time, and the heartache we feel for Lisa’s husband, children, grandchildren and family,” Hyatt said.
Rhonda LeRocque of Tewksbury, Massachusetts, was one of the victims in the shooting, her family said.
Her mother, Priscilla Champagne, said LeRocque was a “beautiful woman inside and out.”
“A truly great mother, daughter, wife, aunt, sister, worker, and a good, kindhearted friend. She had a great faith in Jehovah God, and had a wonderful family life. She loved Hawaii, Disney, and country music.” she said.
“She was the best of the best. She was the hostess with the mostess … the glue who kept our family gatherings together. She will be greatly missed by us all.”
Her sister, Korina Champagne, said in a Facebook post on Monday that her heart was broken.
“My Beautiful Sister Rhonda LeRocque lost her life in the Las Vegas mass shooting,” Korina Champagne posted. “My heart is broken, I’m numb, I feel paralyzed. This doesn’t seem real. All I can do is turn to God’s Word for comfort, just as she would want me to. May shec rest now until her name is called and she is awakened in paradise.”
She added a Bible passage to the end of her Facebook post.
“Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.”
Disney employee Carrie Barnette was one of the victims of the shooting, the company’s chairman and CEO Robert Iger said.
“A senseless, horrific, act, and a terrible loss for so many. We mourn a wonderful member of the Disney family: Carrie Barnette. Tragic,” Iger tweeted.
In a statement, the company said Barnette had worked for Disney for 10 years “and was beloved by her friends and colleagues.”
“Another valued Disney cast member, Jessica Milam, was also seriously injured and we are praying for her recovery,” the statement said.
Jordyn Rivera was in her fourth year at California State University, San Bernardino. The university released a statement confirming her death.
“It is with the utmost sadness I must report that a member of our campus community is among the victims,” university president Tomas Morales said.
Rivera was warm, optimistic and kind, he said.
Katie Ortega, who has known her for years, said they played softball together as kids.
Rivera “was and always will be a role model to many,” Ortega said. “She would always make it a point to make every single individual feel special, always laughing at my stupid jokes.”
She was passionate about softball.
“That softball diamond was her heaven,” Ortega said.
Heather Warino Alvarado
Heather Warino Alvarado, of Utah, loved traveling with her husband and children.
Alvarado, 35, was a mother of three and married to Albert Alvarado, a firefighter in Cedar City, Utah. The couple loved traveling with their three children.
“She always saw the good in others. She spent her whole life serving others in her family and community,” the Cedar City Fire Department said in a Facebook post.
“She was happiest when she was together with her family, especially her children and she would do anything for them. They appreciate your many words of kindness and concern.”
Candice Bowers was a single mother of three. Her family described her as a superhero who loved country music.
“It was a gift that she was able to spend her final moments doing what she loved with those she loved even more,” her family said.
“Her strength, fierce loyalty and memory will live on through their lives and those of her family and friends who loved her so dearly.”
Her children included a recently adopted 2-year-old, her family said in a statement.
Adrian Murfitt, 35, was a commercial fisherman from Alaska.
Murfitt had surprised his friend with a weekend boys trip to Las Vegas when the shooting happened.
His friend, Brian MacKinnon,held him in his lap as he passed away from gunshot wounds.
His mother, Avonna Murfitt, said her son was jolly and caring.
ʺEvery one of his friends was his ‘best friend,’ʺ she said. ʺHe will be missed by all who knew him, and most of all by me.ʺ
The outpouring of love has been amazing, her mother said.
“We are humbled by the way everyone who knew him has offered assistance to help in bringing him home and celebrating his life,” Avonna Murfitt says.
Derrick “Bo” Taylor
Derrick “Bo” Taylor, 56, a veteran with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, was killed in the shooting. Taylor joined the department about 30 years ago, rising to the rank of lieutenant.
He worked at the Ventura Conservation Camp, which houses up to 110 adult male inmates.
Taylor’s loss will be felt deeply, Warden Joel Martinez wrote in a memo to staff, according to a department newsletter posted online.
“There are no words to express the feeling of loss and sadness regarding Bo’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends,” Martinez wrote.
In the comments section of the notice about Taylor’s death, people praised him as a good coworker and friend.
“Bo was a great man, as a supervisor he set the bar so high that no one will ever be able to touch it,” one comment read.
Kelsey Meadows, a 28-year-old California substitute teacher, died in the mass shooting, according to her family and the Taft Union High School District, where she worked.
Meadows graduated from Taft Union High School in 2007 and later earned a bachelor’s degree from Fresno State University.
She returned to the Taft community, where she had worked as a regular substitute teacher with the district since 2012, the district said in a statement.
Taft Union High School principal Mary Alice Finn said Meadows was “smart, compassionate and kind.”
“She had a sweet spirit and a love for children,” Finn said. “Words cannot adequately capture the sorrow felt by her students, colleagues and friends in learning of her passing.”
Meadows’ family posted a Facebook message asking people to please “keep my family in your thoughts and prayers as we try and move past this horrible time.”
John Phippen, a 56-year-old father of six, was fatally shot while shielding a woman from the gunfire, Phippen’s neighbor said.
Phippen was hit after his son stopped to help someone else, said Leah Nagyivanyi, Phippen’s neighbor and close friend for 17 years. His son was wounded in the arm, she said.
Phippen lost his wife three years ago, Nagyivanyi said. Her family went on camping trips with Phippen and his clan. He was the kind of person who got along with both children and adults, she said.
“Our kids look up to us, and look to us for guidance, but these kids considered John their best friend,” Nagyivani said. “That tells a lot about the kind of person you are. He was everybody’s best friend.”
One time, when a boat flipped over during a camping trip, Phippen and his son sprang into action just like they did at the concert, she said.
“He was a man of integrity who always had your back,” she said. “There is nothing he couldn’t do for you, wouldn’t do for you. You didn’t even have to ask.”
Kurt von Tillow
Kurt von Tillow of Cameron Park, California, and his wife Mary Jo were best friends who did everything together. They golfed together and recently brought their two grandchildren to Disneyland.
Together, they attended the country musical festival with their daughter and two more relatives.
Von Tillow’s wife and daughter escaped unharmed. But the 55-year-old truck driver died of his injuries, a relative said. Von Tillow’s sister and niece were hospitalized Monday and are expected to survive, Janet Carson-Tenney said.
“He lived a perfect life. He was loved by everybody, he didn’t have an enemy, he didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He was the life of the party,” Carson-Tenney said.
She’ll remember his laugh and how much he loved his family.
Jack Beaton of Bakersfield, California, was attending the concert with his wife Laurie and their friends.
Three hours before the shooting, he posted a blurry photo on Facebook of the gang lounging on the lawn, koozie-covered beers in hand.
The day after the shooting, Beaton’s son shared a picture on Twitter of his father and asked for prayers.
“He jumped in front of my mom and got shot,” he wrote. “I love you dad.”
Later, he posted on Facebook: “Lost my best friend. I love you so much more (than) you could ever imagine.”
Melissa Ramirez, a California State University, Bakersfield graduate, was killed during the Las Vegas shooting, according to the school.
Ramirez graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Flags at the school were lowered on Monday in honor of Ramirez and the other victims and will remain so through sunset on Friday, the school said in a statement.
“We are terribly saddened to learn that we lost a member of our CSUB family in this senseless act of violence. Our entire CSUB campus community is heartbroken, and we send our deepest sympathies to Melissa Ramirez’s family and friends,” the school said.
Jordan McIldoon, a 25-year-old from Maple Ridge, British Columbia, died holding the hand of a stranger at the concert.
Heather Gooze said she somehow ended up next to McIldoon, and, even though she didn’t know him, she held his hand during his final minutes. She felt a squeeze from his fingers, then felt his hand go loose.
Gooze knew there was nothing more to do, she said, yet she stayed with McIldoon for hours.
When his phone rang, she answered it and learned his name — and said everything was not OK, she recalled.
Then, Gooze relayed the news of his death by phone to his long-term girlfriend and his mother, she said, all the while staying by his side.
“I didn’t want Jordan to not have somebody with him,” she said through tears. “I didn’t want him to just be a no-named body. I knew who he was, and now I had an obligation to make sure that everyone knew who he was.”
McIldoon’s mother told Gooze he was a good, nice and fun person.
“He loved his girlfriend and had great family and great friends,” Gooze said.
Christopher Roybal, a 28-year-old general manager at a Crunch gym in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was known for his “big teddy bear smile and infectious laughter,” according to David Harman, managing partner at Crunch.
“More than a team member, we lost someone who was a son, mentor, friend and hero, as a Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan,” Harman said.
Ryan Chiaverini, Roybal’s former brother-in-law, said Roybal, who was living in Denver, was attending the concert with his mother to celebrate his 29th birthday. He had a really good sense of humor and had a “fun, sweet, innocent way about him,” Chiaverini said.
In a Facebook post from July, Roybal poignantly reflected on what it’s like being shot at from his time overseas.
“My response has always been the same, not one filled with a sense of pride or ego, but an answer filled with truth and genuine fear/anger,” he wrote.
He said his first fight was something he’d never forget. He felt sensory overload and extreme adrenaline, making him “excited, angry and manic.” But as the fights continued, the excitement faded, leaving just the anger, he wrote.
“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. “Cheers boys.”
He died of wounds suffered in the concert shooting.
Brian Ahlers said his wife of 17 years was “shot in the head while dancing” with him at the music festival.
Hannah Ahlers, 34, was a stay-at-home mom of three who had lived in Beaumont, California, for the last five years, but was originally from Redlands.
“She was a full-time house wife and mommy and she was amazing at it,” he said. “Very active in moms groups and our daughter’s volleyball team. She wasn’t too good for anybody. Beautiful inside and out.”
Ryan Chiaverini, who was friends with Ahlers, said “she couldn’t hurt a fly.”
“She was one of the kindest people I’ve met,” he said.
The San Francisco Police Officers Association confirmed Stacee Etcheber was killed in the attack.
Etcheber attended the concert with her husband, Vinnie Etcheber, a San Francisco police officer who was off duty.
When the shooting began, Vinnie Etcheber told his wife to run as he began to render aid to those wounded, the SFPOA said in a statement.
“With heavy hearts, we’ve learned that Stacee Etcheber has passed away. Stacee was a wonderful, caring wife, mother, and daughter. She will be terribly missed,” SFPOA president Martin Halloran said in a statement.
“Our deepest condolences go out to the entire Etcheber family and our thoughts and prayers are with all those who lost a loved one during this tragic attack.”
Denise Salmon Burditus
Denise Salmon Burditus, 50, and her husband Tony had traveled to Las Vegas and were enjoying a weekend away from their West Virginia home.
The couple, who had been married for 32 years, posted to their social media accounts several silly pictures of themselves lounging by the pool and having dinner with friends.
Half an hour before the shooting began, Denise Salmon Burditus posted a picture of herself and her husband standing in front of the Route 91 Harvest stage.
But the trip ended in tragedy, and Tony Burditus confirmed his wife’s death on Facebook.
“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,” he wrote. “Denise passed in my arms. I LOVE YOU BABE.”
Denise described herself on Facebook as semiretired, and she was the former president of the Association of the United States Army subchapter in Lacey, Washington, according to NorthwestMilitary.com.
Charleston Hartfield was many things: A Las Vegas police officer, an accomplished Nevada Army National Guard sergeant first class and a youth football coach.
But beyond those titles, he “epitomizes everything good about America,” said Brig. Gen. Zachary Doser, commander of the Nevada National Guard.
Hartfield was off-duty and attending the concert when he was shot and killed, the Guard said in a statement.
Though just 34, Hartfield wrote a memoir titled “Memoirs of a Public Servant,” which documented the “thoughts, feelings, and interactions of one Police Officer in the busiest and brightest city in the world, Las Vegas.”
“Charleston Hartfield lived to serve the public and protect his family,” Brig. Gen. William Burks, the adjutant general of the Nevada National Guard, said. “He is the epitome of a citizen-soldier.”
Hartfield — or “Coach Chucky,” as some called him — was also a coach for the Henderson Cowboys youth football program, the group said on Facebook.
“Coach Hartfield touched many lives both on and off the field. He was a great man who we all lost way (too) early,” the program said.
Stan King, the father of one of the players on the team, said he was “an absolute all-American kind of guy.”
“He is one of the nicest guys I know and helped countless youth become winners through NYS football here in Henderson, Nevada,” King said. “This kind of guy comes around once in a blue moon. He was a very special guy to the community.”
Quinton Robbins, from Henderson, Nevada, “was the most kind and loving soul,” his aunt, Kilee Wells Sanders, said on Facebook.
Robbins’ uncle, Mike Wells, confirmed that Robbins died and said his family was in disbelief.
Quinton Robbins coached his younger brother’s flag football team, and the two siblings had just attended a Dodgers game together.
“Everyone who met him, loved him,” Sanders wrote. “His contagious laugh and smile. He was truly an amazing person. He will be missed by so many, he is loved by so many. So many awesome talents. I can’t say enough good about this sweet soul.”
Erick Silva, 21, was among the victims of Sunday’s shootings, his stepsister Daisy Hernandez said.
His family held a vigil for him Tuesday in Las Vegas, where he lived. She said that he had recently started working in security because he loved helping people.
“All I can tell you is that he was a great son, brother, uncle who was loved by so many people,” Hernandez said. “He had just turned 21 this August and I’m pretty sure he died trying to protect people at that concert.”
Jessica Klymchuk, a resident of Valleyview, Alberta, was also among the victims of the shooting.
A single mother of four, she was an educational assistant, librarian and bus driver for St. Stephen’s School in Valleyview, Holy Family Catholic Regional Division Superintendent Betty Turpin said in a statement.
“The scope of this tragedy is worldwide and we are feeling its impact here at home,” the statement said.
Calla Medig, a resident of Jasper, Alberta, was one of the people who died, her employer confirmed.
Medig was “super mature, light heartened, grounded, down to earth,” said Scott Collingwood, general manager at Moxie’s restaurant in West Edmonton, where Calla worked as a waitress since September 2015.
This was her third year attending the festival, Collingwood said.
“She left a big hole in our hearts here,” he said.
Tara Roe was an educational assistant with Foothills School Division in Alberta, superintendent of schools John Bailey said in a statement identifying her among the dead.
She also was a model for Sophia Models International, the agency said in a Facebook post.
“She was always a friendly face and had a very caring spirit. We are saddened, shocked and pray for everyone affected by this tragedy.”
Michelle Vo, a New York Life Insurance employee in its Greater Pasadena office, was among the victims of the shooting, a New York Life spokesman said.
“Like all Americans, we are shocked and saddened at the terrible tragedy that has unfolded in Las Vegas. Our grief is deepened by knowing that a member of the New York Life family, Michelle Vo, an agent in our Greater Pasadena office, was among those killed. During this terrible time, our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and loved ones,” the spokesman said.