LAS VEGAS (WASHINGTON POST/REUTERS) - A Las Vegas off-duty police officer, a nurse from Tennessee and a commercial fisherman from Alaska were among at least 59 people killed by a gunman who opened fire on a Las Vegas country music festival on Sunday (Oct 1) before killing himself.
Here's what we know so far about the victims:
In early April, on the last day of their 10-day vacation in New Zealand, 35-year-old Sandy Casey and her boyfriend Christopher Willemse walked down a steep hill to a lake. As she played by the water's edge, he took a ring out of his pocket. When she turned around, he was down on one knee.
They had planned to tour the final wedding venue on their list at the end of this month. 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 from a fatal gunshot to her lower back at a country music festival in Las Vegas.
Willemse, 32, worked as a behavioural 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 up in front of the stage, when the gunshots rang out. They all dropped to the ground, but Casey said she had been hit and could not feel her legs. Willemse stuck his finger in the hole to stop the bleeding, and then carried her out, dodging the continuous gunfire.
When she stopped responding, he told her 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."
On Facebook early Monday morning, 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!"
Lisa Romero, 57, of Gallup in New Mexico was a discipline secretary at Miyamura High School. Her cousin Paul Romero, 57, said he had not seen her 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 that the discipline secretary was dead."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."
In school on Monday, "everyone was crying," said Leslie's great-granddaughter.
Charleston Hartfield, 34, was the off-duty Las Vegas police officer among those killed, the
Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, citing people who knew the officer. "He was probably busy helping others," Hartfield's friend Troy Rhett told the newspaper. "I don't know a better man than Charles." The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which did not identify the fallen officer, reported the death on Twitter.
Sonny Melton, 29, of Big Sandy, Tennessee, saved his wife Heather Melton just before he was shot dead, she told WSMV-TV in Nashville. "He grabbed me and started running when I felt him get shot in the back," she told the NBC affiliate. Sonny Melton worked as a registered nurse, media reports said.
Adrian Murfitt, 35, was a commercial fisherman in Anchorage, Alaska, the Alaska Dispatch News reported, which said he was at the concert with his best friend Brian MacKinnon. The pair were taking a picture and a bullet went through Murfitt's neck, MacKinnon told the paper.
Denise Burditus, 50, of Martinsburg, West Virginia, attended the concert with her husband Tony, WVVA TV in West Virginia reported. She posted a photograph on Facebook just minutes before the gunman opened fire, the NBC affiliate said.
John Phippen of Santa Clarita, California, was a father of five, grandfather of one and owned a remodelling and repair company, KHTS AM 1220 radio station reported. He attended the concert with his son Travis, who was shot in the arm, the station said.
"If you didn't know John you surely missed out. He had a heart that was larger than life and a personality to match," a GoFundMe page said. "Even if you were someone he had never met before but were in need, he was there for you."
Chris Roybal, 28, of Southern California, was a Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan, ABC News said. Roybal was shot in the chest, ABC said.
Thomas Day JR
Thomas Day Jr., 54, of Riverside, California, a home builder, went to the festival with his four children, who are in their 20s and 30s, the Los Angeles Times reported. "He was the best dad. That's why the kids were with him," his father Thomas Day Sr. told the newspaper. "They're crushed."
Hannah Ahlers, a 35-year-old mother of three from Murrieta, California, was shot in the head and died, ABC News reported.
Angie Gomez was a 2015 alumna of Riverside Polytechnic High School PTSA in Riverside, California, the school said on Facebook. "She will always be loved and endeared by our Poly Family," the school said.
Dana Gardner was an employee for California's San Bernardino County for 26 years and most recently worked as a deputy recorder, the San Bernardino Sun reported.
Jennifer Topaz Irvine
Jennifer Topaz Irvine was a family law attorney based in San Diego, according to CBS News. A co-worker and friend identified Irvine as a victim to a CBS correspondent.
Jessica Klymchuk, 28, of Valleyview, Alberta, was a librarian and the single mother of four children, Canada's Globe and Mail reported. It said she was visiting Las Vegas with her fiance. "She's a very good mother. She's raised four beautiful children," Klymchuk's grandmother Margaret told the paper.
Rhonda LeRocque of Tewksbury, Massachusetts, was a wife and mother, devout Jehovah's Witness and worked for a Cambridge design firm, the Boston Globe reported. LeRocque attended the concert with her husband, Jason and their 7-year-old daughter, who were not injured, the newspaper said. "Rhonda would do everything to be the best mom and the best wife she could be,"LeRocque's sister, Jennifer Zelenski, told the paper.
Jordan McIldoon, 23, of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, was also killed, said the premier of British Columbia, John Horgan. McIldoon was a heavy-duty mechanic apprentice and about to start trade school, CBC News reported, which said he was attending the festival with his girlfriend. McIldoon died in the arms of a woman named Heather Gooze, CBC said.
Rachael Parker was a records technician with the Manhattan Beach Police Department in California, where she worked for 10 years, the police department said in a statement. Parker attended the concert with three other off-duty police department employees, police said.
She was a teacher with Westside Union School District in California, KABC-TV in Los Angeles said. "She touched many lives," a GoFundMe page set up for her said. "She leaves behind her husband, Bobby and young children, Bryce and Leah."
Quinton Robbins, 20, of Henderson, Nevada, studied at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and worked in local government, Newsweek reported. His aunt Kilee Wells Sanders confirmed his death in a Facebook post: "He was the most kind and loving soul. Everyone who met him loved him. His contagious laugh and smile. He was truly an amazing person. He will be missed by so many."
Bailey Schweitzer, 20, was from Bakersfield, California, her brother told the Bakersfield Californian newspaper.
Susan Smith, 53, was a school office manager in Simi Valley, California, the Ventura County Star reported, citing a school district representative. Smith was an ardent country music fan and worked at an elementary school for three years, the newspaper said.
Neysa Tonks, of Las Vegas, who worked at Technologent, an Irvine, California-based technology company, was also among the victims, the Los Angeles Times said. She was the mother of three boys, according to a GoFundMe campaign created by Technologent."Neysa brought joy, happiness, fun and laughter to so many of us. The senseless tragedy in Las Vegas Sunday has unnessarily (sic) taken her from our community," the GoFundMe page said.
Dorene Anderson, 49, a stay-at-home mother who lived in Anchorage, Alaska, attended the concert with her daughters, NBC affiliate KTUU in Anchorage said. Anderson was the treasurer for an Anchorage-based non-profit that supports local hockey teams, ABC News reported, citing Anderson’s friend Marie English. English told ABC that Anderson was “very friendly and genuine”and had a “kind heart.”
Carrie Barnette, 34, of Riverside, California, worked at Disney California Adventure Park as part of the culinary team, the Orange County Register reported. “A senseless, horrific, act, and a terrible loss for so many. We mourn a wonderful member of the Disney family: Carrie Barnette. Tragic,” Robert Iger, chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, said on Twitter.
Jack Beaton, of Bakersfield, California, died while saving his wife during the shooting, 23ABC News reported. Beaton worked as a grill master at a barbecue restaurant, a statement from the restaurant to the TV station said. Beaton’s son confirmed his death to the station.
Steve Berger, a native of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, who lived in Minnesota, had been celebrating his 44th birthday with a group of six friends in Las Vegas over the weekend, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Berger’s friends called his parents early Monday and said he was shot, and his family received confirmation on Tuesday, the newspaper said. “While trying to resuscitate him, (the group) was forced to evacuate,” Berger’s sister, Christine Moore, told the paper. Moore said her brother, a father of three who worked as a financial adviser, was fun- loving and hardworking, the paper said.