The lives lost in Las Vegas
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 stories of those who died.
DENISE BURDITUS, 50
From Martinsburg, W.Va.
Burditus recently changed her Facebook profile picture to a photo of her and her husband, Tony Burditus, both smiling, with the Route 91 Harvest festival stage and Mandalay Bay hotel in the background.
The photo was posted hours before a gunman fired into the crowd and she later died in her husband's arms, Tony Burditus wrote on Facebook. The West Virginia resident was a mother of two, grandmother of four and had been married to her husband for 32 years. Denise Burditus described herself as a college student and as semi-retired on her Facebook page.
Flag flying at half-staff in Martinsburg today in memory of Denise Burditus, resident killed in Las Vegas. Her family is asking for prayers. pic.twitter.com/QWTCTKHSPO— Tom Roussey (@tomrousseyABC7) October 3, 2017
"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 Burditus 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.
Denise Burditus posted a photo of her husband in the pool during the trip with the caption: "Having the best time in Vegas with this guy...?? him!"
On Sunday, Denise Burditus had posted that she was "already planning" for the 2018 festival.
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!"
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."
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."
Charleston Hartfield, 34, was an off-duty Las Vegas police officer, youth football coach, and military veteran.Our deepest condolences to his family and friends. R.I.P pic.twitter.com/7Jstw8E4EI— Military Support (@MilitaryEarth) October 3, 2017
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.
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 tae kwon do, 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."
by Rachel Weiner
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.
RHONDA LEROCQUE, 42
from Tewksbury, Mass.
LeRocque and her husband, Jason, had attended Vegas's 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 Jason 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."
From Big Sandy, Tenn.
Sonny Melton, a registered nurse, died in the shooting, according to The Henry County Medical Center in Paris, Tenn., where he worked.
His wife, Dr. Heather Melton, an orthopedic surgeon who was with him when shots were fired, survived, the medical center said.
Sonny Melton from Tennessee, has been identified as one of the victims killed reportedly died shielding his wife from the gunfire. Prayers pic.twitter.com/I94NsrTqDr— Dylan (@DylansFreshTake) October 2, 2017
Heather Melton told WZTV in Nashville that her husband "saved my life and lost his." She says her husband was the most kind-hearted, loving man she ever met.
Friend Jeremy Butler told the Paris (Tennessee) Post-Intelligencer that Melton was shielding Heather Melton from gunfire when he was fatally shot.
ADRIAN MURFITT, 35
From Anchorage, Alaska
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.
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.
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 are friends 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."
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.
Here is the link to donate to Quinton's family. If you can, please do. Anything helps in times like this. https://t.co/UzcLQCsPW6— Kelsey Gunther (@kelsey_gunther) October 2, 2017
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.
LISA ROMERO-MUNIZ, 42
From Gallup, N.M.
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." Romero-Muniz was a discipline secretary at Miyamura High School, relatives confirmed
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 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."
At school Monday, her great-granddaughter told her, "everyone was crying."
BAILEY SCHWEITZER, 20
from Bakersfield, Calif.
Schweitzer was a receptionist at Infinity Communications and Consulting in Bakersfield. 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 coworker Katelynn Cleveland said, and loved attending country music concerts. Schweitzer had seen Jon 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 p.m. 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 coworkers held a candlelight vigil in her honor at their offices.
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.
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 was 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.