‘He saved my life and lost his’: Las Vegas shooting brings tragedy to US and Canadian families
Details emerge about some of the 59 killed and hundreds more injured in the worst mass shooting attack in US history
A registered nurse from Tennessee who died shielding his wife, a doctor, from gunfire. The only son of a Canadian couple who is now left childless. A popular secretary at a New Mexico High School.
All were among the at least 59 people killed in the mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas.
Details began to emerge Monday about some of those slain and the hundreds more who were injured after a gunman opened fire on festivalgoers.
Shortly after the shooting started at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, a friend of Sonny Melton posted a note on his Facebook page.
“Hoping y’all are ok man!!!”
It wasn’t long before Melton’s page took a painful turn. What started as concern over his safety quickly turned into a stream of prayers, well wishes, and disbelief that the registered nurse from Tennessee was among the more than 50 victims in Sunday’s mass shooting.
Melton attended the music festival with his wife, Heather Gulish Melton, who confirmed he was one of the victims, but said she was not yet ready to share his story.
“He saved my life and lost his,” she said. “I want everyone to know what a kind hearted loving man he was but at this point I can barely breathe.”
Dozens of families are going through their own version of agony as Las Vegas officials process the massive crime scene and notify next of kin. Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said Monday that at least 58 people were dead and another 515 injured.
“It’s a long, laborious process to identify the victims and reunite them with family members to advise them of their situation,” Lombardo said.
Canadian mechanic’s apprentice Jordan McIldoon, 23, of British Columbia was also among those slain, according to CBC News.
“We only had one child,” Al and Angela McIldoon, told the CBC. “We just don’t know what to do.”
Among the injured were two off-duty personnel from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the agency confirmed. Both were transported to a local hospital after being hit by gunfire.
Another Canadian victim was identified as Jessica Klymchuk, a 28-year-old mother of four from the province of Alberta.
A four-year veteran of the Ontario, California police department was shot in the head during Sunday’s shooting, Ontario Police Sergeant Jeff Higbee said.
Officer Michael Gracia was injured, as was his girlfriend.
“He’s always real personable, upbeat, a real friendly guy,” Higbee said.
Susan Smith, 53, a resident of Simi Valley, California, near Los Angeles, had worked for the local school district since 2001 as the office manager at Vista Elementary School.
“Susan was wonderful with the kids and the staff and was an integral part of the school community here,” said Jake Finch, the public information officer for the district. “She was the hub of everything that happened at the school. If a kid is sick, she’s the one calling the parents and no matter how chaotic things got here, she was always smiling.”
Finch said the school district learned about Smith’s death from friends who had been with her at the music festival. She said when teachers and other staff members in the district and at the school arrived early Monday morning, most of them had not yet heard that Smith was among those who were killed.
Real property agent and father of three older children Rob McIntosh, 52, of North Pole, Alaska, was near the front of the stage with friends when the shooting began, according to friend and real estate broker Mike Vansickle. He was hit repeatedly but survived, Vansickle said.
“From just getting off the phone with the family he took three bullets to his body,” said Vansickle. “He just came out of surgery, and he’s going to make it.”
One remains in critical condition and the other is in stable condition, the department said in a statement. No names or details on their positions at the department were being released at this time.