Heroic Spouses, Beloved Teachers, Devoted Parents: Remembering the Victims of the Las Vegas Massacre
Authorities said at least 58 people were killed and 489 were injured in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history
They came to the Las Vegas strip expecting a fun night to cap off a fun weekend: The Route 91 Harvest, an outdoor country music festival, was at the end of its third day and Jason Aldean was performing the closing set — and then bullets began slicing through the air.
Vegas police said 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, of Mesquite, Nevada, opened fire just after 10 p.m. on Oct. 1 on the concert crowd of some 22,000 from his 32nd-floor hotel suite at the nearby Mandalay Bay casino.
According to authorities, 58 people were killed and 489 more were injured.
• For more on the loved ones lost in the Las Vegas massacre, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.
When responding officers entered Paddock’s hotel room before midnight, they found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. There is no known connection between the shooting and international terrorism, according to the FBI.
Here are names, photos and tributes to those killed in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
A high school secretary in Gallup, New Mexico, Romero-Muniz was a happy-go-lucky person.
“Her smile is what I’ll miss most,” her husband, Chris Muniz, tells PEOPLE. “There just wasn’t a bad bone in her body. She’d give you her last dime.”
Romero-Muniz, 48, was beloved at Miyamura High School, Louise Leslie, whose 14-year-old great-granddaughter attended the school, told the Washington Post.
“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,” Leslie said, adding that on Monday at school “everyone was crying.”
James “Sonny” Melton
James “Sonny” Melton, a 29-year-old registered nurse from Big Sandy, Tennessee, reportedly saved his wife’s life before he was killed.
“He grabbed me and started running when I felt him get shot in the back,” his wife, Dr. Heather Gulish Melton, told local radio station WYCB. “I want everyone to know what a kind-hearted, loving man he was, but at this point, I can barely breathe.”
Heather and Sonny worked together at Henry County Medical Center in Paris, Tennessee.
“He would have done the same for anybody,” she tells PEOPLE. “He was compassionate, caring and selfless.”
McIldoon, a resident of British Columbia, Canada, died in the arms of a festival worker.
Heather Gooze, a bartender at the festival, was holding McIldoon’s hand when his mother called. She picked up the phone and learned his name, and also learned that his girlfriend, Amber, was at the festival.
Gooze got in touch with Amber, who was heartbroken to hear that McIldoon, 23, didn’t make it.
“No, that can’t be true,” Amber said. “He’s the love of my life.”
Hartfield was a 34-year-old off-duty police officer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and a military veteran — as well as a dedicated youth football coach.
“He was a great guy,” friend Moe Tuinei-Fiaseu tells PEOPLE. “He was a great father, coach, friend and really loved his Henderson Cowboys boys,” adding he was “like a father” to his players.
In July, Hartfield published a memoir titled Memoirs of A Public Service, about his personal interactions being a police officer in Las Vegas.
Troy Rhett, a close friend of Hartfield’s, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he sent him a text message late Sunday night, “hoping he would text me back.”
“I figured he was probably busy helping others,” said Rhett. “I don’t know a better man than Charles. They say it’s always the good ones we lose early. There’s no truer statement than that with Charles.”
Rachael Kathleen Parker
Parker, a civilian employee of the Manhattan Beach Police Department in California, attended the concert with some of her colleagues.
The 33-year-old was shot and taken to a local hospital, where she died from her injuries. One other member of her group was shot but survived, department spokesperson Officer Kristie Colombo tells PEOPLE.
Parker, a Police Records Technician, was with the department for 10 years.
“We’re just in shock,” Colombo says. “We all just feel like we’re in a daze, it’s heartbreaking and surreal that this happened. So many people in so many places across the U.S either know somebody that was there and witnessed this or was injured or lost their life. It’s tragic.”
Parks, a 36-year-old mother of two, attended the concert with her husband, Bobby.
Bobby was shot in the arm and survived, but his wife was killed.
“They were high school sweethearts,” says Bobby’s uncle, Dr. Steven McCarthy. “When we met Jenny we all fell in love with her. She had a wonderful sense of humor and was so kind.
Parks, who just got her masters in education in May, was teaching elementary school in Lancaster, California, where she lived with her husband and two children. Their oldest, Bryce, had just started high school and Lea was in elementary school.
Says McCarthy, “They were the perfect family.”
John Joseph Phippen
Leah Nagyivanyi tells PEOPLE that Phippen, her longtime friend, was killed Sunday night while dancing alongside his son, Travis, who is an EMT.
Travis, who was also shot but is expected to recover, tried to revive his 56-year-old dad, but couldn’t.
“John was a great example of what a good man and a good person is,” Nagyivanyi says. “He was the last person who should have left this Earth. He was the kind of guy who always had your back and always made sure you had a beer in your hand.”
Phippen leaves six children behind. “Now, he will be everyone’s angel,” Nagyivanyi says.
Adrian Allan Murfitt
Murfitt, 35, a commercial fisherman born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, loved country music.
“He was a big country music fan and he would always walk around singing country songs and he had a beautiful voice,” his sister, Shannon Gothard tells PEOPLE. “He decided to treat himself for a good [fishing] season with a trip to Las Vegas and the concert.”
A few weeks before the festival, Murfitt bought tickets for him and a friend, Brian MacKinnon.
“His friends and family always came first. I mean, if he had 20 bucks, 10 of it was yours. He’s always like that. He goes so far out of his way to make other people happy,” MacKinnon tells PEOPLE.
According to MacKinnon, Murfitt was shot in the neck and died in his arms. His family says they are still in shock but are thankful their loved one was with a friend.
“I’m going to miss him every day, every minute,” Gothard says. “I’m just glad he was there and had somebody there who loved him.”
Smith was well known and well loved in her community.
The 53-year-old had worked for the Simi Valley Unified School District for 16 years and was a member of the PTA while her two children were in school, according to school officials.
The last three years, Smith was office manager of Visty Elementary School, where she was “the center of the school,” Jake Finch, district spokeswoman tells PEOPLE.
“She was the one kids would go to when they’re sick, she’s helping to make sure all supplies are in place, all the schedules are set…there are so many parts to her job,” Finch says.
Her colleagues learned of her death early this morning, Finch says. Counselors were on hand to speak with both teachers and students, who made cards for her family and left flowers at her desk.
“It was a very somber day,” Finch says. “No hugs were off limits today.”
When she wasn’t teaching at Manhattan Beach Middle School, Casey, 34, could be found out with friends, traveling with her fiancé or playing on her local women’s soccer team.
“She was so positive,” teammate Jenny Williamson-Pagan tells PEOPLE. “She was in such a good place in her life.”
Casey was a special education teacher at the California middle school for nine years and hailed from Vermont, Williamson-Pagan says.
She lived with her fiancé in Redondo Beach and loved being outside whether it be hiking or going to the beach. The couple traveled often, most recently to Scotland, Williams-Pagan says.
“[Casey] is loved by students and colleagues alike and will be remembered for her sense of humor, her passion for her work, her devotion to her students, and her commitment to continuing her own learning and to taking on whatever new projects came her way,” Manhattan Beach Unified School District Superintendent Michael Matthews said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
Carrie Rae Barnette
Barnette, 34, was a devoted aunt to five nieces and nephews who recently purchased a home in Riverside, California, to be closer to family.
“Beloved by her friends and colleagues,” Barnette worked at Flo’s V-8 Cafe in Cars Land at Disneyland’s California Adventure in Anaheim, California, according to Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger who sent a company-wide email informing cast members of Barnette’s death.
She “loved her job” as a cook at Disneyland, brother-in-law Joey Castillo tells PEOPLE.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with Barnette’s funeral expenses.
“A loving sister daughter aunt and friend was taken away far too early during the Las Vegas massacre a family is never prepared for a tragedy like this,” the account description states.
Barnette’s cousin, Janice Chambers, spoke with The Arizona Republic, describing her as the “life of the party.”
“We are in shock and devastated. She was a beautiful soul,” Chambers said. “She lived her life to the fullest, adored her family niece and new nephew. She was a beauty inside and out, loved life and making others smile. She was very adventurous, loved to travel. Heaven gained a beautiful angel.”
Hannah Lassette Ahlers
Ahlers, 35, was a mother of three from Beaumont, Calif.
“She was a sweet soul who could light up a room the moment she walked in,” her family said in a statement.
Father-in-law Dave Ahlers told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Ahlers came to the festival with her husband Brian and three other couples, Dave said. She and Brian had three children, ages 3, 11 and 14.
Dave described Hannah as a “loving, caring and devoted mother,” and said she’d always make time to help family and friends in difficult times, describing her as a “young Mary Tyler Moore.”
Her friend, Sunni Almond, told the Los Angeles Times that she “was possibly one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, with a heart to match.”
Neysa C. Tonks
Tonks was a 46-year-old single mom to three boys who worked for a technology company in Irvine, California.
Her former church counselor Tracy Downey described her to the Las Vegas Review-Journal as “a very nice woman who was full of life and energy.”
Her mother Debbie Davis tells PEOPLE that she was a devoted and loving mother.
“She would always say ‘Everything that I do is for them,'” says Davis. “She was beautiful.”
Thomas Day Jr.
Day was a music- and baseball-loving, 44-year-old general contractor from Corona, California, who attended Sunday’s concert in Las Vegas with his friend, Austin Davis. Both died from fatal gunshot wounds.
According to Day’s four children, “you could always find him at a baseball field, whether he was coaching his children, playing, or watching his children or grandson play. Our father played his whole life and was an absolute stud on the field — but then again, he was a stud at everything he did, such as basketball, golf, darts, etc.”
He also knew a joke or two and was always “the life of the party with a Coors Light in his hand and a Copenhagen smile on his lips.”
A 34-year-old mother of four from northern Alberta, Canada, Klymchuk worked as an educational assistant, librarian and bus driver at a local Catholic school her kids attended.
Klymchuk loved her job, and “her door was always open,” her sister, Jennifer Grenier, tells PEOPLE.
“She leaves to mourn four children who all attend St. Stephen’s and her new husband,” Betty Turpin, superintendent of the Holy Family Catholic Regional Division, said in a message to trustees, per the CBC. “She has been an employee of HFCRD for four years. Please keep the staff and students of St. Stephen’s and her family in your prayers.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that Klymchuk was in Las Vegas with her new husband, Brent Irla, when gunfire broke out. A family friend told the outlet that Irla was by her side when she died Monday morning.
Rev. Abraham Joseph of St. Rita’s Catholic Church told the CBC that Klymchuk “was loved by the kids” and described her as a “lovely person” who was popular at the school.
“All the teachers were crying” in the staff room when they were told what happened, Joseph said.
Joseph also told the CBC students gathered in the school gym Monday and were informed of the tragedy.
“It was really a shock to the kids,” he said.
Denise and Tony Burditus were high school sweethearts in Berkeley County, West Virginia. The couple of 32 years married and started a family while Tony had a career in the Army.
Denise, a 50-year-old mom of two, was a retired bank executive who seemed to dote on her four grandchildren in her social media photos.
“We got married at a very young age, and every day it just got better,” Tony tells PEOPLE.
After her death, Tony’s shared his grief on Facebook.
“It saddens me to say that I lost my wife of 32 years, a mother of two, soon to be grandmother of five this evening in the Las Vegas shooting,” Tony Burditus wrote. “Denise passed in my arms. I LOVE YOU BABE.”
Angela C. Gomez
Gomez, a 20-year-old nursing student, graduated from California’s Riverside Poly High School in 2015, where she was remembered as a “fun-loving young lady with a great sense of humor,” the school district wrote on its Facebook page while confirming her death.
“Angie was a hard-worker who always challenged herself academically, and after graduation she went on to attend classes at Riverside Community College. Angie was a loyal friend who loved her family and will be forever missed by all who knew her,” the district also wrote in its post.
A friend started a GoFundMe page and said Gomez was part of the Poly Cheer Squad.
“She was a cheerful young lady with a warm heart and loving spirit. Angie’s life was cut short when she succumbed to injuries sustained in the Las Vegas Route 91 shooting. This senseless act of violence has rocked our Poly Cheer and Song family.”
Gomez spent months planning the Vegas trip with boyfriend Ethan Sanchez, who held her in his arms after she was shot.
“She was my life,” Sanchez tells PEOPLE.
Jennifer Topaz Irvine
Friend Stephanie Toms tells PEOPLE that Irvine, a 42-year-old San Diego attorney, “had the biggest heart.”
Friend Kyle Kraska wrote on Facebook that Irvine was “holding hands with her girlfriends singing and dancing to country music” when she was fatally shot.
The friend, Kyle Kraska, also told the San Diego Union-Tribune that Irving “was like a little sister. I just adore Jen.”
In addition to owning her own law practice, Irvine reportedly earned a black belt in Taekwondo, and her interests included yoga and snowboarding.
Christopher Louis Roybal
Roybal, a 29-year-old military veteran who served in Afghanistan, met his mom, Debby Allen, at the show but the two were on opposite sides of the stage when the gunfire began.
Allen — who was in Las Vegas to celebrate Roybal’s 29th birthday, which is next week — arrived separately to the concert from Roybal because Roybal had taken a nap.
When she arrived she texted to meet up. “Baby, where are you? Send me your location,” she wrote him, according to The Daily News. Allen never got a response and soon heard the gunfire.
“I was trying to run towards wherever I thought he might be,” she told the newspaper. “This man wouldn’t let me — he kept pulling me away saying, ‘You can’t run towards the gunfire.’”
A few hours later, she heard from her daughter that a firefighter — who was near Roybal — saw him fall to the ground after being shot.
“He said he rendered first aid but saw the life go out of my son,” she said. “I feel like I’m living in a nightmare, I want to wake up so badly.”
Roybal served 11 months in Afghanistan. His wife, Dixie, tole Reuters, “This isn’t where he was expecting something bad to happen to him.”
Rhonda M. LeRocque
LeRocque, 42, was attending the Jason Aldean concert with her husband, father-in-law and young daughter when shots rang out, according to her family.
“She had a very gentle voice. When she spoke she spoke very gently, [never] angry,” relative Chrissy Welch tells PEOPLE. “[Rhonda] always came through like an angel.”
Welch says LeRocque was celebrating her 21st wedding anniversary with a family trip to Las Vegas.
LeRocque worked for IDEO, a design firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was a devout Jehovah’s Witness.
“She was very devoted to her family and her husband,” Welch says. “She always wanted to know how you were doing, what was going on, if there was anything she could help with.”
A natural athlete and a student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the 20-year-old Robbins worked for the city of Henderson, Nevada, as a lead recreational assistant.
“His presence was huge,” uncle Mike Wells tells PEOPLE.
Robbins’ aunt, Kilee Wells Sanders, also confirmed his death on Facebook: “With an incredibly heavy heart. My sweetest nephew has passed away. 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, he is loved by so many.”
Cousin Felicia Walker also set up a GoFundMe page in his honor, writing “He had a beautiful soul filled with a radiating light. That light was shared with everyone he came in contact with. He had a this contagious laugh and a wonderful smile that he was always quick to give. He also was a man of many talents. He excelled at so much in life. Everyone who met him, loved him.”
Colleagues of 20-year-old Schweitzer, who worked for Infinity Communications, placed a single candle on her reception desk after learning about her death, her boss tells PEOPLE.
“She made a huge impression immediately,” boss Amie Campbell of Infinity Communications tells PEOPLE.
“We called her our sweet Bailey,” Campbell says. “You couldn’t have a bad day when she was around — she brightened up everyone’s day.”
Schweitzer, of Bakersfield, California, graduated from Centennial High School, where she was a cheerleader, Campbell says.
Outside of work, Schweitzer helped at the local speedway, which her family owned. From cleaning the track to helping racers keep score, no job was too small for Schweitzer, 20.
“She loved her family,” Campbell says. “Her nieces and her nephew were her world.”
Stacee Ann Etcheber
Etcheber, a 50-year-old mom and hair stylist in Novato, California, was the wife of a San Francisco police officer.
“With heavy hearts, the San Francisco Police Department today mourns the passing of Stacee Etcheber,” San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said in a statement on Tuesday morning, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Stacee was taken in a senseless act of violence as her husband, SFPD Officer Vinnie Etcheber, heroically rushed to aid shooting victims in Las Vegas on Sunday.”
In the midst of the gunfire, Etcheber told her husband to run as he stayed behind to help the wounded. On Monday, her brother-in-law, Al Etcheber, and some of his brother’s colleagues went to Las Vegas to search hospitals hoping they’d find her alive.
“Please pray for our family during this difficult time,” Al posted on Facebook. “She leaves behind two adoring beautiful children and an amazing husband.”
Stacee was looking forward to buying a five-bedroom home so her in-laws could move in.
“She had such a good heart,” her father-in-law, Jean Etcheber, tells PEOPLE.
A mother-of-three, Galvan loved being a mom.
“She lived and breathed being a mother,” a close friend tells PEOPLE. “Her family is her entire world.”
Galvan attended the festival with her husband and friends, her sister Lindsey Poole wrote on a GoFundMe page launched to help pay for funeral expenses.
She leaves behind her three children: ages 10, 4, and 2 years old, as well as her husband, her sister and her parents.
Now, her family members who are home in Thousand Oaks, California, are focusing on her children.
“[They’re] just trying to pick up the pieces and take care of the kids as best they can,” the friend says.
Rocio Guillen Rocha
Her sons describe mom-of-four Rocha, 40, of Eastvale, California, as a “loving mother who did everything she could for anyone who needed help.”
Marcus, 18, tells PEOPLE that Rocha was a “fighter” who spent a year learning to walk again after the birth of her son Christopher left her paralyzed from the waist down.
Rocha, a runner who regularly completed half-marathons, also loved watching her sons’ basketball, football and baseball games, often calling out the referees whenever she felt they botched a call.
A recent graduate of the University of Arizona, Duarte had just started her career in marketing landing her dream job with the Los Angeles Kings hockey team.
Duarte, 22, was also a member of the Sigma Kappa sorority, an organization which shared a photo of her on Monday and asked anyone with information on her whereabouts to contact them. Sadly she was later confirmed to one the 58 killed Sunday.
A statement released by the University of Arizona on Tuesday to all students and alumni confirmed the news of her death and expressing their condolences.
“This attack is a terrible tragedy for hundreds of families, and it is a shocking and horrific event for all of us. I know I speak for the UA community in expressing our deepest condolences for Christiana’s family and in asking for their privacy to be respected,” the statement read.
She is survived by her family, which includes her father, L.A. County Deputy District Attorney Michael Duarte and brother Chicago White Sox minor league baseball player Mikey Duarte. Her sudden death leaves her family reeling.
“She was my life,” her dad Michael Duarte tells PEOPLE. “I don’t know what I am going to do without her.”
Jack Reginald Beaton
Beaton and his wife, Laurie, were celebrating their 23rd wedding anniversary listening to live country music while drinking beers with their friends before bullets rained down on them.
The 54-year-old Bakersfield, California, native protected his wife by putting his own body on top of hers amidst the chaos of gunfire.
“He told me, ‘Get down, get down, get down,’ ” Laurie told the Associated Press. “He told me, ‘I love you, Laurie,’ and his arms were around me and his body just went heavy on me.”
Laurie opened up to the AP about her husband’s death with the purpose of wanting people to hear how he had protected her, just as he always had done. “I knew every day that he would protect me and take care of me and love me unconditionally, and what he did is no surprise to me, and he is my hero,” she said.
He is survived by his wife Laurie, son Jake and a daughter.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) paid tribute to Jack during a press conference. “Jack Beaton is a father of two and he was celebrating his 23rd wedding anniversary with his wife. When the shots rang out, he jumped in front of his wife and he gave the ultimate sacrifice for the one he loved,” McCarthy said.
Kurt Allen Von Tillow
Tillow’s brother-in-law, Mark Carson, told KCRA, “My brother-in-law was the most patriotic person you’ve ever met.” He added, “Guarantee you, he was covered in red, white and blue, with a Coors Light in his hand, smiling with his family and listening to some music.”
Tillow, 55, was from Cameron Park, California, and on Monday, friends and family remembered him at the Cameron Park Country Club — where he was a member — with a large procession of golf carts going from the club to his home, according to the news station.
“He loved to golf, loved his club, loved his family, loved his country,” Carson said. “He’ll be really missed.”
Andrea Lee Anna Castilla
The weeklong trip to Las Vegas to spend time with her boyfriend and visit her sister was a 28th birthday present to herself, but there was one thing still ahead that Castilla didn’t know about when a sniper’s bullet ended her life: Her boyfriend planned to propose marriage.
“He told me after she had passed,” Castilla’s sister, Athena, tells PEOPLE of her conversation with Derek Miller. Miller and Andrea had dated for seven months and lived together in Huntington Beach, California.
“[Miller] told me, ‘I was planning on asking her this weekend with you guys. … We talked about spending the rest of our lives together.’ ”
Brennan Lee Stewart
In a statement to PEOPLE, Stewart’s family said the 30-year-old “was the kind of guy who always put others before himself; including up to the moment he lost his life, Brennan shielded his girlfriend and helped others to safety.
“Las Vegas was his hometown, his love for country music was shown through the songs that he wrote, and the music he played on his guitar. Brennan rarely missed an opportunity to attend a country concert.
“Brennan made close friends quickly; was loved and will be missed greatly by family and friends, but his memory will live on.”
Vo, 32, had a knack for turning strangers into friends.
“She could strike up a conversation with anyone,” said Michelle’s older sister Cathy Vo, 34. “She was full of energy and always on the go. She really enjoyed life.”
About two years ago, Michelle discovered country music and began attending concerts in small venues, Cathy told PEOPLE. When she heard about the Route 91 Festival in Las Vegas, she knew she had to go.
An experienced traveler – she spent three months couch-surfing across Europe – Michelle left her Los Angeles home for a solo trip to Las Vegas. She struck up a friendship with Kody Robertson, from Columbus, Ohio, who threw himself on top of Michelle after she was shot in the chest and then stayed in touch with her family throughout the horrific night.
“If you were in her life, she definitely changed you. She knocked you over with all of the love and goodness she had in her,” Cathy said. “She was incredible.”
The 28-year-old Canadian was recently promoted to a manager position at her job and was planning to return to Edmonton, Alberta, on Wednesday to begin the new role.
“She was fun-loving, responsible, dedicated, hardworking. I don’t know what to say about her, honestly. It’s just a huge loss for us,” Scott Collingwood, a general manager at Moxies Bar/Grill, told The Las-Vegas Review Journal.
This was Medig’s third year attending the country music festival, said Collingwood. Medig planned to attend every year going forward. She was the life of the party and a trusted friend.
“She was the person you’d call at 2 a.m.,” friend Lyndsay Perham tells PEOPLE. “She was everything.”
Lisa Marie Patterson
When Bob Patterson didn’t hear back from his 46-year-old wife, Lisa, who had gone to Vegas with three girlfriends, the southern California resident jumped in the car and drove nearly 300 miles to look for her. “I went to four different hospitals,” the 53-year-old says. “I just couldn’t find her.
Learning that his wife of 21 years had been shot at the concert, where she “died immediately,” has left him shattered. “It was without a doubt, the worst day of my life,” Bob tells PEOPLE.
Their three children are still reeling. “I don’t think it has completely sunk in yet that Mommy’s not coming home – ever. She was the rock of this family,” Bob says. “I don’t know what we’re going to do without her.”
Cohen, 58, had the sort of smile that could light up a room, according to her sister, Kristal Vogel.
The mother-of-two was fatally shot Sunday evening during the Las Vegas concert massacre, but she was happy in the hours leading up to her death.
“She was so happy to be at that concert,” Vogel tells PEOPLE. “She was never home. She was always the first one to go out at night and the last one home. She had a free spirit.”
Cohen worked as a saleswoman and her charm helped her excel at work. “She could sell snow to an Eskimo,” Vogel says.
Cohen was the girlfriend of Derrick “Bo” Taylor, a commander with the California Department of Corrections, who was also killed in the attack.
Derrick Dean “Bo” Taylor
The California Department of Corrections confirmed Taylor’s death at the age of 56.
“I visited the camp ‘Bo’ Taylor managed and it was so uplifting to hear the stories from staff that clearly exemplified him as a well-liked and respected man, not only as a leader but as a friend,” CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan said in a release.
“He devoted nearly 30 years to our Department and served us well. I extend my warmest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.”
Taylor was the boyfriend of Denise Cohen, another fatal victim of the attack. Cohen’s sister tells PEOPLE that Taylor “loved life.”
“He had the best sense of humor,” his friend Lisa Rivera tells PEOPLE.
Brian S. Fraser
To his family and friends, Fraser, 39, was the “ultimate dad.”
“[He was] the most loving and caring, loyal, driven man and husband that there possibly was,” Nicholas Arellano, his son, tells PEOPLE. “What I learned from him is how to be a true man.”
Fraser — who leaves behind his wife and four children, ages 4, 10, 17 and 25— attended the Route 91 festival with his family, including Nicholas, and some friends. He was with his wife, Stephanie, and their daughter-in-law when he was fatally shot Sunday. They had made it to the front of the stage for his favorite Jason Aldean song, “Dirt Road Anthem,” his family wrote on a GoFundMe page set up to help pay for funeral expenses.
Despite having a demanding job as vice president of sales at a Southern California mortgage company, Fraser always made time for his family.
“He still found a way to go to every baseball game, every football game, every dance class on top of [taking us] hunting, fishing and everything he wanted to do with us,” Arellano says.
Stephen Richard Berger
Berger, a financial adviser, was out celebrating his 44th birthday when he was fatally shot.
The father-of-three had gone to Las Vegas to attend the three-day festival with a group of friends, including one coworker, Josh Decker.
“He had a large, wonderful personality,” Decker tells PEOPLE. “He was just incredibly positive all the time. Lots of positive energy and very charismatic.”
Berger, who in December would have marked 10 years at an employee at his company, EFS Advisors, was described in a company statement obtained by PEOPLE as a “loving and devoted father.”
“There are no words to express how much we have appreciated the opportunity to work with him, and how much he will be missed,” the statement said.
Gray, 54, tells PEOPLE her stepson, Cameron Robinson, was an intelligent, athletic and compassionate man who loved country music and doted on his young nephew.
“Any obstacle that was put in front of him, he just overcame it,” Gray says of Robinson, 28, a legal records specialist for the city of Las Vegas who lived in Cedar City, Utah.
“He would do those Ragnarok Races with [partner] Bobby [Eardley] and they would run marathons. He was a powerhouse and when he set his mind to something, he accomplished it.”
Hazencomb, 44, “was a big, tall guy, always smiling and waving at people,” friend Thomas Torres tells PEOPLE.
“He was kind, caring, helping others.”
He was at the festival concert with a longtime friend, his mother told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“He evidently saved her from getting hit so she could raise her two boys with her husband,” his mom told the paper.
Originally from Camarillo, California, he was an avid Los Angeles Angels and auto racing fan.
Austin William Davis
According to Lana Haddox of Bellingham, Washington, her grandson Davis was a warm-hearted 29-year-old pipe fitter from Riverside, California, who enjoyed playing softball with his friends and loved to fish, especially at Lake Havasu.
“He loved everybody,” Haddox, 77, tells PEOPLE, adding the “intense pain” caused by Austin’s death has shattered her heart.
“He was just the nicest guy. He had so many friends and he was so kind. To know him was to love him.”
Jordyn N. Rivera
Rivera was a fourth-year student in the health care management program at California State University, San Bernardino, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
University president Tomas Morales sent a message to the school community confirming the 21-year-old’s death, writing, “We will remember and treasure her for her warmth, optimism, energy and kindness.”
Family friend Mike Schrader launched a GoFundMe page to support her family, writing, “I’m lost for words right now and I cannot imagine or even begin to think how [her parents] feel right now.”
Rivera had a strong faith in God.
“We’ll see her again,” father Albert Rivera tells PEOPLE. “She’s with our family that have gone before.”
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Anderson’s death was confirmed by the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, where her husband John works. The organization posted a message on behalf of Anderson’s family, saying that Dorene “was the most amazing wife, mother and person this world ever had.
“We are so grateful and lucky for the time that we did have with her. We are greatly appreciative and want to thank everyone for the thoughts and prayers you have been sending us. We are dealing with the situation as a family, and would appreciate our privacy as we grieve for our loss.”
Anderson, 49, was the treasurer of the fan club for the Alaska Aces, a minor league hockey team.
“Dorene was our treasurer of the cowbell crew this past year and a wonderful, generous person who was a friend to many. Thoughts and prayers go out to her family.”
Victor L. Link
The father of a grown son, Link was a “huge, passionate” country music fan, his brother Craig tells PEOPLE. Link and his fiancé, Lynn Gonzelez, traveled from their home in Aliso Viejo, California to attend the Route 91 Harvest Festival with another couple.
“They loved their music,” Craig says.
Victor is survived by Gonzalez and his 25-year-old son, Christian.
Carly Anne Kreibaum
A native of Sibley, Iowa, the 33-year-old Kreibaum was a mother of two, a close friend tells PEOPLE. She graduated from Sibley-Ocheyedan High School and later attended Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska, according to her Facebook page.
“She liked to have fun and she loved her family and her friends,” the friend tells PEOPLE. “She never said a bad word about anybody. She was just a very thoughtful person — she’s going to be really missed.”
Earlier this week, her husband, Chris, thanked friends for their support on Facebook.
Dana Leann Gardner
Gardner, 52, from Grand Terrace, California, was a hard-worker and a loving mother and grandmother, according to her children, who issued a statement to PEOPLE.
Her children described Gardner as “an amazing human being” who “stood for everything good in the world.”
She “had a contagious smile that would light up a room and a sense of humor that would make everyone laugh.”
As her children grew older, Gardner started traveling more and spending time with friends. “As her children it was so enjoyable to see her so vibrant and full of life and that is how we will always remember her,” reads the statement.
Teresa Nicol Kimura
Kimura, 38, and her circle of friends were so close that they considered themselves “family, a combination of friends and family,” longtime friend Ryan Miller, 39 tells PEOPLE.
Frequent concertgoers, the Placentia, California, native and her friends had been looking forward to the Route 91 Harvest country music festival since the last one in 2016, he says. But this year, he says, “seven of us went and only six of us came home.”
Kimura, whom Miller called “a beacon of light,” had an infectious laugh and a loving personality.
Survived by her parents and a sister, she will live on forever in her friends’ hearts, he says. “We want everyone to know what a beautiful spirit and what a big, light personality that she had. She was in so many ways, larger than life.”
Laura Anne Shipp
Shipp, 50, was committed to her only son Corey.
After spending most of her life in Southern California, she moved to Las Vegas about five years ago to be near her son who was stationed there as a U.S. Marine, according to reports in the Ventura County Star newspaper.
“She was his world,” Laura’s brother Steve Shipp told the newspaper, “and he was hers.”
Steve said his sister attended the Route 91 Harvest festival with boyfriend, son and some of his friends. Through the course of the evening, the group was separated. For more than a day, the family searched for Laura.
On Tuesday, they received notice that Laura was one of the victims.
“She was incredibly proud of her son,” Steve tells PEOPLE. “It was just the two of them. And now it’s the one of them.”
Candice Ryan Bowers
Bowers, 40, was a single mother of three children who rarely took time for herself.
She had recently adopted her 2-year-old niece, so her family was excited when she decided to attend the Route 91 Harvest festival with a friend.
“She was fiercely protective and loyal to her kids,” her aunt Michelle Bolks tells PEOPLE. “Awesome person, beyond awesome mom.”
A GoFundMe page was set up to raise funds for Bowers’ memorial service, according to the site.
“Candice left this world doing what she loved – dancing to country music among loved ones,” it states. “She will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.”
Heather Lorraine Alvarado
Alvarado was a 35-year-old married mother of three when she was killed. Her obituary describes her as a being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who loved to spend time with her family, fishing, camping and celebrating Halloween with her kids.
She was a native of Norwalk, California. Her obituary reads, “Heather always brought a smile to the room, was happy all the time, and was an awesome mom. Her daughter and brother were her best friends.”
She married her “true love” fireman Albert Alvarado on March 23, 2002, and they later renewed their vows in Las Vegas 10 years later. When she wasn’t with her family, she ran an in-home daycare in Cedar City, Utah.
“We shared so many beautiful memories together,” her friend Selina Lopez tells PEOPLE. “I will miss her terribly.”
Her funeral will be held Friday, Oct. 13 at the Enoch Stake Center in Utah at 2 p.m. She is survived by her parents, a brother and sister, husband and three kids: Syrus, Albie and Charlie.
Mestas, a 67-year-old resident of Menifee Lakes, California, and was enjoying the Route 91 Harvest concert with her friend Kim Gervais and her son on Oct. 1.
She “was one great lady, loved her family and country music,” according to a GoFundMe set up by her daughter-in-law.
“[Mestas] was at the concert in Las Vegas enjoying the music that she waited so long to go to… happy and excited,” it read.
Mestes was a grandmother of eight who loved babies.
“People were drawn to her,” her brother JD Arrighi tells PEOPLE. “They’d know her a few minutes and feel they’d known her for life.”
All proceeds raised from her GoFundMe page will be used to bring Mestas’ body to California from Nevada.
Carolyn Lee Parsons
Parsons, a native of Bainbridge Island, Washington, was a fan of Eric Church, one of the singer’s who performed at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
“Night made!” She wrote in a photo of herself at the concert, which she posted on Instagram. After her death on Monday evening, her friend, Carolyn Farmer, shared an image of the Instagram on Eric Church’s page to commemorate her friend.
“My good friend Carrie Parsons lost her life in the route 91 harvest shooting Sunday,” Farmer wrote. “She loved your music. 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 know she was living life until her last moments, loving country music.”
Parsons friend Kelli Lovett tells PEOPLE of her contagious laugh and boundless energy. She was often a confidante to her friends.
“She always had everyone’s best interest at heart,” says Lovett.
Schwanbeck, 61, was attending the Route 91 Harvest country music festival with his fiancée Anna Orozco, according to a GoFundMe page set up by his family.
He was injured in the first round of gunfire. Several people helped Orozco carry him to an awaiting ambulance, and he was taken to Sunrise Medical Center where he “fought a great fight to recover from his injuries.”
Schwanbeck, who was a retired truck driver from Bullhead City, Arizona, succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday.
“Brett was a great man that was funny, generous, kind, loving and so full of joy!” the GoFundMe page reads. “He would drive 500 miles to help you if you needed it. He loved his family dearly and cherished lake trips, family gatherings, hunting, camping and spending time with his kids and grandkids.”
Schwanbeck was a grandfather who loved having family around. “He was a peacemaker who wasn’t shy about expressing his opinion,” his niece Carla Van Hoosen tells PEOPLE. “Everyone adored him.”
Austin Cooper Meyer
Meyer, from Marina, California, was celebrating his 24th birthday with his girlfriend in Las Vegas when he was shot and killed.
“Austin was attending the festival with his girlfriend, Dana, as a surprise celebrating his 24th birthday and upcoming anniversary,” his sister, Veronica, told KSBW.
“[He] was a joy to be around,” Veronica added. “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.”
Meyer had moved to Reno, Nevada, to study at Truckee Meadows Community College, according to KSBW. He was working at a Costco in Sparks, Nevada, according to a GoFundMe page set up by a coworker.
He was hoping to earn a degree in Transportation Technologies and open an auto repair shop, his mother tells PEOPLE. “He was excited to get married and start a family,” she says.”
Tara Ann Roe Smith
Roe Smith, a model, mother and wife, from Okotoks, Alberta, Canada also worked as an educational assistant for the Foothills School Division.
The 34-year-old was described as “a friendly face” who had a “very caring spirit,” according to her modeling agency Sophia Models International, which shared a tribute to Roe Smith on Facebook. “We are saddened, shocked and pray for everyone affected by this tragedy.”
Roe Smith was also an educational assistant for the Foothills School Division, according to a statement on their website from superintendent John Bailey.
“It is with sadness, shock, and grief that we confirm the loss of a Foothills School Division staff member,” Bailey confirmed.
A GoFundMe page was created to help support Roe Smith’s husband, Zach, and their two young sons.
Silva was working as a security guard at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival.
The 21-year-old Las Vegas resident was stationed at the front of the stage, Gina Argento, office manager at the Contemporary Services Corporation security, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
As bullets rained down on the area where he was standing, Silva chose not to run for his life but rather helped concert-goers escape, Argento said.
As he helped others flee he was struck and fatally injured.
He was trying to help people get out,” she told the Journal. “He was in front of the stage. He was in front of everything.”
On a GoFundMe page set up by his coworkers, the 21-year-old was described as a “leader” at home and at events.
“He was the epitome of integrity, service, and excellence and we will miss him dearly,” his coworker Jay Purves wrote.
Kelsey Breanne Meadows
Meadows, 28, was a native of Taft, California, who worked as a substitute teacher at her alma mater, Taft Union High School, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Her brother, Brad, shared the news of her death on Facebook Tuesday, writing, “My family and I want to take a minute and thank everyone that has been trying to help us locate my sister.”
“So it is with an absolutely shattered heart that I let everyone know that Kelsey did not survive this tragic event,” he continued.
According to the Times, the school district made counselors available for grieving students and staff and planned a vigil for her at the high school Wednesday evening.
“Kelsey was smart, compassionate and kind,” Principal Mary Alice Finn said in a statement to the Times. “She had a sweet spirit and a love for children.”
Melissa V. Ramirez
Ramirez, 26, was a graduate of California State University, Bakersfield. Her love of country music drew her to the Route 91 Harvest Festival, where she would ultimately lose her life.
She was the daughter of Mexican immigrants, and studied business, according to the New York Times.She would spend her summers during high school working alongside her parents selling fruit and vegetables for a local farm company at flea markets, the Times reported.
“She always helped her parents, and just wanted to be there,” her cousin, Fabiola Farnetti, told the outlet.
Bill Wolfe Jr.
Wolfe and his wife, Robyn, were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary at the country music festival, according to the AP. He would’ve turned 43 on Oct. 15.
The father of one, from Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, was an elementary school wrestling coach and a Little League team. A GoFundMe page was created by the Shippensburg University wrestling team.
“It is with the most of broken hearts, the families of Bill Wolfe Jr. and his wife Robyn share that Bill has been confirmed to be among the deceased as a result of the mass attack in Las Vegas. Please continue to hold their entire family as well as those affected across the nation in your unending prayers,” the description reads.
• Reporting by ELAINE ARADILLAS, K.C. BAKER, JOHNNY DODD, ALEXANDRA ROCKEY FLEMING, CHRIS HARRIS, STEVE HELLING, DIANE HERBST, CAITLIN KEATING, CHRISTINE PELISEK, HARRIET SOKMENSUER, JEFF TRUESDELL and JULIETTE VARA