Vicki Louise Hall Clauson, 1955-2018

There is nothing like the loss of a parent to leave a child overwhelmed with all the responsibilities and duties of taking care of that parent’s final arrangements. That’s what is happening to three women I’ve known since they were preschoolers.

Elyse, Lauren and Renee are the daughters of my son’s God-father, Gene, who passed away in 2016. Well, his ex-wife, Vicki died earlier this month and to help draw some of the strain off ‘the girls,’ I offered to do the only thing I’m fairly decent at.

Vicki Louise Hall Clauson, 63, passed away from a pulmonary embolism brought on by end-stage kidney failure, following a lengthy battle with diabetes on October 18, 2018 at Providence Medical Center, in Medford, Oregon. She was born in Portland, Oregon, on April 6, 1955 and raised in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.

Prior to moving to Oregon to be near her daughters, Vicki worked at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks, Nevada, for 13 years. She was a member of the Red Hats Society and volunteered at the Central Point Senior Center.

Vicki is preceded in death by her parents, Richard and Vesta Hall and her former husband Gene Clauson. She is survived by her brother Gary Hall of Prescott, Arizona and her three daughters, Elyse Fryling, her husband, Dustin and their two daughters, Alyssa and Rylee of Medford, Oregon; Renee Clauson of Central Point, Oregon; and Lauren Clauson and her three daughters, Sierra Ingram, Madison Turner and Natalie Turner of Denver, Colorado.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made in Vicki’s name to the American Diabetes Association. Funerary arrangements are being handled by Perl Funeral Home.

In a nutshell — death sucks!

Las Vegas Shooting: Mike Cronk

From my notes:  “Yes, I’ve ‘scoped’ down profiles on survivors and those who helped save others. We need to know, that amid the darkness, a brighter light shined the night of the Vegas shooting.”

As the shooting began in Las Vegas, Mike Cronk stood his ground. He tried to help his friend who had taken three bullets to the chest.

“Most people started scattering and they climbed the fence, but I had to stay with my buddies. We got him over the fence once the firing stopped and slid him under a stage so we were safe.

My first thoughts were for my buddy. I wanted to make sure he was taken care of. But, you know, we were pretty much yelling at everybody to stay down. That was what we needed to do.”

Dorothy Lane, 1934-2018

My son, Kyle, lost his last grandparent on October 6, 2018 in Sedalia, Missouri. Dorothy Lane was born August 10, 1934 in Kansas City, Missouri, to Floyd and Grace Whittle.

She was raised in Kansas City and later lived in Nevada and California, where she worked as a manager for several doctors’ offices. It was while she was living in Reno, that I came to know her because of Kyle, through my son’s mother, Charissa Robbins.

As Kyle wrote on his Facebook timeline: “I will always love you and I will miss you until I see you again. Heaven gained an angel tonight.”

Las Vegas Shooting: Addison Short

From my notes:  “Wynn Las Vegas and Encore have begun checking bags with handheld metals detectors.”

In the middle of the Las Vegas shooting, Addison Short tried to make a run for it. But her knee gave way: “I just got shot, I can’t run. You kept hearing gunshots. They just weren’t stopping.”

Then a man used his belt to wrap her leg in a tourniquet and rush her to safety, “He just picked me up and threw me over his shoulder.”

The man carried her to a taxi that took her to the hospital, “It was just the scariest experience of my life.”

Bad for Business

Dreams can be so real and yet so odd. Real because of how you feel and think after waking up, odd because of the subject of the dream and (at least for me) the ‘composite people’ that make up the dreamscape.

A group of us were at dinner, when I was called away from the table to the telephone. Elizabeth, a friend of mine wanted to know if I were available for drinks.

Having jus’ finished eating I told her that I was and that I’d soon be over to her place to pick her up. I then returned to the table to excuse myself.

As I was saying my good-byes and heading for the exit, I was stopped – I had another telephone call. Again it was Elizabeth, who was now begging off our getting together because she was reminded that being seen with me was a bad move for her radio career.

Hurt, I told her that I understood, hung up the phone and proceeded to leave the restaurant. As I entered the foyer and walk by the front desk, another friend named Debbie, stopped me and asked if everything were okay.

As briefly as possible I explained what happened. Feeling bad for me, she hugged me tight and told me, “If I weren’t at work right now, I’d take you home and we’d have more than a night-cap.”

“Thank you,” I responded as my bedside alarm clock began to sound off.

Las Vegas Shooting: The Beatons

From my notes:  “Marilou Danley came to the U.S. as Marilou Natividad, married Geary Danley in 1990 and took his surname. Danley lives in Arkansas, but he has declined to answer questions. In 1996, Marilou wed Jose Bustos, and became Marilou Bustos. But she did not dissolve her marriage to Danley until 2015, divorce records show.”

The Beatons traveled from Bakersfield to the Las Vegas music festival to celebrate their 23rd wedding anniversary. That Sunday evening, Jack would die a hero shielding his wife, Laurie.

“He told me, ‘Get down, get down, get down!'”

He put his body on top of hers for protection. Laurie knew her husband was dead when she told him she loved him and he didn’t respond.

“He told me, ‘I love you, Laurie,’ and his arms were around me and his body just went heavy on me. I screamed his name and he wasn’t answering me. There was a lot of blood.”

Someone yelled run, “So we ran. 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. He is my hero.”

Maria Conteras and Chuck Whitten get Married

It was a very enjoyable day on October 26th, for everyone involved, I do believe. The day I’m speaking of is the wedding of my very good friend, Chuck Whitten and his best friend, Maria Jesus Molina Contreras.

They asked me to be their photographer for not only the nuptials, but also for the small party after, which was held on the deck of a local restaurant. It was a glorious day, all the way around.

Somehow, Chuck managed to get a photograph of me when I wasn’t looking. That’s what I get for putting the camera down – and how one breaks their camera in the end.

As a funny aside, I posted on Facebook, a couple of other photographs sent to me the following day, by the newly weds, including a close-up of Maria and me. The next thing I know, I have some of my friends and a number of her friends congratulating ‘us’ on ‘getting married.’ There was so much confusion about whom-married-whom, that I eventually  removed the pictures from my timeline.

Whoa!

Anyway, thank you Maria and Chuck for letting me be small a part of your special day. May you have a long and happy life together!

Las Vegas Shooting: the Queen’s Dragoon Guard

From my notes:  “The murderer in the Las Vegas shooting legally purchased firearms from Nevada, Utah, California, and Texas.”

They were on leave in Las Vegas during the mass shooting. The ‘they’ are six soldiers from the UK’s Queen’s Dragoon Guards. The half-dozen men had been taking part in a training exercise in the Nevada desert and were enjoying their time-off and a drink in a nearby casino at the time.

Ross Woodward explains that the six of them used their training to try and save as many people as they could, using pillows, tea towels, belts and their shirts as makeshift tourniquets to stop the injured bleeding out as dead bodies lay around them.

“At first we just believed it was fireworks and then there was chaos. Everyone was screaming the ‘gun man’s coming.’ I wouldn’t consider myself a hero – I just think any soldier would have done the same in our position.

You are never off duty. You always have this level of professionalism about yourself, where you feel like you should help, you should be there to help people.

You have got the background, you have got the training to help people, so why wouldn’t you. I hope we saved lives, I like to think we did what we could.”

Las Vegas Shooting: Nurse Vanessa

From my notes:  “In the last three years alone, more than 200 reports about the Las Vegas murder’s activities — particularly large transactions at casinos — have been filed with law enforcement authorities.”

An off-duty nurse from Orange County, California, who only identified herself as Vanessa, ran back amid the danger to help rescue those who had suffered gunshot wounds. She was in Las Vegas to attend the music festival on Sunday night.

“We went back because I’m a nurse and I just felt that I had to. I went to three different scenes. The first one was OK. The second one was worse. And by the time I got to the third one, there was just dead bodies.

There was so many people, just normal citizens, doctors, cops, paramedics, nurses, just off-duty. Everyone was just communicating and working together. It was completely horrible, but it was absolutely amazing to see all of those people come together.”

Las Vegas Shooting: UNLV Assistant Hockey Coach Nick Robone

From my notes:  “When police officers closed in on the gunman at Mandalay Bay, he may have been watching their every move through cameras placed in the hallway.”

University of Nevada, Las Vegas assistant hockey coach Nick Robone was at the Las Vegas concert with his brother, Anthony, a Henderson, Nevada Fire Department paramedic. Initially, the pair thought they heard firecrackers.

“The moment I realized that it was gunshots was when I heard my brother say, ‘I got hit.’ I turned around and I saw him coughing up blood.”

Nick was shot in the chest.

“We just took a little piece of plastic – it appeared to be a sucking chest wound, (so) we put the plastic piece on his chest over the wound” and secured it with three adhesive bandages.”

Nick was put onto an ambulance. Anthony stayed to help, “It was a group effort between everybody, whether they were trained medically or not.”

And about his wounded brother, “I think he’s going to make it out, because he’s tough.”

Las Vegas Shooting: Lindsay Padgett and Mark Jay

From my notes:  “Jimmy Kimmel, who grew up in Las Vegas, blames Congress for the Vegas shooting, claiming they’re in the pocket of the NRA.”

Lindsay Padgett and her fiancé Mark Jay were at the Las Vegas music festival Sunday night when the shooting started. After dropping to the ground, they made a break for it, running to an airport hangar for shelter, before making it back to their parked truck.

While driving away a stranger flagged them down, saying he need their vehicle, “We [said], ‘Load them up. Let’s go.’ [We] loaded as many as we could. I just feel like that’s what you do. When people need help, you have to take them to the hospital.”

Las Vegas Shooting: Amy McAslin and Krystal Goddard

From my notes: “They shut the lights off on the concert field while first responders were assessing shooting victims, claiming everyone laying the field was deceased even though some were breathing and crying for help.”

Roommates Amy McAslin and Krystal Goddard dived under a table as the gunfire began in Las Vegas on Sunday night. Eventually, McAslin realized she was being shielded by someone who’d just been shot.

“A gentleman – I don’t know his name – he completely covered me. He covered my face. He said, ‘I’ve got you. Just truly incredible, [a] stranger, jumping over me to protect me.”

It’s not clear when the man was wounded. But he said that he had been ‘shot in his rear-end area, and that there was a lot of blood.’ McAslin said the trio held onto one another tightly, chanting: “Everything is going to be okay.”

Once the shooting stopped, the man was helped to a triage area. Goddard and McAslin ran toward an exit, “He’s been in my thoughts all day. He’s a truly amazing person for just trying to protect the whole, under, the whole table area where we were.”

Electric Dream Eel

My bedside clock reads 2139 hours and I’m jus’ awake from a very bizarre dream. I was running across the desert towards a bluff that overlooks what I believed to be a pond.

When I got to the edge, I jumped from the cliff towards the water. As I dropped to the surface, two things happened: I realized it wasn’t a pond, but the ocean and a gigantic electric eel came to the surface, swallowing me whole.

While I didn’t notice the lock-blade knife in my right hand while running, I did after being swallowed up. I used the knife to cut my way out of the eel, where I was then able wade ashore and walk home.

The dream ended abruptly as I reached for the door knob of my front door. And no — zero drugs or alcohol in my system — simply a lot of weirdness.

Las Vegas Shooting: Photographer Brandon O’Neal

From my notes:  “Australia’s Courier-Mail reporters having spoken to Brian Hodge, who was in the room next to the Las Vegas murder. He states: “There were multiple people dead and multiple shooters. I was just hiding waiting for police to come get us. I got outside safely and was hiding in bushes. My floor is a crime scene. They killed a security guard on my floor.””

Photographer Brandon O’Neal was backstage during the music festival in Las Vegas, Sunday night. At first, he thought it was speakers on stage popping.

“It was so loud I put my hand over my ears and was like, ‘Oh my god, the speakers are about to blow up. And then everything just– everything stopped. No one knew where [the gunfire] was coming from. We had no idea where to go.”

O’Neal kept his camera rolling as he ran for his life, “We ran around the stage and we could hear bullets like whizzing by like – ricocheting. That’s when we made it to this exit to try to go to the parking lot and there was a cop car there so we went behind the cop car.”

In the chaos, a girl next to him was shot, “My friend and a couple of other people picked her up and brought her over to the police vehicle to just get her out of harm’s way. She just she wasn’t moving. I don’t think she made [it].”

Looking across the field, “You didn’t know if they were shot or not. I saw a bunch of people just laid out on the floor. I don’t really want to describe what I saw. It’s just — not good. When I wake up, [I’m] praying it was a nightmare and then it’s real.”

Las Vegas Shooting: Dr. Heather Melton

From my notes: “The Vegas murderer’s ‘companion’ is documented as Marilou Natividad-Bustos, in California, with a birthday of January 1962 — making her 55 years old. In Nevada, she’s registered as Marilou Lou Danley, with a birthday of December 1954 — meaning she would be 62. She also has two social security numbers.”

As an orthopedic surgeon from Big Sandy, Tennessee, Heather Melton is used to a certain amount of trauma. But the trauma of what happened Sunday night in Las Vegas is one she cannot repair.

She and her husband, Sonny were both attending the music festival. She survived, but Sonny, who shielded her from the bullets, was killed.

“He protected me. He saved my life. Sonny helped me through probably the most difficult time in my life. So I always say he saved me once, and now he has saved me again.

Big and Rich were playing, ‘God Bless America’ and the whole crowd was singing at the top of their lungs. Everybody had their phone lights up and it was just a really nice atmosphere. That was about an hour before the shooting started.

I actually turned to Sonny and I said, ‘Was that a gun?’ and he said, ‘I don’t think so,’ because the music was very loud. And then there came a longer series of shots and I said, ‘I think that’s guns.’ And then the third time it was even longer. And that’s when Jason Aldean ran off the stage.

I said to Sonny, ‘We just need to get down. And he said, ‘No, we can’t get down because we’ll get trampled.’ And that’s when he just wrapped his arms around me from behind and we started running. And that’s when I felt him get shot in the back and we fell to the ground. I couldn’t feel a pulse and there were still bullets flying all around us.

[Then] they actually shut the lights off of the stage and there was just darkness, and I could just see images around me of people on the ground, people running. It was like you were thrown into a battlefield.

Two men with a truck lifted Sonny from the field and took him to a nearby hospital. It wasn’t very long after they arrived at the hospital that Heather learned Sonny was gone.

“I was covered in Sonny’s blood. I was in so much shock and pain at the time that I felt like I couldn’t even breathe. [But] really in my heart, I feel like [his passing] happened on the field.

After he was pronounced, she leaned over, kissed him and hugged him, but because of another incoming trauma, “They asked me to leave and that was the last time I saw him. The hospital had a chaplain who came and spoke with me, and some other representatives who were trying to tell me about talking to the coroner, and the morgue, and whatever else needed to be done. But those things, they don’t register at that time.

And I just remember the homicide detectives walking in to talk to me, and I just wanted to run away. Like, ‘I don’t want to be the person you need to talk to,’ but I am. And finally, I don’t even remember what time it was, maybe 3:00 in the morning, they let us leave.

I told my children the next day. I wanted to tell them before they saw it on the news, and they’re completely grief-stricken. He was the best stepdad they could ever have, and he loved them like they were his own children.

I’m going back with two suitcases and my husband’s going to be in the cargo. This is not how I want to fly back with him. It’s just almost unbearable to think about. [But] I actually don’t have anger, but I refuse to even think about the demon that shot and killed so many people. I don’t even know his name, and I don’t want to know his name.”

Compassion

As a child I was selfish, like most children. I had to be taught compassion.

As an adult, I thought I knew all about compassion and had to learn the hard way that I didn’t. In fact, it took me several lessons, via some hard-knock situations to realize that compassion is both an ongoing process and a subject that one cannot ever learn enough about.

There are still lessons in compassion to be learned. Sometimes we are the teacher, other times we’re the student.

Either way, we have a place of our own in the broad vista of life’s compassion.

Las Vegas Shooting: Auburn, Washington Firefighter Dean McAuley

From my notes:  ” FBI is suggesting the Vegas murderer’s mental state was deteriorating, that he had significant weight loss, an increasingly slovenly physical appearance and obsession with his girlfriend’s ex-husband.”

Visiting from Auburn, Washington, off-duty firefighter Dean McAuley was in Las Vegas to see a concert. Instead he ended up saving lives during the Sunday night attack.

“We started moving toward the center of the stage. Jason Aldean was out, and the crowd was just having a really good time. Then pops started happening, and it sounded like fireworks. It took me about 3-4 seconds to know it wasn’t fireworks. So we got down and a lot of people started getting down and we started to hear some screaming.

As soon as [Aldean] pulled his guitar off and was scrambling to get off stage, you could see sparks hitting the stage as well. Bullets were ricocheting. It was very clear it was an automatic weapon, and we could not determine where it was coming from. Just chaos and you could see people dropping, and you could hear people screaming.

As soon as there were was a break, we got up, but the break was very minimal. Knowing what we know now, [the gunman] was probably switching guns and started he again and we went down. We could still see people coming our direction trying to get out, and you could see people dropping. He continued to shoot, we could hear people screaming for medics; screaming for help.

People were trying to get up over fences and there was nowhere to go – these fences were so high and kids were climbing up on these fences and just getting picked off by bullets because they were just falling off the other side. You could hear what was going on. We pulled one girl into our group and we kept hearing: ‘I need help, I need help!’ That was probably the hardest things I’ve ever experienced. We’re designed to help immediately.”

Explaining that when he had the chance to escape, he told a friend, “I told him I can’t, I have to go to work. I get to go to work, because I want to. There [wasn’t] a first responder there that didn’t want to go to work. [So] if you want a title of a hero, there were thousands of heroes there.”

Once inside the medical tent, McAuley described, “It’s a moment there I will never forget; looking at this off-duty firefighter – I don’t know his name – and we just both looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s go.’ We went out and emptied a big garbage wheelbarrow and came across another wounded victim. We loaded her into it; she had a pulse so we felt she was saveable, and raced her back to the tent.

At that point, the floor in the tent was something out of a war movie; lots of blood and lots of bodies. Best way I could describe it was just like a blood bath [because] we had bodies, a lot of bodies.

[In another instance a] pickup truck, I’ll never forget two people – a husband who was handing me his wife saying ‘She’s fine, she’s fine, you just have to get her in there.’ I had to check pulses and she didn’t have a pulse. That was the moment…that was really tough.

I really hope that [what] people get out of this is – there was one bad person, there were 30,000-plus amazing human beings, incredible human beings. There’s so much negativity in this world; and I hope that’s not what people get out of this – there were some remarkable people working together doing things – total strangers helping each other; people with no training wanting to help each other.

We all became one that night. There’s a lot of love in his world and a I got to see humanity in action. I got to see one person at their worst, but I got to see humanity at its best. We had hundreds of people willing to put their life on the line and get out there and help.”

Las Vegas Shooting: Brian Rogers and EMT Kaitlyn Rogers

From my notes:  “A source has let me know that law enforcement has a video of the Vegas murderer shooting from the hotel room. Apparently he set up a system to tape himself in the act. What a disconnect.”

It was a few minutes after 10, Sunday night when Brian Rogers’ cellphone went off. It was his daughter, Kaitlyn, who left her shift helping out at the ambulance’s medic tent to enjoy a bit of the country music.

“I expected she was calling to say good night. And she said, ‘Daddy, they’re shooting at me.’ That’s a big statement to make for somebody to get when they’re half asleep, so I don’t know that I reacted.”

A feeling of helplessness hit Rogers as he sped to the scene not even knowing if his youngest daughter was still alive.

“When I first arrived, there were people lying in the street, deceased. There were people running out of the venue covered in blood, and it was very hard to tell which ones were the patients versus which ones were the people helping them. It was chaotic.”

Meanwhile, Kaitlyn was in the medic tent, spiking IV bags as the space filled with the injured, “We didn’t know what was going on, really, outside of that tent. Just to have people that could look at me and say ‘We’re OK,’ and me to kind of return, that was just something that could kind of keep us going and keep our focus on a patient and not us.”

Days later, Rogers is still fighting with his feelings, “I’m going through a lot of the different emotions that you go through. I was, and I still am, very angry. I don’t know how something so evil could happen to so many people.

“I’m just trying to understand how and why, and I may never know. That’s the hardest part, never knowing, right?”

Las Vegas Shooting: EMT Glen Simpson

From my notes:  “Investigators are now trying to identify the mystery woman seen with the murderer in the days before the Las Vegas massacre.”

For Glen Simpson, Sunday night hadn’t been particularly eventful. An emergency medical technician, he was hired to provide medical services at the event.

“I got a radio call to go over to Gate 2A, specifically [to help a man who had to much to drink.] [At first] it sounded like power lines that were just hitting each other. It was longer, a little bit louder.”

The five Metropolitan Police Department officers walking alongside Simpson drew their weapons. He ducked.

“I just thought to myself, ‘What is this? Is this happening?’‘Is this the real thing?’”

Simspon never once saw where the bullet’s wer coming from,, “I could just hear it, and it echoed. I’d even say you could hear it hitting people, just listening to the way people were moaning and screaming and crying.”

Simpson, now in the field amid the carnage, called his mom and dad. Waking them from sleep, he said, “I love you,” then hung up.

He immediately went to work treating the wounded.

Las Vegas Shooting: Las Vegas Firefighter Ben Kole and EMT Rachel Kole

From my notes:  “Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer Charleston Hartfield was shot and killed during the Las Vegas mass-shooting. Hartfield was a military veteran, a youth football coach and recently published author.”

Off duty, Las Vegas firefighter Ben Kole was enjoying the Sunday evening concert. He knew his daughter Rachel was working as an EMT in the arena.

Then a gunman opened fire on concertgoers and he raced through the chaos to find her.

“It was absolutely the worst feeling. My gut just dropped. We embraced, shed a few tears, [then] she said, ‘People need help,’ I said, ‘Okay,’ and we said, ‘Let’s get to work.’ I said, ‘You are on my hip, let’s go.'”

The father-daughter team started treating everyone they could. Kole remembers how helpless he felt at the time.

“People were screaming, there were some head shots over there, and unfortunately, there’s not much you can do for that. It’s horrible for me. One hundred times worse for them.”

Rachel recalls,”There was a woman laying on the floor and there was a man crouched by her and I asked if they needed medical attention. He just waved me off. The fact that he could be so selfless and know that there are others in need as well.”

She also speaks of her father’s leadership, “When you close your eyes at night, and you see all the lights and all the people, that’s something you can’t run from. I don’t see him shaking to the core. I see him when everything was in chaos pulling together, giving instructions, not breaking down.”

“I’m glad my daughter says it didn’t strike me to my core,” Kole interrupted. “It did. This hit me hard.”

Rachel admits that they’re both seeking help, “Our counselor told us something really amazing. She said, ‘If you let this fear change your life, then he’s taking another victim.'”

Las Vegas Shooting: Linda and Donnie Proctor

From my notes:  “Authorities have recovered over 40 firearms from the Las Vegas murders hotel room and his home.”

Linda and Donnie Proctor went to Las Vegas with their daughter and son-in-law to see country music artist Jake Owen, a family friend perform. He gave them backstage passes.

At first she was confused about the sounds and didn’t realize what was happening. Linda describes what happened next.

“Then everybody just starts screaming, ‘Get down! Get down!’ So we all just fell down on the ground. I laid there, and I swear to God, I wondered what it’s going to feel like to get shot. I just knew I was going to get shot.”

Finally mustering the courage to run for cover, she ducked beneath a food truck where she heard a woman ask, “Can I put my baby in your cooler?” to shield him.

When she saw an opening in the fence, she tried to shimmy under, but she got stuck.

“I knew no one. I was alone, But, I thought, ‘I can do this.’ [Then] some young girl that I don’t know came back for me. She helped pull the fence off me and pull me under.”

Linda found herself in a parking lot full of buses and trucks.

“I stood there by myself and I just didn’t know what to do.”

Hiding behind bus, she glanced around. She found herself next to Jake Owen’s crew’s bus.

“I ran around the bus, and I banged on the door and it was locked, but they opened it up and pulled me in. Nobody knew anything for a long time. I was trying to be so brave, but I have to admit, I thought my husband or daughter could be laying out there on that field.”

But her husband, daughter and son-in-law made their own escape.

“After Linda had gone, we stayed down, because the bullets were coming all into us. We knew to stay low and stay behind things. “We were behind some 50-gallon drums with bullets still coming in. We waited for them to finally stop, and took off again.”

In between taking cover and running for safety, Donnie described looking back over the concert field: “The younger folks were just traumatized. You know, little kids and stuff? Frozen with fear and sitting down and crying their eyes out right in the middle, where they could be shot.”

The trio eventually made it to the MGM, got a ride as far as the police barricades before walking the rest of the way to the Mandalay.

After hearing her family was safe, Linda says, “I just stood there by myself. I was in shock. And about 30 minutes later, I looked up and they were walking down the hall. And we just ran to each other.”

Las Vegas Shooting: Rick Baughman

From my notes:  “Jason Aldean, who was performing on stage in Las Vegas at the time of the shooting, says he and his band are canceling their upcoming shows this weekend out of respect for the victims and survivors of thw attack.”

Denver-area resident Rick Baughman will always know how close he came to being among those killed during the music festival in Las Vegas. His room pass became the key to his survival.

“You knew that you were inches away from not being here. It sounded like short fireworks kind of thing. And [Jason Aldean] does do that. But it just wasn’t at the right time, but still not thinking anything, right? But why would you?

Then when the real round came off. I was watching the stage and you could see him stop and look at his band. The lights went off. That’s when… just chaos just, broke out. I start running. I just ran and ran. People are falling everywhere. I lose my group immediately. You hear another round start going off and people were jumping over porta-johns, over fences. I broke down a fence and just started running with a group of people as fast as we could.

The girl next to me was laying on the ground and got shot. I picked her up with another fella and we got her to a tent. I felt a tug at my shorts and didn’t think anything of it. We put a table up to barricade ourselves from where we thought the shots were coming from. Then they stopped for a while, and so I made a run for it.

It wasn’t until later I saw that I’d been grazed by a bullet. It went through my cargo shorts and my wallet, my credit cards, even my hotel room key. It could have been much worse.

It was terrifying, such mayhem you just don’t know what to do or where to go. It’s just surreal. I hope no one has to go through it again. I am just thankful to be alive, and happy, and to be with my people. I just wish the best for everyone affected by this.”

Las Vegas Shooting: Nevada State Trooper Travis Smaka

From my notes: “Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt has postponed plans to announce his candidacy for governor in the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas.”

Sunday night, Nevada State Trooper Travis Smaka’s life changed forever. Sitting down for his shift briefing, the call came through on the radio saying there was a shooting at the Mandalay.

“[The] Sergeant told us to go and we were literally in a sprint.”

As he worked to shut down I-15 highway, he saw a vehicle flashing its lights, flagged him down.

“The female passenger started telling me they had people dying. I looked in the bed and I just saw bodies lying on bodies and they were severely injured there was no doubt about that.”

He escorted them as quickly as he could to the hospital.

“When I got to trauma center that is when it occurred to me how catastrophic this was, when they were treating people in the parking lot. I mean they were swarmed with catastrophic injuries.”

On the way to complete his original assignment, another trooper flagged him down — he too was escorting a pick up truck with people in the back.

“That is one that is haunting me. It was a man and a wife and the wife was literally missing the back of her head. He was holding her and I felt so bad for this man because she was gone and just looking at this man thinking his world will never be the same.

That is something that is weighing heavily on my heart because I didn’t want to lose anybody on my watch. I can’t un-see some of the things I saw that night and un-hear the pain and agony people were in. It is going to stay with me the rest of my days.”

Las Vegas Shooting: Former Pussycat Doll Kaya Jones

From my notes:  “Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw predictably claims, “Well, I think this is time for a national dialogue that we can have in a calm and reasoned way in which the country can figure out how come we have so many mass shootings in this country.””

Former Pussycat Dolls member Kaya Jones performed at the music festival in Vegas earlier Sunday evening. Then she became one of those taking cover, wishing she had the means to fight back as she sought safety in a nearby bar.

She’s now speaking out: “All of us in that moment wished we’d had a gun, because in our head was ‘someone could come through that door and we only have seven rounds in that gun. That’s the truth.

“It’s horrible to hear people politicize something that is a travesty. There are innocent people that are dead. Let’s make it about them now. What can we do to prevent this again? Make it about this crazy lunatic that’s followed an ideology, that’s crept its way into our planet, that’s sympathized from the left all the time, to a point where it’s nonsense and foolishness now.

Less guns don’t equal less terrorists. And I’m going to keep saying that until everyone understands: We can take away guns. If you have a madman, he’ll use a car as we’ve seen, or a knife as we’ve seen, or a bomb as we’ve seen. This is what terror is. It doesn’t come in the form of a gun. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.

Mandalay Bay was sold out. This was really, really well-planned. This is premeditated. Sold out weeks in advance – he knew which room he wanted, he knew what angle, all of the above, because there’s no way he just got that room last-minute. He methodically thought this out.

For every entertainer, it was just gut-wrenching because the whole point in what we do is to unite people, to bring people together, to get them away from their pain at home. Every single performer feels responsibility in some way for the tragedy.

We need to unify. We need to always unify. This is the United States. We need to be united, not divided. We need to not allow — whether it’s foreign or domestic terrorism – the right to think that they can smile over us and say, ‘We got ’em.’ You don’t. You’re not going to break the United States.”

Las Vegas Shooting: Mandalay Security Officer Jesus Campos

From my notes:  “AP News reports the Las Vegas murderer had two “bump-stocks” that could have converted semi-automatic firearms into fully automatic ones. They also had to point out that California Senator Dianne Fienstien has been ‘railing against’ bump-stocks.”

Security officer Jesus Campos had been in the building, patrolling the halls and was sent to an area on reports of an unknown disturbance. When he got to the 32nd floor, Campos found the stairwells had been barricaded and used the elevator to investigate.

When Campos approached the suite, he was shot in the upper right thigh through the door. He crawled back to elevators and radioed the Mandalay’s security dispatch giving the police the shooter’s exact room.

Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo credits Campo with providing enough diversionary time to save not only officers, guests, but to force the murderer to turn his attention to something other than shooting concert-goers.

“His bravery was amazing because he remained with our officers, providing them the key pass to access the door and continued to help them clear rooms until our officers demanded he seek medical attention.”

Las Vegas Shooting: Jan Lambourne and Justin Uhart

From my notes:  “Esquire columnist Charles Pierce claims the shooting in Las Vegas is, “The massacre of country music fans is….the 273rd blood sacrifice to that one provision of the Constitution this year.” He also blames the massacre on gun owners, Wayne LaPierre, Donald Trump and Christians.”

On Sunday night in Las Vegas, Justin Uhart met Jan Lambourne. Both were at the music festival when a gunman opened fire and now Lambourne is recovering from a gunshot wound, while Uhart is being called a hero.

“He was amazing. The last time I seen him was when they took me in for surgery. He saved my life.”

Uhart was working the festival as a bartender to make some extra cash when the gunfire started, “Get the f— out and run! This is real! Get out!”

Running for cover, he saw a woman screaming for help and he ran towards her. It was Jan. Asked later what made him run towards Lambourne, despite the gunfire surrounding them both, he explained: “Her eyes were filled with terror and tears, looking at me like, ‘Help me.’ I was doing everything I could. I didn’t know what else to do.”

He found another first responder. Together they got Lambourne into an ambulance. There Uhart met a distraught young man whose his hip had been shattered by a bullet and started talking to him as well, trying anything and everything to calm him.

“The doctors and nurses were telling me, ‘Just keep talking. Just keep talking.'”

As she was being taken into surgery, Lambourne handed Uhart her cellphone, asking him to call her husband, Joseph. Uhart dialed the number. Joseph answered.

“You can’t just run away, I had to help. I had to do something.”

Las Vegas Shooting: Anthony Chavez

From my notes:  “Hayley Geftman-Gold is an attorney for CBS. She tweeted that she was “not even sympathetic” to the the Las Vegas shooting victims because “country music fans often are Republican.””

Anthony Chavez was simply known as the “hero in the red hat,” He he would have remained unknown if Larry Rorick hadn’t searched him out.

“[He] got our wives over the gate and under the stage to relative safety. He didn’t follow the girls after tossing them over the gate, because in the chaos he couldn’t find his girlfriend.

He didn’t follow them over because he had to find his own girl.

Our wives eventually made it out the back of the stage and over a 15 foot fence with about 40 people of the 22,000. They never saw the red hat again.

We had been looking for that couple. I had been thinking about them all morning and all night.”

From his point of view Chavez says, “Everybody had a delayed reaction. They didn’t know if it was gunfire or fireworks. They hit the ground. I couldn’t get down on the floor there was nowhere for me to go. The gunfire was coming right over my shoulder.”

To his right, Chavez saw a girl covered in blood, “She was in shock, looking at her hands. So, I said, ‘OK, let’s go jump the fence.’ [Then] I ran into a lady who was leaning up against a pole. She was just giving up. I was like, ‘Nope. Come on. Let’s go. We have to go — do not stop!’

For an hour, Chavez stood in the middle of the street, directing people where to go, “I was yelling the whole time. I lost my voice. I sounded like a drill instructor. I wasn’t shaking. I wasn’t scared. I don’t know what made me stay and do that.

Honestly, I didn’t do much. I helped people get to a point where they could get to safety. I had that mindset. With how chaotic it was, somebody just needed to be in charge.”

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

It’s amazing the odd thought that pops into one’s head in the moment of crisis. That’s what happened to me as I sped west on Interstate 80 at 70-plus miles per hour and my left rear tire came apart.

Flicking on my turn signal to change from the right to the left lane, I stepped down on the gas pedal to pass the pick-up truck ahead of me as it was moving slower at 65 miles an hour. Suddenly it sounded as if some one had dropped an M-80 into the bed of my truck and with it came a violent tug and hard jerk to the left, towards the center lane wall.

Somehow, I managed to gain control of my vehicle and keep from slamming into the concrete barrier. Happily, the driver of the truck I’d been passing realized something bad had happened and slowed enough to allow me to dart in front of him and quickly into a gravel pull-off.

The rest of my day became about changing the tire, limping to the tire shop, arguing over the warranty, and then having to spend $178 for the replacement.  In the end, I walked away from what could have been a nasty, life altering crash, so I’m counting my blessings.

However, in those few seconds back on the road, it wasn’t my possible death that I thought of, nor did my life flash before my eyes. Rather it was the image of the woman, to whom less than an hour before I’d given first-aid as she stroked-out while standing in line at the post office.

“I wonder how she’s doing?” I weirdly recall asking myself.

Las Vegas Shooting: Taylor Winston

From my notes: “Someone claims that Marilou Danley is a regular at the Atlantis, in Reno, and works there as hostess. Not since early August she hasn’t. Facts are a horrible thing.”

Taylor Winston, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran from San Diego, was among friends in Las Vegas Sunday night when a gunman opened fire on the audience. After climbing a security fence, Winston checked nearby trucks for keys.

“I saw a field with a bunch of white trucks. I tested my luck to see if any of them had keys in it, first one we tried opening had keys sitting right there.

I started looking for people to take to the hospital. There was just too many and it was overwhelming how much blood was everywhere.”

Winston looked for victims with the most serious injuries first, loaded them into the truck bed and drove them to the hospital, making two trips before ambulances arrived.

According to Winston, “There was a lot of bravery and courageous people out there. I’m glad that I could call them my country folk. There’s a lot of unsung heroes that day that stood up and helped people.”

Winston also said he was able to return the keys to the owner of the truck on Monday night.

Las Vegas Shooting: Jonathan Smith

From my notes: “President Trump and the first lady will visit a hospital in Las Vegas to meet with shooting survivors, first responders and other medical professionals.”

Jonathan Smith saved at least 30 people before being shot in the neck during the Las Vegas mass-shooting. He had driven to Las Vegas from Orange County, California to celebrate the his brother’s birthday.

“Active shooter, active shooter, let’s go! We have to run.” Smith then destroyed a locked security gate and “formed a human chain” in order to lead the group to safety.

“[Then] I ran back towards the shooting. You could hear the shots. It sounded like it was coming from all over Las Vegas Boulevard. I got a few people out of there.”

About getting shot: “I couldn’t feel anything in my neck. There was a warm sensation in my arm. I really didn’t want to die.”

Smith believes an off-duty San Diego police officer saved his life. The officer came over and stopped the bleeding and then flagged down a passing pickup truck stopped where he was placed along with several other wounded victims.

“I don’t deem myself as a hero. I would want someone to do the same for me. No one deserves to lose a life coming to a country festival. I just deem myself as someone that was doing the right thing.”

Las Vegas Shooting: Mikkena Parry

From my notes: “VP Mike Pence donated blood ‘to raise awareness for those in need in Las Vegas.’ Pence says it was “inspiring to see others donating blood in Arizona to help those hurt” in the shooting.”

Las Vegan Mikkena Parry is recovering from a gunshot to the left arm that had traveled to her abdomen. She says complete strangers put her in the back of a pickup truck so she could be taken to the hospital.

“I remember my boyfriend going in to get somebody. [The driver] only had a two-seater truck so I was laying in the bed with his girlfriend and my boyfriend.”

She adds that she still couldn’t shake the memories from that night, “I don’t know, like, it still kind of hasn’t fully hit me.”

Las Vegas: Sheldon Mack

From my notes:  “The Las Vegas shooter didn’t commit suicide as being reported. He was killed by officer’s who breached his room using explosives. They also found Antifa literature in that room.”

Sheldon Mack, of Victoria, British Columbia, says the mass-shooting in Las Vegas continues to play “like a bad nightmare” he can’t wake up from. He was there, celebrating his birthday.

“It just kind of all happened so fast. It seems surreal. But, I just keep seeing it in my mind still and it just haunts me. I saw a girl like two rows ahead of me and she got hit in the neck and then went down. I had my buddy get hit in the backside.

“We were just kind of looking for shelter and safety and then I saw a girl got hit in her leg so I helped her back up and then as I was kind of guiding her, I got hit in my elbow and midsection. I was kind of bleeding pretty good.

[A stranger, who] wouldn’t leave my side, saved my life. I really appreciate all he’s done for me. I think he got shot in the leg as well but he was so occupied with helping me out and helping others that he put it aside.”

Las Vegas Shooting: Paige Melanson and Don Matthews

From my notes: “LVMPD officers ordered to shut off body cam’s while reponding to shooting.”

Miss Las Vegas 2016 got the chance to thank the retired firefighter who saved her, her mother, her sister and two girlfriends during the Las Vegas shooting Sunday night. She also describes how everthing unfolded for her.

“My mother is alive because of you,” Paige Melanson, who was Miss Las Vegas 2016, said to retired Los Angeles firefighter, Don Matthews as she explained what happened.

“I don’t know if I was pushed to the floor or everybody just started falling over, but everybody got down and I was facing away from my mom. So by the time I turned around to gather and see who was around me, I had realized my mom wasn’t just laying there like we were.

She was still and her face was face down in the grass, and so we had known something was wrong. [Matthews] told us that we have to go if we wanted to live, that we needed to go and save ourselves.

And the fact that he was a retired firefighter, he was trained to help people, and he promised us that if we left that he would stay with my mom. I looked into his eyes and he said, ‘You need to go.’

[After getting to safety,] “I saw that I was covered in blood. So my first reaction was, ‘Where’s it coming from?’ And I looked over and I saw the flap over my skin and I kind of had just exploded.

There was blood all over my legs, dripping all the way down my arms that was everywhere, and I didn’t care because the second I saw my mom…I didn’t feel my arm at all.

[Matthews] put his own life at risk. He didn’t have to this.”

Las Vegas Shooting: Derek Cecil

From my notes:  “FBI stats show that only three crimes using an automatic weapon have been committed since 1934.”

A retired Reno police officer is one of the many off-duty and former first responders who immediately sprang into action to help save strangers in Las Vegas Sunday night. The Army National Guard flight medic and longtime Reno police officer Derek Cecil explains what happened when the gunfire began and after he escorted [his friend’s] to a safe location.

“‘You guys go to safety in the aid station, I’m going back in. Do not come back with me.’ And that’s all I said. I turned around and I went back in.

“We were getting splash of glass and metal flakes from the bullets hitting and ricocheting off the trailer, hitting us in the face, hitting us in the arms. There were people on the ground screaming for help and bleeding. There were people on the ground not moving at all.

When the shooting finally stopped, Cecil thought he’d avoided the bullets, until he pulled out his phone. Two bullet fragments had shattered the glass on his cellphone.

“One of them…could’ve possibly penetrated into my lower abdomen on the left side had the phone not stopped it from going through.

“Other people come before me and I’ll do anything I can to help someone in need. Whatever that may be.”

He suffered only minor injuries in his right arm from bullet fragments. Cecil survived a crash in June 1991, that left him in coma for nearly a week, after he struck a vehicle during a motocycle pursuit.

Las Vegas Shooting: Renee Cesario and Brendan Kelly

From my notes:  “ISIS is claiming responsibilty for the Las Vegas mass shooting.”

Twenty-three year old Renee Cesario describes how 21-year-old U.S. Marine Brendan Kelly saved her life in the opening moments of gunfire in Las Vegas, on Sunday night.

“Brendan and I met only 2 hours before the Jason Aldean show. I left my friends so we could go up super close to the front for the end of the night.

We were just dancing and having fun and then all of the sudden there were loud noises that sounded like fireworks, but no lights were going off. It stopped, and Jason Aldean kept playing but then the shots fired again and he ran off the stage.

Before I knew what was going on, Brendan tackled me down to the ground and covered me from the fire. It stopped again and he looked around to see what was happening and then it just kept going.

He looked at me and said ‘We have to get out of here. We can’t stay here. It’s not safe.’ Then he pulled my arm up to get me out of the piles of people. We had no idea who was dead or who was alive. We just started to run.

He kept telling me it was going to be okay and to keep running until we were safe. He even let me use his phone to stay in touch with my sister. The whole night he didn’t leave my side.”

Sharks

There are sharks in this damn water
But I’m the striped tiger, beyond king.
Fuck with me and I’ll drown you
And your progeny’s coming progeny.

Perhaps I’m nothing more than drunk,
Ten feet tall, bullet proof, pissed off
Don’t know exactly why, but then — hey
I don’t think I need a reason, do I now.

Maybe it’s a lack of family, friends,
A lack of social grace or company.
Perhaps I need to get laid real hard,
But what can’t get up, can’t get out.

The usual suspects are all lined up,
Ready to have the shit-crap slapped
From their stupid-assed mug-faces,
But my mug – it stands alone — empty.

So swim at me sharks, come for a bite
But be warned I bite the fuck back, so
Give me another two-fingers of whiskey
Let me wash it down with blood n’ beer.

Las Vegas Shooting: Taylor Benge

From my notes:  “I think the reason Obama’s keeping his mouth shut is because of the ‘Bump Stock,’ police found in the shooters room, a piece of shooting equiptment he approved as president.” 

When Taylor Benge went to the Route 91 Festival in Las Vegas on Sunday, an agnostic. He left a Believer:

“I was agnostic going into that concert and I’m a firm believer in God now. Because there’s no way that all of that happened and that I made it and I was blessed enough to still be here alive talking to you today.

My sister and I, we started running to the left and every time they shot, we took cover. My sister, being as noble as she, she actually threw herself on top of me and was saying, ‘I love you Taylor, I love you.’

And I’ll never forget that.

[I] didn’t know we were safe until we were sitting in McCarran [airport,] one of their hangars almost — a car almost ran through the gate to get on the runway just to get away from that location. I saw a bunch of people trying to help.

Unfortunately, I also saw a lot of loved ones with their significant others holding them as they passed.”

His sister survived.

Las Vegas Shooting: Heather Gooze

From my notes: “All but three of the 59 people killed in the mass shooting in the Las Vegas have been identified.”

Survivor Heather Gooze was working as bartender when the shooting started, but she risked her life to stay at the side of the dying Jordan McIldoon. She describes the situation:

“You could hear everyone shouting, ‘Shooter, shooter,’ This was legitimate terror. There was a moment where you’re like, ‘I don’t know what to do.’

And then you’re like, ‘All right, go.’ I put my hand on the arm of the guy that was laying there. We brought him over to the sidewalk and we lay him down.”

[His] fingers kind of squeezed then just stopped. Like you don’t have to be a doctor to know. I promised his girlfriend that I would not leave him. That I would make sure that she knew where he was going to be going to. What was going to happen. That they knew who he was.

“She said, ‘Is he hurt?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ She said, ‘Be honest with me, tell me, is he OK?’ And I said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘He’s passed away; he’s dead.’

I kept thinking about, ‘If this was me would people stay with me? Would they make sure I was OK? Would they contact my family?’

I couldn’t go.”

Las Vegas Shooting: Big & Rich’s John Rich

From my notes: “No, the Vegas muderers’ real name isn’t in my lexicon and I refuse to ever mention it again.” 

Country music star John Rich, one half of the duo Big & Rich, was at a bar in Las Vegas when a gunman began murdering people at the country music festival. He reveals:

“I had an off-duty police officer, it was a Minneapolis police officer, off-duty, was in my bar hanging out. He came up to me and showed me his badge, and he says… ‘I’m [a police] officer and I’m not armed for the first time ever. I can’t believe it. Are you armed?’

I said yes I am armed. I [have] my concealed carry.

He asked, ‘can I have your firearm so I can hold point on this door?’

So I handed over my firearm to him, everybody got behind him and for two hours he held point on that door without flinching.”