There’s a common thread that will forever hold the 58 victims of the Route 91 Harvest Festival together. Live country music. It’s the reason why nearly all of the 36 women and 22 men were there in Las Vegas on the night of the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. And today (Oct. 18), we honor these 58 by remembering not just how they died, but rather, how they lived.
Whether it was 20-year-olds Angela Gomez, Bailey Schweitzer and Quinton Robbins, or 67-year-old Pati Mestas, or all the souls in between, the love of Nashville’s music is what connected fans of every age on the festival grounds that night. Before the gunfire started, it’s likely that all 58 — no matter how far apart they might’ve been standing in the crowd — were singing along with Jason Aldean.
Tonight’s 2017 CMT Artists of the Year ceremony will become a night of heartfelt messages and fan tributes from honorees Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban. The 90-minute special airing live at 8 p.m. ET will be devoted to lifting country fans up with music that brings healing and hope to the victims’ families and to the entire country music community.
Ahlers is remembered by those who love her as a devoted mother who loved running her children around from soccer practice to school events. In her Las Vegas Review-Journal tribute, her father-in-law Dave Ahlers described Hannah as a “young Mary Tyler Moore.” “She could have lit the world up with her smile,” he said. Hannah was a lover of the outdoors and part of the skydiving community in her home state. She and her husband Brian Ahlers were married for 16 years. They were parents of three children in ages 3, 11 and 14. The couple attended the festival with three other couples.
Heather Lorraine Alvarado, 35
Alvarado’s cousin, Chantel Ortega, told Nashville’s WKRN-TV that the 35-year-old mother of three was the most incredible mom and described her as “silly, sarcastic, funny and loving.” Her family was her main priority in life, and she loved fishing, camping and supporting her children in their sporting events. Alvarado died shielding her 14-year-old daughter from gunfire. She is survived by her husband of 15 years, Albert Alvarado; their three children Syrus, Albie and Charlie; and her parents Michael and Dolores Warino. Ortega said, “She lived out what every parent would desire to do for their child, or how people will say ’I will protect you with my life.’ That was her story. That is the legacy she is leaving behind.”
Dorene Anderson, 49
In a Facebook post from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, her husband John’s employer, Anderson is remembered as, “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.” Anderson had traveled from Alaska to attend the Route 91 Harvest music festival.
Carrie Rae Barnette, 34
Garden Grove, CA
Barnette worked at “the happiest place on earth,” the Disney company in California. Disney’s chairman, Robert Iger, said that she was beloved by her friends and colleagues. Her mother described her as a, “beautiful child who loved her work and was always generous with her time with her family.” She was in Las Vegas to celebrate a friend’s 30th birthday.
Jack Reginald Beaton, Jr., 54
Beaton adored his wife Laurie, and their son Jake and their daughter Delaney. Beaton dedicated his time to supporting his children in their schooling, friendships and activities. According to the Bakersfield Californian, his “devotion to his wife Laurie was obvious; the mutual respect they showed each other was a great example to all who knew them.” Beaton saved his wife’s life when he shielded her from gunfire. The couple were celebrating their 23rd wedding anniversary with friends. He was described by their two children as their “best friend and a true hero for saving their mom.”
Steve Berger, 44
Berger’s father, Richard Berger, told the Las Vegas-Review Journal that his son lived for his family, loved to work and was an avid fisherman. He worked as a financial planner in Minneapolis where he raised three children, Hannah, 15, Harrison, 11, and Harlow, 8. “He was so devoted to his family and his children,” his father said. He added that his son was smart and that he’ll miss talking to him about stocks. Steve was at the festival celebrating his 44th birthday, which was on Sept. 30.
Candice Bowers, 40
Garden Grove, CA
Bowers is eulogized in the Washington Post as “a tough-minded single mother of three with a loud, infectious laugh.” She had just completed a two-year process to adopt a two-year-old daughter while raising a 20-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son. “She had a bit of a rough upbringing, but as soon as babies came into her life she stepped up and stepped forward and never looked back,” her aunt, Michelle Bolks, said. “She did this all by herself and took this little one in and was doing it again.” Bowers worked as a waitress and was taking some much-needed time off to see Jason Aldean, one of her favorite country singers.
Denise Burditus, 50
Burditus’ husband, Tony, told WSAZ-TV in Charleston, WV that he wanted the world to know that his wife brought out the best in him and everyone around her. “Every day got better,” he said. “I am telling everyone that [in our] 32 years [together], every day got better. It never ended; it just got better every day.” They were at the festival to see some of his wife’s favorite artists, among them Jake Owen and Jason Aldean. They had attended last year’s festival and had plans to return next year. Burditus was in her second year of college for business after having spent decades as a bank employee. The couple have two children and their fifth grandchild is due to arrive in February. “She was an amazing woman and just powered through it all,” Tony Burditus said.
Sandra Casey, 34
Redondo Beach, CA
Casey, a native of Dorset, Vermont had been working as a special education teacher for the Manhattan Beach Unified School District for nine years. At a candlelight vigil to honor her memory, superintendent Mike Matthews remembered Casey as “the person who everyone wanted to be around,” and that she was “a relentless advocate for her students and colleagues.” Another colleague wrote of Casey, “Her door was like her heart — always open for anyone who needed advice or a good laugh.”
Andrea Lee Anna Castilla, 28
Huntington Beach, CA
As a makeup artist with Sephora, Castilla had the rare talent to take any face and make it into a work of art with a set of brushes and the right color palette. According to her obituary, makeup was more than just a job to her. She had ambitions to use her talents to serve cancer patients. Castilla was at the festival celebrating her 28th birthday with her boyfriend, Derek Miller, her sister, Athena, and their friend Shane Armstrong. According to People, Miller planned to propose to Castilla that weekend.
Denise Cohen, 58
Santa Barbara, CA
Cohen’s sister-in-law, Kelli Gentile, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that to Cohen country music was life. “She loved concerts, period,” Gentile said. “She loved music, but I know she was beyond thrilled to be able to see Jason Aldean … We joke that Denise loved to travel light and live life to the largest. She just did everything with a smile and a gusto and just went for it.” Cohen was attending the festival with her boyfriend Derrick “Bo” Taylor, 56. Both were killed in the shooting.
Austin Davis, 29
Family was everything to Davis, a journeyman pipefitter with UA Local 364. He and his father Gary were best friends who did everything together: fish, play catch and watch sports. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, they even worked together from time to time on construction jobs. Davis’ girlfriend of nine years, Aubree Hennigan, eulogized him on Facebook, saying, “Through each and every day no matter what, you always made me smile in one way or another … You are my heart, my soul, my everything. I will love you and cherish everything you gave me until my dying day.”
Thomas Day, Jr., 54
Day, an estimator with his family’s construction business, was one of the most loyal country music and sports fans ever. He had a Pittsburgh Steelers tattoo on his leg, and every year he would attend the annual Stagecoach music festival with his adult children. His family was his life. They would attend sporting events together and he loved boating with them on the Colorado River. Day was at the festival with his father and his four daughters when he was fatally shot. A colleague told the Orange County Register: “He’s going to be a hard void to fill. He was so well-liked and enjoyable to be around.”
Christiana Duarte, 22
Following in her family’s passion for athletics, Duarte had just graduated from the University of Arizona, where she studied sports marketing. According to USA Today, she had just landed her first job with the Los Angeles Kings hockey team. Her brother, Mikey Duarte, is a minor league baseball player with the Great Falls Voyagers. Her cousin Gerald Laird, is a former MLB catcher. Her cousin, Brandon Laird, is a former New York Yankee who is currently playing professionally in Japan. Danette Myers, a family spokesperson, described Christiana to the Las Vegas Review-Journal as having a beautiful singing voice and a bubbly personality. Christiana was attending the festival with her brother’s girlfriend Ariel Romero, who was wounded.
Stacee Etcheber, 50
San Francisco, CA
Etcheber is remembered by those who love her as a consummate cowgirl who put her whole being into everything she did, whether it was decorating the family home for the holidays or attending to her clients as a hairstylist. Her husband of 13 years, Vincent Etcheber, remembered his wife as a loving and enthusiastic woman who, “gave more than she ever received.” Her family believes Etcheber died helping others. Her husband, a police officer, told her to run while he stopped to aid the wounded. According to SF Gate, she wouldn’t have been able to leave while others needed help.
Brian Fraser, 39
La Palma, CA
Fraser was a dedicated father of four children who range in ages from four to 25. His oldest, Nicholas Arellano, is a son from his wife’s first marriage. “He was my mentor,” Arellano said in a eulogy at a candlelight vigil for Fraser. “He showed me what being a real man is.” Said Arellano’s wife, Vanessa, “If you could have met him, you would have loved him. He was loud and funny and smart and opinionated. And he could do anything. He flew a plane, he rode dirt bikes — I mean, anything.” According to the Orange County Register, Fraser was employed as vice president of sales at Greenpath, a Southern California mortgage company. Fraser caravanned to the festival with 31 friends and family members. He was fatally shot as he weaved his way through the crowd with his wife, Stephanie, to get a closer look at Jason Aldean. No one else in his group was seriously injured. That same crew wore the matching custom t-shirts to Fraser’s vigil that they had worn at the concert. The shirts read “Aldean’s Army” on a camouflage background.
Keri Galvan, 31
Thousand Oaks, CA
Eulogized in the Las Vegas Review-Journal as a “hard-working supermom,” Galvan was raising three kids ranging in ages two to 10 with her husband, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. She was always chauffeuring their children to practices and appointments while working a full-time job at Mastro’s Steakhouse in Thousand Oaks. Her sister, Lindsey Poole, described Galvan as a best friend, a role model and “the most protective big sister you could ever imagine.” This was Galvan’s second trip to the festival event. “She was really excited to see Jason Aldean because, unfortunately, she’d never seen him before,” Poole said.
Dana Leann Gardner, 52
San Bernardino, CA
Gardner was a devoted mother of a daughter, Kayla Gardner and two sons and a longtime employee of the San Bernardino County Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk’s office, where she worked as a deputy recorder. “Our mom was an amazing human being and she stood for everything good in the world,” her daughter said in a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “She had a contagious smile that would light up a room and a sense of humor that would make everyone laugh.” Gardner was at the festival with 15 friends and family. The trip was arranged by her hometown friend, Eric Templeton. At least four of Gardner’s coworkers, including a sergeant in the county sheriff’s office and a fire department employee, were also wounded in the attack.
Angela Gomez, 20
Gomez was in her third year at Riverside City College and had just become a certified nursing assistant. Her tribute in the Las Vegas Review-Journal said she had started working at a local hospital while finishing her degree. But family came first for her. She is remembered by her parents as a cheerful, easygoing young lady who always lit up the room. Her four older brothers and sisters looked out for her as the baby of the family. “She was just a good girl,” her mother Julie Gomez said, “a very good child who always did the right thing.” Angela was also a volunteer at a local children’s theater in Riverside and was a beloved aunt to her two nieces in nephews. This was Gomez’s first trip to Las Vegas. She was attending the festival with her high school sweetheart and boyfriend, Ethan Sanchez. “The last few days she had on earth, she loved it,” he said. “Every single minute of it. From Friday to Sunday.”
Rocio Guillen Rocha, 40
Guillen Rocha is remembered by those who love her as a supermom, whose greatest accomplishment was raising four children. Her youngest was one-month-old Austin. Her oldest, Marcus, 18, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that she became paralyzed after giving birth to his younger brother, Christopher, 13. Although she was told she would never walk again, she was a “fighter” who proved her doctors wrong. Guillen Rocha was still on maternity leave from her job as an assistant manager at a California Pizza Kitchen when she attended the festival. Although she escaped the scene with her fiancé, Chris Jashka, she later died from a gunshot wound sustained in the attack.
Charleston Hartfield, 34
Hartfield, a Las Vegas police officer and an accomplished Nevada Army National Guard sergeant first class, was a loving father of two and a devoted husband, according to CNN. A published author, Hartfield’s first book Memoirs of a Public Servant documents the thoughts, feelings and interactions during his time on the force. Hartifeld also coached the Henderson Cowboys youth football program. “He led his life with honor, dignity and a great capacity for others,” a longtime coworker said. Hartfield was off duty while attending the festival. Hours before he was killed by gunfire, he had updated his Facebook cover with a picture from the event.
Chris Hazencomb, 44
Hazencomb had just celebrated his 44th birthday with his mother Maryanne Hazencomb, days before attending the festival with a longtime friend from Las Vegas, whom he saved from getting killed. She told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he loved people and was a happy-go-lucky person with a big heart. He also followed auto racing and was a longtime fan of the Los Angeles Angels. He was a fan of Jason Aldean and had attended the Route 91 festival before. Hazencomb worked as a cashier at a Neighborhood Walmart in Camarillo. A coworker said, “There isn’t anything he wouldn’t do for a friend or a coworker.”
Jennifer Topaz Irvine, 42
San Diego, CA
Irvine was a family law and criminal defense attorney who ran her own law firm in San Diego. “She was always enthusiastic and wonderful,” her publicist Jay Jones tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “She was optimistic about life. She was a bright ray of light.” Outside the courtroom, she had a variety of interests. She earned a black-belt in Taekwondo, enjoyed practicing hot yoga and was an avid snowboarder.
Teresa Nicol Kimura, 38
Kimura preferred to go by her middle name, Nicol. On a GoFundMe online fundraiser for her family, her friend Ryan Miller writes, “Nicol’s heart was bigger than most human beings, her spirit was beautiful, her laugh was infectious, and she just had a way of making every time we gathered an awesome one. She made you jealous of how much she loved life.” According to USA Today, Kimura worked for the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration in Irvine. She had traveled to the festival with six friends. Before her untimely death, Miller caught her on camera dancing and singing to Brothers Obsorne’s latest hit “It Ain’t My Fault” during the band’s Sept. 29 set.
Jessica Klymhcuk, 34
A mother of four, Klymchuck dedicated her life to making a difference in her community every day. At the St. Stephen’s Catholic School where she worked, she did a little bit of everything. She was a bus driver, an educational assistant and the school’s librarian. Several of her students at a candlelight vigil to honor memory remembered their teacher as kind and sweet and “the most awesome” instructor ever. According to the CBC, Klymchuk was attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival with her fiancé, Brent Irla. Her favorite country songs played at the vigil.
Carly Anne Kreibaum, 33
In Iowa’s Sutherland community of 600 people, Kreibaum is remembered by everyone as a devoted wife to her husband, Chris, and loving mother of their two children Dalten and Cambri. In her obituary, she is remembered as having “a really big heart, [who was] everybody’s mom, always caring for everyone else.” She loved to paint and make pottery. She was an excellent cook and loved baking and cake decorating. Home was their family farm located a few miles outside of town. She was attending Route 91 in Las Vegas with two friends. The last photo of them together posted on Facebook was taken at the Venetian.
Rhonda LeRocque, 42
Friends of LeRocque remember her as being “everything to everyone.” According to the Boston Herald, she was a loving mother and a devoted Jehovah’s Witness who grew up around Lowell, ME. She met her husband, Jason LeRocque, at a Kingdom Hall in Billerica. She enjoyed baking, cooking and apple picking. “Rhonda was the center of our universe, beautiful, talented and a person who made all around her feel welcome and loved,” her husband said in a statement. The family had attended earlier Route 91 Harvest festivals. Her father-in-law was watching their daughter at their hotel room while they were attending Aldean’s concert on the night of the shooting. More than 1,000 people attended Rhonda’s memorial at a local Tewksbury high school.
Victor L. Link, 55
Aliso Viejo, CA
Link is remembered by those who love him as an extraordinary man who had an infectious positive attitude that always lifted the spirits of everyone around him. He is survived by his fiancée, Lynne Gonzales, son Christian Link, father Loyd Link and siblings Craig Link, Vincent Link and Lisa Heistand. His profession was in the mortgage industry. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Link was attending the festival with his fiancée and his longtime friends, Rob and Lesley Wedlock. His son Christian eulogized his father on Facebook saying, “I could type for hours saying how great of a man you were and how everyone loves you so so much … I just want to tell you how much I love you and I’m going to do all the things that we talked about but this time I’m actually going to do it!”
Jordan McIldoon, 23
Maple Ridge, British Columbia
In an emotional statement, McIldoon’s parents, Alan and Angela McIldoon, described their only son as a “young man who lived a life full of adventures.” “He was fearless,” they said, adding that a love of the outdoors was born within him. He was an avid BMX rider and a talented downhill mountain biker. He loved riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle and driving his big diesel truck. “He loved NASCAR and country music and was rarely seen out of his cowboy boots,” his parents said. McIldoon was attending the festival with his girlfriend Amber. “Jordan did his best to make sure Amber was safe,” his parents statement continued, “and we know he would have helped others had he not been injured himself.”
Kelsey Meadows, 28
At the time of her death, Meadows had returned to her own high school to become a substitute teacher. The principal of the school said, “Kelsey was smart, compassionate and kind. She had a sweet spirit and a love for children. Words cannot adequately capture the sorrow felt by her students, colleagues and friends in learning of her passing.” Her uncle echoed that sentiment, noting, “She was quiet on the words, but if you look at any picture she was in, she always had a big smile.” Meadows is survived by her mother and father, her brother and sister-in-law.
Calla-Marie Medig, 28
This year was Medig’s third at the festival. She was there with her roommate when the deadly shooting started. Before she left for Las Vegas, Medig had explained to her boss — who had just given her a promotion — that she would need time off for the three days of the country music she loved. It was not just a fleeting obsession, but rather a priority for her. Facebook posts and messages reveal that some of Medig’s favorite singers were Shania Twain, Kip Moore, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, and Eric Church, who headlined the festival just two nights before the tragedy. Other posts described Medig as kind, warm-hearted, and remarked that she had a beautiful soul.
James ”Sonny” Melton, 29
Big Sandy, TN
Melton, a registered nurse in Tennessee, was at the festival with his wife Heather. He’d even checked in on Facebook on the Friday (Sept. 29) before the shooting so everyone would know they were there. Additional posts on Melton’s page show how much country music meant to him. One from a few months ago was a link to George Strait’s 1982 “Marina Del Rey,” and another showed Melton and his wife in matching Eric Church t-shirts. In the tribute video in his official obituary, the background music is Church’s 2009 ballad, “Love Your Love the Most.” Melton’s wife told CNN that they were at the show to see Church, because he was her husband’s “guy.” “I want everyone to know what a kind-hearted, loving man he was, but at this point, I can barely breathe,” Melton’s wife told the press. A former professor described Melton this way: “You know how when you met someone and you just know that they’re good and kind? That was Sonny. He just had a sweet, kind spirit about him.” In addition to his wife, Melton is survived by his parents, his brother and three step children.
Pati Mestas, 67
At the festival, Mestas and her friends had worked their way up to the front of the stage in the general admission, standing-room-only crowd in order to get close to Jason Aldean, one of her favorite singers. Live country music was such a big part of her life that she’d become one of the Go Girls, a group of fans of radio station Go Country 105 who traveled to shows together. Mestas’ son once described their house as “the one blasting country music,” and he wrote on Facebook that she’d spent her final moments in a perfect place. “She left this world surrounded by friends, singing and dancing with thousands of people. If I had to write the script myself, I could not have done a better job,” he posted. One of her cousins described Mestas as being in the best part of her life. “I remember the almost constant laughter. She loved to laugh, loved to smile — a big smile that would light up the whole of her face. Our time on this Earth is temporary, but it’s meant to be grabbed for all it can give you. That’s what she was doing in Vegas,” he said. A friend said she rarely acted her age. “You think 67, you think they’re winding down, but there was no winding down with Pati. She was a ball of fire.” Mestas is survived by her two brothers, three children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Austin Meyer, 24
Aldean’s show at the festival fell on Meyer’s 24th birthday. He was there to celebrate it with his fiancée, Dana Getreu. Meyer was an automotive student at his local community college. his sister described him to her local news station as someone who was a joy to be around. “He always had a smile on his face … and was always making people laugh,” she said. And Getreu’s father sang Meyer’s praises as well. “He was a wonderful young man and my future son-in-law. The loss and grief his family and mine feel at this time is beyond belief,” he said.
Adrian Murfitt, 35
Before the festival, Murfitt had picked up some essentials — a pair of Tony Lama cowboy boots, a belt with a big silver buckle, a Wrangler shirt and a black buffalo-skin Stetson hat. He was wearing that Stetson in one of the last selfies he took before tragedy struck. The commercial fisherman was there with good friend Brian MacKinnon, celebrating a successful fishing season. “They don’t make them like that anymore,” was how one friend described Murfitt’s open-hearted disposition. Murfitt is survived by his mother, a sister and two brothers.
Rachael Parker, 33
Manhattan Beach. CA
Parker — a country music fan — came to the festival with three of her co-workers from the Manhattan Beach Police Department, where she had worked for a decade, not only to hear the music but also to celebrate a birthday. Facebook postings after the tragedy described her passion for working with older adults, and said, “Rachael’s smile could light up a room, even on the most difficult of days.” A co-worker said she had “a bubbly personality that never, never, stopped.” Parker’s mother added that her daughter had a “heart of gold.”
Jenny Parks, 36
Parks and her husband were high school sweethearts who both loved country music and Las Vegas. So together, they traveled to the festival, hoping to have the time of their lives, watching their favorites singers. Friends, family and students of the kindergarten teacher all share the same memories of the kind, loving, generous, enthusiastic, energetic and dedicated woman. “Her spirit was something to behold,” a statement from her school district said. Elsewhere she was described as “the girl that every mother wants her son to bring home.” Parks is survived by her husband, a son and a daughter.
Carrie Parsons, 31
When Eric Church performed at the festival two nights before the shooting, Parsons shared a picture with friends of Church on stage. “Night made,” she’d written. She was at the three-day event on a girls’ trip. After the tragedy, Parsons’ good friend, Carolyn Farmer, posted a note to Church, on his Facebook timeline, saying, “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 knowing she was living life until her last moments, loving country music.”
Lisa Patterson, 46
Completely kind and completely candid. That’s how friends and family are remembering Patterson, a mother of three teenagers who was at the festival with a group of girlfriends from her church. She loved music, and loved Las Vegas, so the country show seemed like the perfect trip. Said a close friend, “She had a wonderful spirit. Lisa would just say things how they were. She wouldn’t sugarcoat anything. She was frank but also tremendously kind and compassionate. Her footprints are on all of our hearts.” After what happened in the Las Vegas tragedy, her family is struggling. Her husband said, “I’m just lost without her. I don’t know what to do.”
John Phippen, 56
Phippen went to the festival with his son Travis. The home remodeler from California was a dune-buggy enthusiast and a lover of country music. He’d recently posted Sam Hunt’s “Make You Miss Me” on Facebook. A friend said the song was his favorite. That friend also called Phippen a “wonderful, selfless, sweet soul of a man who made a lasting impression on so many hearts.” He is survived by his six children and one grandchild, plus his extended family.
Melissa Ramirez, 26
Like so many who died in the shooting, Ramirez was most looking forward to seeing Sunday night’s headliner, Jason Aldean. She’d driven to Vegas with friends, and before the show started, she’d called her little sister and promised to bring her home a t-shirt from the concert. “She was a person who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind,” a cousin told her hometown newspaper. “She was really kind and really silly, really funny. She talked to everyone and was a social butterfly. But she was honest and blunt. She would tell you how it is.”
Jordyn Rivera, 21
La Verne, CA
Rivera was in her last year at California State University at San Bernardino, where she was studying health-care management. She went with her mother to the festival, because she loved country music. At the vigil to celebrate Rivera’s life, a family friend looked out at the crowd and said, “Look at what Jordyn has done — the love and smile of one little girl. In today’s world when there is so much strife and division, look what one little girl has done.” Rivera is survived by her parents and a brother.
Quinton Robbins, 20
Robbins and his girlfriend had driven to Las Vegas especially to see Jason Aldean, his favorite singer, according to his family. They joked that Robbins was also a fan of himself, when he was singing along to the country music he loved so much. His girlfriend posted on Instagram, “I love you more than life. You got hurt trying to protect me and I have no words… I love you so much and I know I’ll see you again.” Robbins — a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — is survived by his parents, his younger sister and a younger brother.
Cameron Robinson, 28
St. George, UT
The last text Robinson sent his family shows what a sense of humor he had. He’d told his family, most likely the night before the shooting, that he “wanted to have Sam Hunt’s babies.” Robinson was at the Vegas festival with his boyfriend Bobby Eardley, who told CNN, “I just cannot say enough amazing things about that man. He’s such an example to everyone he came into contact with in his life. He always, always strived to be better. And he built such an amazing life for himself. He was such a strong person.”
Tara Roe, 34
Roe’s family members say simply that the young mother was “a beautiful soul.” She was at the festival with her husband Zach, celebrating their wedding anniversary. “My kids and I are forever in debt to Tara, for making us who we are today,” her husband told their hometown newspaper, “and my promise to her is that I will lead our family by the example she set for us, and ensure her memory lives forever in our hearts.” Her aunt also told the newspaper that her niece was “a wonderful mother,” and that “our family is going to miss her dearly.” Aside from her husband, Roe is survived by her two young sons, Lennon and Louis, her parents.
Lisa Romero-Muniz, 48
After Romero-Muniz was fatally shot at the festival, her husband Chris posted their song on Facebook. “This was my song to Lisa,” he wrote, with a link to Keith Urban’s video for “Making Memories of Us.” He also shared that “Lisa loved her Jason Aldean.” The superintendent of the school where she worked called Romero-Muniz “an incredibly loving and sincere friend, mentor and advocate for students.” And one Facebook friend said she was the kind of person who touched the hearts of virtually everyone she knew. She is survived by her husband, a daughter, two sons and four grandchildren.
Christopher Roybal, 28
Roybal’s trip to the festival was mostly about Jason Aldean. But it was also a mother-son trip to celebrate his birthday. When he and his mother tried to connect the night of the show, they could do so only by phone. They happened to be on opposite sides of the stage when Aldean started his set. Tragedy struck before they could find each other in the crowd. Roybal was his mother’s first child, a Navy veteran of whom she was very proud. She told a local newspaper that her son had never heard a song he didn’t like, and that he loved country the most. “My heart is broken in a billion pieces,” she wrote in a recent Facebook post. Besides his mother, Roybal is survived by his father, three brothers and two sisters.
Brett Schwanbeck, 61
Bullhead City, AZ
Schwanbeck was with his fiancé, Anna Orozco, when tragedy struck. The retired truck driver and grandfather of five was joining Orozco for the festival for the first time. “He was a fun-loving, hard-living man,” she said. “He enjoyed life, and he’d help out anyone who needed help. … He was such a big, important part of my life.” And Schwanbeck’s sister added that his death has been absolutely devastating to everyone. “Brett was not done living,” she said. Schwanbeck is survived by his two sons, a daughter, five grandchildren, five siblings and his parents.
Bailey Schweitzer, 20
The list of country shows Schweitzer had already seen is a long one for such a young woman. It included concerts by Cole Swindell, Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks and more. And at the Las Vegas festival, she was most looking forward to seeing newcomer Luke Combs. As Schweitzer’s friends and family mourn the loss, they all seem to agree that she was the girl who could make anyone and everyone laugh, whether it was working at the Sugar Shack in high school, or helping out at her family’s Bakersfield Speedway race track in her spare time. Her co-workers called Schweitzer the office’s “ray of sunshine.” Her boss said, “If you have ever called or visited our office, she was the perky one that helped direct you to the staff member you needed. No one could possibly have a bad day when Bailey was around.”
Laura Shipp, 50
Las Vegas, NV
Shipp was with her boyfriend, her adult son Corey and some of his friends at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas. Going to concerts — especially the country ones — was one of the things she loved to do with friends and family since settling in Las Vegas five years ago. Friends and family recalled Shipp as a proud single parent, a big Los Angeles Dodgers fan, and said that her heart and her free spirit were both contagious. In addition to Corey, Shipp is survived by her parents, a brother and a sister.
Erick Silva, 21
Las Vegas, NV
Silva, 21, died doing what he was always there to do: help others. He was working security at the festival when the shooting started, and immediately went to work helping people escape the gunfire. Silva’s mother described him as a great son, a tender brother and was well-liked by many. “I’m sure if he could save more lives, he would have,” she said. His stepfather echoed that sentiment, adding, “He could have run but he didn’t.”
Susan Smith, 53
Simi Valley, CA
One of Smith’s co-workers recently told her local newspaper that her friend Susan was a big country music fan, and so naturally, she’d gone down to the festival with friends to see all the shows. Several posts on her obituary page shared what was so special about Smith, saying that she was “full of grace” and the epitome of a loving woman, kind and always smiling. Smith is survived by her husband Ross, son Zachary and daughter Devon.
Brennan Stewart, 30
Las Vegas, NV
Stewart had a passion for live music, no matter who was playing it, friends said. His girlfriend, Gia Iantuono, who had accompanied him to the festival said that when he wasn’t listening to music, he was making his own. Stewart had just finished recording an EP and sent it to Nashville for mixing. “In all aspects, he was just wonderful. I don’t think I’ve ever used that word to describe somebody, but that is what he was,” Iantuono wrote in a Facebook post. Stewart was a regular at the honky-tonk country bar where Iantuono worked. He was the “kind of guy who always put others before himself,” another friend posted. He played the guitar and loved country music, rarely missing an opportunity to attend a country concert, his family said.
Derrick “Bo” Taylor, 56
Just days before Taylor was set to leave for the festival, he was helping a group of prison inmates work with firefighters to clear brush and trees to create fire lines during a wildfire in Northern California. But in the nick of time, he and his girlfriend Denise Cohen, who had given him the festival tickets for his 56th birthday, made their flight to Las Vegas. On one of the online tributes to Taylor, a friend wrote, “If you crossed paths with Bo Taylor, you were blessed to have known him.” His son Kyle said his dad was the kind of man everyone liked and was the perfect doting grandfather to Kyle’s children. “I’d tell them don’t make a mess, and he’d tell me to just leave them alone. He just liked to play,” he said.
Neysa Tonks, 46
Tonks loved her three sons, her country music and her spontaneous travels. But she had planned this year’s to the festival with her boyfriend, co-workers and friends to see the live music she loved. Her last Instagram post was a video of Sam Hunt performing “I Met a Girl” just one night before Jason Aldean took the stage and the shooting started. According to Tonks’ obituary, she lived and loved every minute of her life, was quick to smile, and truly was the life of every party. She is survived by her sons Kaden, Braxton and Greysen.
Michelle Vo, 32
Eagle Rock CA
Vo was new to country music. But like so many country fans, once she was in, she was hooked. “In country, the theme of each song is so sweet, she fell in love with it,” her older sister said. Vo’s brother-in-law said the genre was her new love. And while Vo came to Las Vegas alone, she made fast friends with the fans around her. “If somebody was a good person, they had an instant friend in her,” he said. Another brother-in-law added that Vo’s story was the perfect American dream. She’d been raised in California as the the first American-born child of Vietnamese parents. “An immigrant family, against all odds, persevering,” he shared. Michelle is survived by her husband, Tomo Swendson.
Kurt von Tillow, 55
Cameron Park, CA
Von Tillow made the trip to the Route 91 Harvest music festival an annual family tradition. This year’s fest was no exception. Von Tillow was there with his immediate and extended families. And according to his hometown newspaper, von Tillow’s niece Araina Hyatt credits her uncle with saving her life. “My uncle was a hero,” Hyatt said. “He died doing what he loved to do, which was listening to country music and being with his family.” His wife Mary Jo, his daughter and son-in-law escaped safely. His son-in-law’s father described von Tillow — who was usually dressed in some kind of patriotic red, white and blue — as having a wonderful sense of humor, and being the kind of man who was “full of laughter and joy.”
Bill Wolfe Jr., 42
It was Wolfe’s 20th wedding anniversary that brought him and his wife Robyn to the festival. His local newspaper reported that Wolfe’s favorite singer was Eric Church, and that he was the first fan to shake Church’s hand at the festival. Friends called Wolfe a great family man, a good guy all around, devoted, kind and caring. Family friend Tony Yaniello told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “Some people simply live in the community, Bill lived for his community.” Wolfe is survived by his wife and two young sons, Ethan and Trevor.