The Big Life Of John Phippen
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Alaskans Among Las Vegas Victims
Updated Oct. 4 at 11 a.m. ET
A 20-year-old aspiring nurse who fell into her high school sweetheart's arms. A Navy veteran haunted by the memories of war. A mechanic who loved the outdoors and held a stranger's hand as he died. A mom of four with a newborn at home, still out on maternity leave. A husband celebrating his anniversary, taking a bullet for his wife.
Fifty-eight people died in the Sunday night attack on a country music concert on the Las Vegas Strip, not counting the shooter, and more than 500 were injured. It was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Not every victim has been named. "It's a long, laborious process to identify the victims and reunite them with the family members," said Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo.
But dozens of victims have already been identified, and across the country, families, friends and entire communities are grieving their losses.
Here is what we know from official sources, friends and family members about some of those who died.
This post will be updated with further information about the victims as we learn more.
Jack Beaton, 54, Bakersfield, Calif.
The father of two, who was attending the concert with his wife Laurie, died shielding her from the bullets. She survived the attack.
His mother-in-law, Lauraine Cook, confirmed the circumstances of Beaton's death to NPR, but said the family was busy making funeral arrangements and couldn't speak further.
Beaton's father-in-law, Jerry Cook, told BakersfieldNow that Beaton "always had a smile on his face" and was an "incredibly friendly, caring and loving" man.
The Beatons' son said on Twitter that his dad "jumped in front of my mom and got shot." Lauraine Cook told BakersfieldNow that according to her daughter, Jack Beaton "put Laurie on the ground and covered her with his body."
The couple had been married for 23 years. They were celebrating their anniversary at the concert, the newspaper reports.
Christiana Duarte, 22, Redondo Beach, Calif.
Duarte was a recent graduate of the University of Arizona, where she studied business and was a member of the Sigma Kappa sorority. The university confirmed her death in a statement on Tuesday.
She had just started her first post-college job, as a fan service associate for the Los Angeles Kings hockey team, USA Today reports.
Duarte was attending the concert with her brother's girlfriend Ariel Romero, who was injured in the shooting, the Daily Breeze writes. Romero was hospitalized and her family notified, but for most of Monday, Duarte's fate was unclear; police had located her phone and ID, but not her body, the Redondo Beach newspaper reports. Friends and family were searching hospitals and asking for prayers.
On Monday night, Duarte's death was confirmed.
In an interview with the Arizona Republic, Duarte's friend Maddie Noble described her as as "incredibly driven, passionate about everyone and everything."
Denise Burditus, 50, Martinsburg, W.Va.
Burditis' husband of over 30 years, Tony Burditis, confirmed his wife's death to NPR.
He also told Anderson Cooper 360 that she always had a smile on her face.
"I want the world to know Denise," he told CNN. "I'm going to miss her greatly. Her family is going to miss her greatly. Her friends are going to miss her greatly. She was a great person."
Denise Burditis had two children and four grandchildren, with a fifth grandchild due in February. Tony described her grandchildren as the light of her life.
Burditus described herself on Facebook as a college student and semi-retired.
She had also served as president of the Association of the United States Army subchapter in Lacey, Wash. Tony is a recently retired soldier, and the couple had moved around the country together throughout his military career.
Both lovers of country music, Tony and Denise had attended the same festival in Las Vegas last year.
Dorene Anderson, 49, Anchorage, Alaska
"Dorene Anderson had come south to Las Vegas with her family on holiday," North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann reports.
On her Facebook page, Anderson described herself as a stay-at-home wife and mother. "In a Facebook photograph with her husband and two daughters, she just looks incredibly happy," Brian says.
A candlelight vigil is scheduled to remember Anderson on Tuesday at the Sullivan Arena — where her favorite hockey team, the Alaska Aces, plays. Anderson was part of a group of devoted fans who call themselves the Cowbell Crew.
Alyssa Igtanloc, a friend of the family, has set up a GoFundMe campaign for the family. She writes, "Dorene went above and beyond for everyone else and we would like to do the same for her and her family. She was not only a mother to her two beautiful daughters but a mother to the community."
Adrian Murfitt, 35, Anchorage, Alaska
Murfitt was a commercial fisherman in Alaska who was known to many simply as "Murf."
Brian Mann reports:
"Adrian Murfitt never married, but he had a dog named Paxson he called his baby. He loved to hang out with his family. He was at the concert here in Las Vegas with another Alaskan, Brian MacKinnon, who wrote on his Facebook page that one of the bullets knocked his hat off. But then another round caught Adrian Murfitt in the neck.
" 'Sadly he died in my arms,' Brian MacKinnon wrote."
Adrian Murfitt's mother spoke to Alaska Public Radio, which relays, "Murfitt's mother, Avonna, described her son as tall, handsome and shy most of the time. He was a big country music fan and went to the festival annually. This year he was celebrating a successful fishing season."
Lisa Patterson, Lomita, Calif.
Patterson "was a mom, who worked with her husband in the family hardwood flooring business in Los Angeles," North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann reports. "She also wanted to be a schoolteacher."
Brian spoke to Patterson's daughter Amber, 19, a college student.
"She was the most amazing person. She just cared for people and always put other people first," Amber Patterson said.
After the shooting, the family went through a long wait to find out if Lisa Patterson was among the hundreds of people who had been taken to Las Vegas hospitals.
"We didn't know where she was. I was expecting to come here and for her to just be injured, but then we found this out, so it was devastating," Amber said.
Mann said Amber was wearing her mother's bracelet — part of the personal effects local authorities had given to the family.
"She was the most beautiful individual," Amber said, "and I'm going to try my hardest to be the best daughter she could ever imagine and take care of my family and I hope she knows that."
Lisa Patterson had been married to her husband, Bob, for 30 years. She had three daughters — the youngest is 8 years old.
Lisa and Bob Patterson were also supporters and volunteers in the Palos Verdes Girls Softball League.
As KPBS reports, a friend of the couple, Andy Tamilin, wrote on a GoFundMe page that Patterson and her husband "spent endless hours donating their time and energy to help the girls of our community."
Jennifer Irvine, 42, San Diego, Calif.
Irvine "ran a family-law and criminal-defense practice out of an office high-rise near San Diego's El Cortez hotel," according to KPBS in Los Angeles.
"My good friend, colleague, and business partner Jennifer Irvine was killed by a madman at the festival in Las Vegas," San Diego-area attorney Thomas Slattery wrote on Facebook. "A tragic loss of a kind, generous, and beautiful lady. She will be greatly missed."
John Phippen, 56, Santa Clarita, Calif.
Phippen was "a handsome guy with gray hair and a moustache," North County Public Radio reporter Brian Mann reports. "He was at the music festival with his son Travis, an emergency medical technician. They were dancing when one of the bullets struck John in the lower back."
Travis Phippen was shot in the arm, but he managed to get his dad out of the venue that was under fire, get him into a car and get him to a hospital. But despite Travis Phippen's efforts to control the bleeding and help his father along the way, John Phippen died.
Brian reports of John Phippen:
"He ran a home repair and remodeling company in Valencia. But really he seems to have been a family man. He had six kids. His youngest daughter is just 14 years old. His friend Leah created a fundraising page for the family on the GoFundMe site and she talks about him just being a good guy — someone who liked to go camping, liked a cold beer, was always willing to help out a friend."
Michelle Vo, 32, Los Angeles
Vo worked for an insurance company in Southern California and lived in Eagle Rock. Her sister, Cathy Vo, told member station KPCC that Michelle Vo had a bubbly personality, a newfound passion for country music and a gift for making friends.
"You instantly loved her, and she could talk to anybody, whoever you were," Cathy Vo told KPCC.
Vo had just made a new friend at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas when the shooting began. That man, Kody Robertson, was the one who called her family to tell them she'd been shot.
The Washington Post's Wesley Lowery reconstructed the events of that night — from the two strangers chatting over beers to a blood-covered Robertson desperately checking hospitals to find where Vo was taken. You can read the full story here.
Charleston Hartfield, 34, Henderson, Nev.
Hartfield, a Las Vegas police officer, was off duty when he attended the Route 91 Harvest music festival and died in the massacre. The city's police force confirmed that one off-duty officer had been killed but did not identify him; a friend of Hartfield's, Troy Rhett, spoke to NPR and confirmed his death.
A 34-year-old military veteran and married father of two, Hartfield was better known to many as Coach Charles or Coach Chucky — he coached youth football for the Henderson Cowboys.
"I think he was every kid's favorite coach," Rhett told NPR. Hartfield was a big guy, Rhett said, always positive and always encouraging self-improvement and community service. "He was a father figure for a lot of the people he interacted with."
Rhett choked up as he described the number of children who came to a vigil for Hartfield on Monday night. "It's just indicative of who he was," he said. "The community here at Vegas will never be the same having lost such a bright star."
Hartfield also wrote and self-published a book, Memoirs Of A Public Servant, about life as a Las Vegas police officer. He wrote in the book that he began talking publicly about community-oriented policing as an accident — a local high school was short on a speaker for an event, and Hartfield agreed to fill the slot. But he discovered he could start meaningful conversations with young people about police use of force and race relations.
In a forward to the book, Hartfield told his fellow police officers that the perception of policing depends on the interactions officers have with the public every day. "I feel honored that you have allowed me to serve our community side by side with you," he wrote to his colleagues.
Rhett knew Hartfield was at the music festival, and texted on Sunday night to ask if he was OK. When he didn't reply, Rhett just assumed that Hartfield was too busy assisting others to respond.
"He'd be the guy that would be helping everybody, saving everyone first, before he would even think of saving himself." Rhett said. "He's the best of what we have in society ... as a police officer and a serviceman, and then he volunteered so much of his time to the community. I don't know if you can ask more out of an individual. In the short period of time that he was on this earth, he's done more than most people do in a lifetime."
Rocio Guillen Rocha, 40, Eastvale, Calif.
Guillen had given birth to her fourth child — a baby boy — just six weeks ago and was still on maternity leave from her job as a manager at a California Pizza Kitchen restaurant.
She and her fiancé, Chris Jaksha, both major country music fans, had traveled from their home in Eastvale to attend Sunday's concert as part of a birthday celebration for one of their friends, Jaksha's sister Nikki Stowers told NPR.
Stowers said that according to her brother, when the shooting began, Guillen was hit in the thigh. Jaksha was able to get Guillen to a hospital with the help of police, but she died soon after arriving.
Now Stowers is caring for the infant, along with the couple's 18-month-old daughter. Guillen's two older boys — one 13, the other 17 — are with Guillen's relatives.
"I don't even know what to say," said Stowers, her voice thickening with emotion. "She was such a great mom. My parents have a house by the river and she loved going out there and taking the kids. Just being a family person. She was that type of mom who just loved holding her kids. And she loved her two older boys so much — just watching them play sports. It's so unfair that she's had her life taken away."
Jenny Parks, 35, Palmdale, Calif.
Parks was a kindergarten teacher at Anaverde Elementary School, where she'd worked for three years. A representative of the school district confirmed her death to NPR.
"She was always enthusiastic, energetic, committed and dedicated," the Westside Union School District said in a statement. Parks was "so proud to be a teacher," the district wrote. "Her spirit was something to behold. The students who were instructed by her knew what it was to love learning as Jennifer gave them the sense of wonder, curiosity, and excitement about all they did."
Parks attended the music festival with her husband, Bobby, who was injured but survived. They have two children.
Bobby Parks' uncle, Steven McCarthy, told People Magazine that the Parks were "the perfect family." Jenny was "absolutely beautiful and very intelligent, had a wonderful sense of humor and was so kind," he said.
Angie Gomez, 20, Riverside, Calif.
Gomez, who graduated from Riverside Polytechnic High School in 2015, was an aspiring nurse with a passion for children's theater. Gomez's older sister, Tawny Finn, told NPR that Gomez adored spending time with her family — and loved country music.
"I was 9 when she was born. I just fell in love with her," Finn says. "She was such a good baby. ... She'd barely ever cried but when she did, I'd sing to her and she'd put her ear up to my mouth and just stop crying. She was just so wonderful."
When she grew up, Gomez was just as sweet. "There was not a bad bone in her body," Finn says. "My sister was just the greatest person. And I know that seems like something that someone would say ... but she really was the greatest person, with the kindest heart, and her main goal in life was just to make other people happy and take care of them."
Gomez was at the music festival with her boyfriend, Ethan Sanchez. Gomez rarely went to concerts but wanted to see this one — and Ethan, who wasn't as big a country music fan, went to be with her, Finn says. The two were high school sweethearts with a bright future in front of them.
"She just recently got a job last week as a certified nurse's assistant and she was really excited about that," Finn said. "They had so many plans — when they were going to get married, when they were going to have kids. They were the childhood sweethearts that were going to make it."
They wanted to be close to the stage for the Jason Aldean concert. That's when the massacre started. The second volley of shots brought Gomez down; she fell into her boyfriend's arms, struggling to breathe. With the help of bystanders, Sanchez carried her to the road. Several cars flew by before a good Samaritan stopped and gave her a ride to the hospital in his Camaro.
But it was too late, Finn says.
"She was my best friend," she said. "It's just going to be hard to live without her."
Jordan McIldoon, 23, Maple Ridge, Canada
McIldoon was a heavy duty mechanic and "self-described, cowboy-boot, tattoo-covered redneck who loved the outdoors," according to a statement given to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. by McIldoon's parents, Al and Angela.
He was attending the concert with his girlfriend, but he died holding the hand of a stranger: Heather Gooze, who was working as a bartender at the concert. She told CNN that several men carried a gravely injured McIldoon to the bar area, then ran out to help others who were wounded. Gooze said she kneeled down to take McIldoon's hand and could feel his fingers wrap around hers. "I felt, like, a squeeze on my fingers and then I just felt the fingers go loose," she recalled.
Soon after, McIldoon's cellphone rang — a friend calling to see if he was OK. Gooze told the broadcaster that she answered the call and learned McIldoon's name from the friend. Soon she was also in phone contact with McIldoon's girlfriend, who was in lockdown at a nearby hotel, and his mother back in Canada.
Gooze said she promised them she would stay with his body until authorities came to take him away so that they would know what had happened to him. It took several hours. "I just sat with him," Gooze told CNN. "I would like to think, if it was me, somebody wouldn't let me sit there alone."
McIldoon's parents told the CBC that he was their only son. "We only had one child," they said. "We just don't know what to do."
Bailey Schweitzer, 20, Bakersfield, Calif.
Schweitzer worked as a receptionist at Infinity Communications, a company serving the cellular industry. Her supervisor, Amie Campbell, confirmed her death to NPR.
"At work we just called her our sunshine," Campbell said. "She just kept a smile on everybody's face and you couldn't have a bad day around her."
A co-worker, Katelynn Cleveland, told The Californian that Schweitzer had been looking forward to the Route 91 Harvest festival for weeks — and was already starting to plan a trip back to Las Vegas for her 21st birthday in April.
Christopher Roybal, 28, Corona, Calif.
Roybal was a Navy veteran who had served in Afghanistan, NPR's Ina Jaffe reports. His death was confirmed by his mother, Debbie Allen, in a post on Facebook.
"Today is the saddest day of my life," Allen wrote. "My heart is broken in a billion pieces."
Matthew Austin, who served with Roybal in the Navy, wrote, "it breaks my heart and infuriates me that a veteran can come home from war unharmed and events like these occur. Shipmate, you were taken much [too] soon."
The most recent post visible to the public on Roybal's own Facebook account, from July, answers the question, "What's it like being shot at?"
Roybal described adrenaline, fear and anger. He wrote:
"The anger stays, long after your friends have died, the lives you've taken are buried and your boots are placed neatly in a box in some storage unit. Still covered in the dirt you've refused to wash off for fear of forgetting the most raw emotions you as a human being will ever feel again.
"What's it like to be shot at? It's a nightmare no amount of drugs, no amount of therapy and no amount of drunk talks with your war veteran buddies will ever be able to escape.
Stacee Etcheber, 50, Novato, Calif.
Etcheber was a hairstylist, a wife, and a mother to two children — a son and daughter ages 10 and 12.
Her husband, Vincent, told NPR that the two of them were standing next to each other at the concert when the first round of shooting began. Vincent, an officer with the San Francisco police, urged his wife to flee as he stayed behind to try to assist.
Asked for the best words to describe Etcheber, Vincent did not hesitate: "strong person, great mother." But he said he was not in a state to talk about her in more detail.
Etcheber grew up in Northern California and photos on her Facebook page show her engaged in all manner of outdoor activities — doing a handstand on a beach, getting a kiss from a seal, riding a horse rodeo-style, celebrating with friends on ski slopes, and grinning widely as she hugged her husband and children.
Carrie Barnette, 34, Riverside, Calif.
Barnette reportedly worked at Disney's California Adventure park, at Pacific Wharf Cafe.
Robert Iger, the CEO of Disney, confirmed her death in a tweet, calling her "a wonderful member of the Disney family" and describing her death as "tragic." Her cousin, Janice Chambers, told the Arizona Republic that Barnette was an "animal lover" who was "always smiling, happy and upbeat."
Susan Smith, 53, Simi Valley, Calif.
Smith was the office manager at an elementary school in Simi Valley. Jake Finch, a spokeman with the Simi Valley School District, confirmed her death to member station KPCC. KPCC reports:
"'Susan was very patient and kind with the students,' said Finch. 'She always had a smile on her face when you walked into her office. She was also incredibly efficient and skilled at her job. And most importantly, she had a great sense of humor. She was just a really sweet, kind, neat person.'" Smith, who lived in Simi Valley, had worked for the school district for 16 years, at five different schools. She worked at Vista Fundamental Elementary for the past three years, said Finch. She was married, and was the mother of two adult children."
Jessica Klymchuk, 34, Canada.
Klymchuk worked as a librarian, educational assistant and bus driver at St. Stephen's (Catholic) School in Vallyview, Alberta.
"She leaves to mourn four children who all attend St. Stephen's and her new husband," Betty Turpin, superintendent of the Holy Family Catholic Regional Division, said in a message to trustees, according to the CBC. "She has been an employee of HFCRD for four years. Please keep the staff and students of St. Stephen's and her family in your prayers."
"The scope of this tragedy is worldwide and we are feeling its impact here at home," Turpin wrote.
Rhonda LeRocque, 42, of Tewksbury, Ma.
LeRocque reportedly died in a Las Vegas hospital after being removed from the scene of the attack. The Boston Globe reports that she worked for IDEO, a Cambridge design firm.
She is survived by her husband, Jason, and the couple's 6-year-old daughter, both of whom were attending the concert at the time of the attack, neither of whom were injured.
"[Her husband] thought she ducked and she didn't. She was caught in the back of the head," Rhonda's half-sister Jennifer Zeleneski said.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal quotes her aunt, Gloria Murdoch, as saying that LeRocque was a devout Jehovah's Witness.
"She was all things to all people. She emanated the word love," Murdock was quoted by the newspaper as saying. "She was as close to perfect as you could get."
Dana Gardner, 52, Grand Terrace, Calif.
Gardner worked for San Bernardino County for more than 25 years; the county spokesman confirmed her death to member station KPCC.
ABC 7 reports that Gardner was with her daughter Kayla at the time of the shooting, and says that Kayla Gardner survived with no injuries.
Sonny Melton, 29, Big Sandy, Tenn.
Melton, a registered nurse at the Henry County Medical Center in Paris, Tenn., was in the lifesaving business, but his employer confirmed he lost his own life. He was at the concert with his wife, Heather, an orthopedic surgeon, who made it out alive.
"He saved my life," Heather Melton told USA Today. "He grabbed me from behind and started running when I felt him get shot in the back."
Lisa Romero-Muniz, 48, Gallup, N.M.
Romero-Muniz, a grandmother, worked as a discipline secretary at Hiroshi Miyamura High School in Gallup, N.M.
"She was not only an employee of our school district, but was an incredible loving and sincere friend, mentor and advocate for students," Gallup-McKinley County Public Schools Superintendent Mike Hyatt said in a statement.
Casey also worked in a school; she had been a a special education teacher at Manhattan Beach Middle School in Los Angeles County for the past nine years. The Manhattan Beach Unified School District said Casey was "loved by students and colleagues alike and will be remembered for her sense of humor, her passion for her work, her devotion to her students, and her commitment to continuing her own learning."
Matthews emailed school families to say that Casey was among numerous Manhattan Beach high school and middle school employees who were at the concert; the others escaped unharmed.
Rachael Parker, 33, Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Parker was also from Manhattan Beach. She was a 10-year veteran of the city's police department and worked as a records technician.
The 33-year-old "was shot and ultimately lost her life in the hospital," police said in a statement. Parker was among four department employees at the concert; one officer was shot and suffered minor injuries.