Las Vegas ceremony commemorates victims of October 1 shooting
California resident Robert Ramirez came to Las Vegas on Friday to pay tribute to the life of his little sister, Melissa Ramirez, four years to the day after being killed during the filming of the Route 91 Harvest festival on October 1, 2017, in the worst case cases. mass shooting in modern American history.
Ramirez and his family gathered with more than 200 other people in the amphitheater at the Clark County Government Center just after sunrise to participate in the annual October 1 ceremony in honor of those killed in the massacre.
“We’re here primarily to remember and make sure people don’t forget what happened,” Ramirez said. “Ever since (the shooting) happened here in Nevada, people in California have kind of forgotten what happened. It’s very different here. (The ceremony) means a lot to me, and especially to my parents.
Las Vegas’ commitment to remember the 60 victims and survivors of the shooting was at the heart of Friday’s celebration. Tears flowed. The families of the missing greeted each other and hugged each other. A sense of shared grief has crossed the crowd even though it has been four years since an armed man, shooting from a hotel room in Mandalay Bay, killed 58 people at a country music concert. Two survivors later died from injuries sustained in the shooting. Hundreds more were injured.
Jimmy Long from Riverside, Calif., Was at the festival with a group of six that night and survived.
“That says everything”
“We have since become close to a number of people who have lost someone,” Long said after Friday’s ceremony. “That says everything. We will come here for the rest of our lives that day to remember those who did not return home that evening.
As with many survivors, Long said he continues to struggle with the mental trauma of living when so many others have died.
“This is the hardest part,” he said. ” You wonder why ? Why not me?'”
Survivor Janet Muzio Medina and her husband Randy, also from California, shared similar feelings. Janet said the remembrance ceremony is essential in dealing with the trauma, as it gives her a chance to honor those killed.
“I have to be here to celebrate (the life) of everyone who is not here,” she said.
Heather Gooze of Las Vegas, who was running the festival bar that night, was also on hand to offer support to the families of those killed.
“It is important that they see my face, that they know that we have not forgotten their angels,” Gooze said.
Sisolak, Lombardo addresses the crowd
Clark County and the Metropolitan Police Department co-hosted the event with the Clark County Fire Department and the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center. Governor Steve Sisolak told the crowd that grieving families “doesn’t get any easier”.
“Sadly, this tragedy will live on in our lives and in our memories forever,” Sisolak said. “The lives that were lost, the families and those affected will never be forgotten. … You are constantly in our hearts and in our prayers.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said the ceremony was to be held annually to honor the victims and also to remember how Las Vegans came together to support each other after the shooting.
“We are only as strong as our ability to come together,” said Lombardo.
Dee Ann Hyatt spoke on Friday morning about the loss of her brother, Kurt Von Tillow, in the shooting. She and her daughter were both injured during the concert.
“These physical wounds have healed, but the lasting scars for our family remain and continue, as (for) all of our families and all of the families of our angels,” Hyatt said.
The sunrise ceremony was one of many activities organized this year to honor victims and survivors. The names of the victims will be read out Friday at 10:05 p.m. at the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden, 1015 S. Casino Center Blvd. in downtown Las Vegas.
As Las Vegas Police participated in the commemorations, they also used the anniversary to highlight efforts to improve preparedness.
Metro and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Foundation unveiled the first building constructed at the Reality Based Training Center at 7370 E. Carey Road on Friday. The center is expected to simulate realistic scenarios for first responders, including high threat scenarios.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.