By JAY REEVES, Associated Press
Some died with loved ones or friends at their side, others with newfound buddies. All shared in the terror of being caught by a gunman spraying bullets from high above.
Authorities say they still don’t know why Stephen Paddock, 64, unleashed hell on some 22,000 people attending a country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday night. A day of dancing and smiles ended in bloody horror as lead rained down from the 32nd floor of a hotel.
Here are the stories of some of the 59 people who didn’t make it out alive.
YOUNGEST OF FOUR WANTED TO HELP OTHERS
Michelle Vo, 32, was the youngest of four siblings in a family from the Bay Area.
She worked hard at her job at New York Life insurance group in Pasadena, loved to cheer for the Golden State Warriors and was a pretty good golfer, said sister Cathy Vo Warren.
Warren remembered her sister as someone who always wanted to do good for those around her. “You’d need a poet to tell you everything,” said Cathy’s husband, Paul Warren.
Born in Southern California, Vo was attending the Las Vegas concert by herself but befriended fellow concertgoer Kody Robertson. The two were together when Vo was shot, and Robertson later helped relatives locate her.
“We’re very thankful that we met Kody,” Warren said. “We’re very thankful for him to be there with Michelle so that she wasn’t alone in her last moments.”
MOTHER-DAUGHTER TRIP TURNS DEADLY FOR ONE
Dana Gardner was attending the music festival with her daughter Kayla when the gunfire erupted. Gardner was shot and killed; her daughter was uninjured, according to KABC-TV in Los Angeles.
Gardner, 52, of Grand Terrace, California, was a deputy recorder in the San Bernardino County Assessor-Recorder’s Office. She’d held a job there since 1991, according to David Wert, a county spokesman.
She had two other children, sons Anthony and Ryan, and lived with her little white dog, Ellie.
Gardner loved the outdoors and travelling, filling her Facebook page with pictures from a trip to Puerto Rico and from walks on beaches, or in Northern California’s redwood forests.
COLLEGE HONOR SOCIETY RAISING MONEY FOR SLAIN MEMBER
Jordyn Rivera was in her fourth year as a student at California State University, San Bernardino, where she made an impression on everyone from students to the president.
Rivera, 21, was in Las Vegas for Route 91 Harvest Festival when she was shot to death.
University President Tomas Morales said he got to know Rivera last summer in London during a study abroad program.
“As one of her faculty members noted, we will remember and treasure her for her warmth, optimism, energy, and kindness,” he wrote in a message to faculty and staff.
A native of the Los Angeles suburb of La Verne, Rivera was studying health care management. Fellow members of an honor society are now raising money through a gofundme page to pay her funeral expenses.
‘THIS IS AS TRAGIC AS IT GETS’
Christiana Duarte, 22, had just taken her first job, working in marketing for the Los Angeles Kings after graduating from the University of Arizona.
“It’s just so tragic that this evil, evil man would do this, would just destroy the life of this beautiful young woman,” said family spokeswoman Danette Myers, a co-worker of Duarte’s father at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. “She would’ve given so much to this world, and now that’s been cut short.”
Duarte was the only daughter in a well-known Los Angeles family. Her father, Michael Duarte, is a deputy district attorney, and her older brother, also Michael, is a prospect for the Chicago White Sox baseball team, Myers said.
Ariel Romero, the younger Michael’s girlfriend who was with Christiana at the concert, is still in the hospital recovering from her own gunshot wounds, Myers said.
SUBSTITUTE TEACHER LOVED CHILDREN
Kelsey Meadows, 28, loved children so she returned to her hometown of Taft in eastern California to teach at her alma mater, Taft Union High School, after earning her degree. Meadows was a regular substitute teacher.
“Kelsey was smart, compassionate and kind. She had a sweet spirit and a love for children,” Principal Mary Alice Finn said in a statement.
Meadows’ brother, Brad Meadows, posted on his Facebook page that his sister had not been heard from since going to the music festival in Las Vegas. The California firefighter thanked everyone for helping them try to find her.
“So it is with an absolutely shattered heart that I let everyone know that Kelsey did not survive this tragic event,” Meadows posted Tuesday.
Associated Press writers Don Babwin in Chicago; Corey R. Williams in Detroit; Julie Watson in San Diego, California; Jason Dearen in Gainesville, Florida and Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento, California contributed to this report. Reeves reported from Birmingham, Alabama.