New Mexicans at the Las Vegas Shooting: Survivors, Heroes, and Losses
Throughout the United States, the first week of October has been traumatic and emotional. There were tens of thousands of people from all over the country, with many New Mexicans at the Las Vegas shooting. This horror took place during the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Sunday night, October 1. This is one of the largest country music events, lasting three days, and has taken place in Las Vegas for the past four years. It includes performances by top country music stars, and this year featured Jason Aldean.
It was 10 pm, and the show was nearing its end. Aldean was on stage, singing, ‘”When She Says Baby,” when the shooting began. The gunman, Stephen Paddock, fired a nine minute barrage of automatic shots from the 32nd floor window of his hotel room and into a crowd of more than 22,000 people.
Nearly 60 of those people were killed, and hundreds were injured. Since this horrifying event, we have been deeply moved by the immense loss, the shocking accounts of survivors, and the inspiring tales of heroes who risked their lives to save others. Today, we are sharing the stories of New Mexicans at the Las Vegas shooting: the survivors, the heroes, and the tremendous loss that has broken our hearts.
New Mexicans at the Las Vegas Shooting who Survived
There were many New Mexicans in the crowd in Las Vegas when the Route 91 Harvest Festival was disrupted by horror, panic, and carnage. One mother from Albuquerque was there with her 14 year old daughter.
Jenn Salazar and her daughter had been planning their vacation since May, when they won their tickets to the concert from a radio station. With hundreds competing in similar radio contests to win tickets, there is no shortage of people realizing that this very easily could have been their own story, or worse. Salazar certainly knows how fortunate she and her daughter are to have survived, though their road back from the trauma of this event will not be easy. In the aftermath, Salazar was in disbelief to realize that they had actually made it out alive.
She recalled grabbing her daughter, and dropping to the floor. When there was a break in the shooting, they started running through the chaos towards the parking lot. In their desperate bid to escape, they saw the world falling apart as they raced away. People were running in different directions, crouching, dropping possessions, screaming, and falling all around them. She felt like the ordeal would never end.
Salazar also shared her gratitude for the two strangers, whom she referred to as angels, for giving herself and her daughter a ride to safety in their truck. She stated that this experience will haunt them, a sentiment that everyone affected by the Las Vegas shooting can likely agree with.
New Mexican Heroes Saved Lives During the Las Vegas Shooting
Like the two angels who saved Jenn Salazar and her teenage daughter, there were many other heroes, working to save the lives of strangers around them. Some of them were New Mexicans at the Las Vegas shooting who risked their lives to make a difference. Among these New Mexican heroes are Captain Adam Gallegos and Officer William Perdue from the Santa Fe Police Department, and the mysterious ‘Red Hat Hero,’ who was later identified as Anthony Chavez of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Off Duty Officers from the Santa Fe Police Department
Captain Gallegos and Officer Perdue, from the Santa Fe Police Department, were both present at the Las Vegas shooting. They quickly sought cover when they realized someone was firing into the crowd. Then, they watched in horror as people panicked, got trampled, and were killed by the automatic gunfire. The instincts and training of these two off duty policemen saved them, as well as close to 50 other survivors.
In the panic and chaos, there were plenty of people who simply didn’t know what to do or where to go. This is where Captain Gallegos and Officer Perdue revealed themselves as true heroes. They didn’t just use their skills and knowledge to get out of the line of fire, but also to lead others through the madness and on to safety.
It was not a simple journey. There were hazards, obstacles, and the need to keep everyone calm and together while avoiding fire. They linked arms with others in the crowd, hunkered down, and moved as quickly as possible through the devastation. Together, the group proceeded towards the exit and away from the shooting. They saved more victims from being trampled by adding them to the group of arm-linked survivors.
Yet, reaching the emergency exit and security officers was not the end of the journey. A security guard was shot right in front of them when they got there. They quickly moved through the parking lot until they came to a chain link fence. To go further, they had to lift the fence enough to crawl beneath it. Captain Gallegos showed everyone what to do and ensured that they all made it past this obstacle to continue their path out of harm’s way.
The Red Hat Hero from Albuquerque
Unlike these heroes from the Santa Fe Police Department, the ‘Red Hat Hero,’ Anthony Chavez of Albuquerque, is not a trained police officer. He is simply an incredible man who stayed calm and helped others to survive.
Four Californians in the front row of the concert were frozen in shock, and didn’t know whether to crouch, lay flat on the ground, or run. Laying on the ground, they frantically considered their options through three rounds of automatic fire.
This is when Anthony Chavez, wearing his favorite old red Albuquerque Dukes hat, spoke up. He told them they needed to go and led them towards a fence. Chavez then helped several people to get over that fence, so they could find shelter and survive. He remained where he was to find his girlfriend and continue to help others.
After losing Chavez in the chaos, without knowing his name, some of those survivors referred to him as the ‘Red Hat Hero’ or the ‘Hero in the Red Hat.’ They started searching for him on social media to discover his fate and thank him. That post was shared over 1,000 times on Facebook, helping the grateful survivors to reunite with Chavez by the next day!
A Terrible Loss for New Mexicans at the Las Vegas Shooting
While these stories of survival and heroism can give us all some comfort and hope in a bleak time, the horror and loss of the Las Vegas shooting cannot be lightened. Close to 60 people were killed by automatic gunfire. Among those killed was Lisa Romero-Muniz from Gallup, New Mexico. She was a loving wife, mother of three, and grandmother of four. She was taken far too soon from her family at the age of 48.
Romero-Muniz was a secretary, counselor, and advocate for students in the Gallup McKinley County School District. She is described by colleagues, students, and family as a kind, compassionate, supportive, and outgoing person.
Lisa will be remembered as a trusted and respected role model who truly cared about children. Her family, colleagues, and community are devastated by the loss.
For the students and the faculty who are crushed by the loss of a mentor and friend, a crisis response team has been made available to assist in the emotional recovery. A memorial was held on Monday night at Miyamura High School, where Lisa Romero-Muniz worked. Communities around the US are now facing similar ordeals as they mourn and recover from their traumatic losses, while supporting their survivors and honoring their heroes.
The Long Term Impact on New Mexicans at the Las Vegas Shooting
Anyone who witnessed, survived, or was otherwise affected by the Las Vegas shooting is going to have a hard time healing and moving past this event. If you or someone you love has been affected, know that there is help available for those who are struggling. The New Mexicans at the Las Vegas shooting will need a lot of time, support, patience, and love to recover from their trauma and process their grief.
Even those of us who were not directly impacted are affected by this horrendous act of violence. Some are fearful of venturing out to enjoy their favorite activities where crowds are likely to be. With the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta coming up, questions have been raised about security.
We can all rest assured that the Balloon Fiesta has always had evacuation and emergency plans for the various things that might go wrong. Even so, they intend to initiate new security policies to improve safety.
New Mexico Can Help the Victims of the Las Vegas Shooting
To everyone affected by the Las Vegas shooting, we send our heartfelt condolences, prayers, and well-wishes. But we hope that we can do much more than that. We recently told our faithful readers how New Mexico is helping with disaster relief efforts and how each of us can contribute to the recovery. Now, we’ll share information on how New Mexico can help the survivors and families of victims of the Las Vegas shooting.
To provide financial support, contribute to the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund. It was set up on GoFundMe by the Chair of the Clark County Commission from Las Vegas, Steve Sisolak. The funds are being distributed among the injured and the families of victims who require financial support. There are also many other things that you can do to lend a hand to those who are in need, besides donating money. Start by seeking out the support and resources of the crisis response Facebook page for The Violent Incident in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Whether you were one of the New Mexicans at the Las Vegas shooting, know someone who was, or have been otherwise affected, feel free to share your experiences and feelings in the comments.