by Andrew Koubaridis
JENNY Parks was a young mother and kindergarten teacher – a “good woman”, according to her devastated family.
Ms Parks was with thousands of people enjoying the outdoor Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas when homicidal Stephen Paddock began spraying bullets from his hotel room 32 floors above the crowd.
“It’s a sad day for me and my family my niece was murdered killed by that SOB in Las Vegas please pray for me and my family she was a sweet woman she leaves behind a husband and two children Jenny Parks was a good mother and kindergarten teacher,” Rhonda Boyle wrote on Facebook.
The latest update from Las Vegas police has the death toll at 59 dead, and 527 injured. Authorities have not said how many of the wounded are in a critical condition, but they have warned the death toll was likely to rise.
As the names of the dead emerge, so too does horrific survivor accounts of the moments the shooting spree began
Las Vegas shooting victims. Pictured from top left: Lisa Romero, Rhonda LeRocque, Susan Smith, Jenny Parks, (bottom,left) John Phippen, Dana Gardner, Bailey Schweitzer, Adrian Murfitt. – Supplied
Corrine Lomas was standing near the front of the stage when people started “dropping like flies” around her.
“People had to fall on top of each other, whether they were alive or not,” Ms Lomas told US media, as she gave a graphic account of what she saw as the deadliest shooting in US history unfolded.
The shots sounded like “pops” – and each time they rang out people fell to the ground.
“I could see a guy with a bullet wound in his neck. … People started dropping like flies.”
Ms Lomas found herself covered in blood. But it wasn’t from her – it was from the victims that were dying all around her.
She told The New York Times how she shielded her younger brother from the gunfire.
“Every time the crowd got up the shooting started again. I was laying on my brother shielding him. I’m 30, he’s 21. I love him to death; he has more life to live.”
She watched in horror as ordinary people tried desperately to save each other.
“A lot of really good people (were) holding people’s wounds shut, trying to help them while everybody was just ducked down,” she said.
She later said on Twitter survivors were herded like cattle away from the danger, and told of how hard it was to get over a metal divider as they fled.
It was so hard for some people to get over this divider.. https://t.co/OnOWonr4n4
— Corinne Lomas (@CorinneLomas) October 2, 2017
But Ms Lomas tweeted her support for US citizens being allowed access to firearms, saying now wasn’t the time for a gun control debate.
“F**k gun laws we should have been able to bring our guns in to protect ourselves and each other at events.”
And in response to media reports about the speed first responders took, she tweeted: “THIS IS WHY MORE PEOPLE SHOULD OWN GUNS so we can protect each other.”
Adrian Murfitt, of Alaska, was one of the massacre victims.
The 35-year-old was shot and killed while attending the concert with a friend, Brian MacKinnon. In a heartbreaking Facebook post Mr Mackinnon told how he “died in my arms”.
“He is one of the happiest people I know,” Mr MacKinnon told KTUU. “Always in a good mood, and was nothing less than my brother.”
He added: “the wrong person died.”
Mr Murfitt made the trip south to Las Vegas for two reasons – to enjoy the country music festival and also to celebrate a successful fishing season, which he had just finished.
He told the Alaska Dispatch News of his friend’s horrifying final moments. “We were taking a picture and it went through his neck.
Many people did their best to save him. “There’s a lot of amazing people – there was nurses, doctors, firemen. Everybody who was at that concert really jumped on it, did everything they could. We just couldn’t save him.”
Mr MacKinnon said a ricocheted bullet also hit the brim of his own hat, knocking it upward and off his head.
He said emergency service workers had to convince him to leave his friend’s body as the massacre continued.
“I just got up and kept looking around…There were just bodies everywhere.”
Sonny Melton, 29, Jordan McIldoon, 23, Quinton Robbins, 20, and Denise Gesford Chambers were killed when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on 22,000 people at a country music concert.
Melton was watching country music star Jason Aldean at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas Village with his wife when Paddock opened fire.
His wife Heather Gulish Melton told Fox 17 News “At this point, I’m in complete disbelief and despair. I don’t know what to say. Sonny was the most kind-hearted, loving man I have ever met. He saved my life and lost his.”
Melton, a registered nurse from Tennessee, “checked in” to the concert on Facebook, with loved ones expressing their condolences under the post.
“He saved my life. He grabbed me and started running when I felt him get shot in the back,’ Mrs Gulish Melton, a surgeon, told WSMV.
“I want everyone to know what a kind-hearted, loving man he was, but at this point, I can barely breathe.”
Jordan McIldoon, 23, of Maple Ridge in British Columbia, Canada, was attending the festival with his girlfriend, his parents told CBC.
They said he was a heavy-duty mechanic apprentice and about to start trade school.
“We only had one child,” they said. “We just don’t know what to do.”
According to a Facebook post by Heather Gooze, a woman who was on the scene, McIldoon died in her arms.
“Friends and family, I am OK. I am right outside of the festival grounds. We are not allowed to go anywhere. I am with a young man who died in my arms! RIP Jordan McIldoon from British Columbia. I can’t believe this just happened!!!” she wrote on Monday.
Quinton Robbins, 20, from Nevada, also died on Sunday night, with his aunt describing him as “the most kind and loving soul”.
“Everyone who met him, loved him. His contagious laugh and smile. He was truly an amazing person. He will be missed by so many, he is loved by so many,” Kilee Wells Sanders said.
Robbins was a student at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and worked as a recreational assistant at the City of Henderson.
“Quinton was a pay-it-forward kinda guy,” family friend Tyce Jones told Newsweek. “Always had a smile on his face and was a nice guy. He loved his family and loved to coach his little brother’s flag football team. He will be missed.”
More to come.