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At least 59 people, including one New Mexican, killed in Las Vegas shooting

KOB.com Web Staff
October 03, 2017 06:13 AM

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- A barrage of bullets at an outdoor country music festival sent shivers down spines around the world Sunday night when a gunman fired shot after shot from a Las Vegas hotel at a crowd of thousands down below.

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At least 59 people, including one New Mexican, died when Las Vegas authorities said Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. More than 500 others were injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

Police believe Paddock broke out a window in the room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, using an arsenal of weapons including automatic rifles on the country music festival concert below.

SCHOOL EMPLOYEE FROM GALLUP KILLED

The shooting hit close to home for New Mexico. A Gallup woman was among those killed in the attack, and many other New Mexicans attended the concert.

Lisa Romero-Muniz, who worked at Miyamura High School, was among the slain victims. Gallup-McKinley County Public Schools confirmed Romero-Muniz served as a discipline secretary at the school.

Mike Hyatt, the interim superintendent for Gallup-McKinley County Public Schools, reflected on the loss to the Gallup community during a news conference Monday afternoon.

"She was not only an employee of our school district but was an incredible, loving, sincere friend, mentor, advocate for our students in the schools that she worked in," Hyatt said. "As a colleague, she was outgoing, kind and considerate of all those she worked with."

Administrative officials ordered these flags at half-staff to honor Romero-Muniz, who had been with the district for about 14 years. She started at the elementary school, then she moved to the middle school and most recently continued her career at Miyamura High School.

Students at the school were not gathering or talking with friends on Monday. Instead, they were remembering Romero-Muniz.

They described Romero-Muniz as an extremely kind and caring person. They said students felt comfortable going to her, asking for help, even sharing secrets. Students said she always knew what to say and always knew how to help.

"I had office aid and she was always talking to me and a lot of kids would go to her about their problems," student Mohammad Oweis said. "If they had lunch hours they would always go to her and talk to her."

In response to this tragedy, the crisis response team has been activated, meaning counselors will be offering students support as needed. Hyatt said the district will continue to provide grief counseling, during school time and even after school hours for staff and students.

School officials allowed students to leave after receiving the news Monday morning in order to deal with the situation.

Romero-Muniz's husband Chris tells KOB that he did not know where his wife's body was.  He was working with local authorities to find out how he can reunite with his wife.

Many gathered for a vigil at Miyamura High School to remember Romero-Muniz. Many students called her their second mom. They said she never met a stranger. and she was the type of educator that treated her students as family. Her family was her life.

Now her many friends are asking her students to continue what she taught them.

"Maybe she didn't have a lot of money, but she was rich in people," said Georgianna Desiderio, a friend. "She loved everybody and not only the people but the students. She always said that all the kids are my babies and I'm going to see them grow up."

'A LOT OF FLIGHT OR FIGHT'

In a news briefing Monday afternoon, the Las Vegas fire chief stated more than 108 firefighters responded Sunday night to the scene and treated gunshot wounds, trample injuries and shrapnel wounds. When police located and entered the room Paddock was in, he took his own life.

"We heard people running and yelling," said Priscilla Olivas, who was working at the music festival the night of the shooting. "People came up to me screaming and the reason they came up to me was because I had a walkie-talkie for work. They thought I had more authority and I could help better. All I could do was call for an ambulance."

Events like the country music festival attract a wide swath of people, especially in a world-class city like Las Vegas.  The festival attracted people from communities coast to coast.

"There's just a lot of flight or fight," said one witness, Sarah Haas. "Everybody just starts running. Everyone's on the ground. Everybody's yelling. Everyone's confused. No one knows what's really going on. Everyone thought it might have been fireworks, but it was, you know."

"You could hear the gunshots," added Sydney Sievers, another witness. "You understood what it was. You couldn't miss it."

As Monday evening rolled in, the first signs of hope arrived. Many turned to their faith in hopes their city heals, as well as the hundreds who remain in hospitals all around Las Vegas. At a candlelight vigil near the Stratosphere, a group gathered to find light in a dark time.

"In the city of Las Vegas, we've never had a tragedy like this, and this devastated everyone to have something of this magnitude happen," said Venitia Burton, who lives in Las Vegas. "But in these tragic times, it is important for the community to come together."

A family assistance and reunification center opened in Clark County, Nevada to help family members identify victims. According to a release from Clark County officials, the assistance center will help families acquire information about their loved ones and give them an opportunity to pass information to the coroner's office for identification purposes.

They've set up a phone number for families to call at 1-800-536-9488. For more information, click here.

Chris Ramirez is in Las Vegas covering the shooting and how it is touching the lives of New Mexicans. If you know of New Mexicans who attended the music festival, contact cramirez@kob.com.

Credits

KOB.com Web Staff

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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