Losing wife in Vegas massacre, man fights for hotel security
February 22, 2018 10:27 PM
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Fifty-eight trees are planted at a park and memorial garden in Las Vegas. There's one for each victim who died when a gunman opened fire on a concert in October.
The area included a remembrance wall adorned with photos and memories for those who lost their lives that night, including New Mexico native Lisa Romero-Muniz.
"She was my sidekick. She was my rock. She was everything," said Chris Muniz, Romero-Muniz's husband who was by her side when she died.
Muniz met her at a time when he said they were both going through troubled relationships.
"She had just got out of hers. I was on the verge of getting out of mine," Muniz said. "Fate brought us to each other."
Three years later, they married and spent their honeymoon in Las Vegas. The city would quickly become a go-to spot for vacations.
"I was always trying to get her to go, 'Want to go to California?' 'No, let’s just go to Vegas. It’s just down the road, six hours away. Let’s just go there,'" he said.
Making the trip to Las Vegas for a country music festival on their seventh wedding anniversary only seemed right. There was no way of knowing the hell that they would be put through.
During the first round of gunfire hailing down on the crowd, the couple ran toward the exits along with everyone else. He was trying to get Lisa out of the park when the second round of gunfire sprayed in their direction and over them.
"She died in my arms," Muniz said. "She took her last breath after she got hit. I was trying to get her to safety and over a barrier. She was one leg over and the shooting started again. She dropped down and when I dropped down with her is when she got hit."
An off-duty doctor arrived to provide help. Muniz said he couldn't find a pulse.
"He looked at me straight in the face and said, 'I'm sorry, but your wife is gone,'" Muniz recalled. "At that point, he grabbed a hat nearby and put it over her face. I sat there with her for I don’t know how long. At that point, I can't remember if there were still gunshots going on or not. But two guys were like, "You need to get out of here. It’s not safe,' and they pretty much drug me away from her.”
He said he spent the following hours walking around and trying to find someone who could help, and trying to cope with how suddenly the woman he called his rock and his sidekick had been taken.
Since that night nearly five months ago, Muniz has buried his wife in Gallup and started a new life without her. He's back at work, but the pain is ever-present. Now he's trying to channel some of that pain into a new fight that he hopes ends with improved security at hotels in Las Vegas and elsewhere.
"There are a lot of security flaws they have or lack of security that they need to address," Muniz said, referring to MGM, which owns the Mandalay Bay Resort where the gunman opened fire from.
He has hired Albuquerque-based Branch Law Firm to represent him in a lawsuit against MGM after he said Mandalay Bay security missed red flags – such as the 10 suitcases filled with guns that hotel bellhops themselves took up to the shooter’s room.
"It could have been prevented," Muniz said of the attack. "Had they been on their toes and had their security right … we’d still have Lisa with us and 57 other angels would still be with us."
If any lesson has been learned in the weeks and months since the Las Vegas tragedy, it's that gun violence is a real problem in the United States. With that problem comes the uncertainty of a tomorrow.
"Tell your loved ones that you love them every day because tomorrow is never promised," Muniz said. "You can be here one day and gone the next. You don’t know. I wasn't expecting Lisa to be gone like this."
There is a GoFundMe page set up in Lisa's memory. It says the money will go to future education expenses. She worked for Gallup McKinley County School District.
Updated: February 22, 2018 10:27 PM
Created: February 22, 2018 07:12 PM
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