San Diego Victims in Las Vegas Concert Shooting - NBC 7 San Diego

San Diego Victims in Las Vegas Concert Shooting

Several San Diegans are among those injured and killed in the mass shooting on October 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    San Diegans Gather for Candlelight Vigil for Victims

    One San Diego woman told NBC 7’s Astrid Solorzano, she had left just hours just before the shooting in Las Vegas.

    (Published Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017)

    Several San Diegans were among the 58 people killed and more than 500 wounded when a hail of bullets flew into a crowd of 22,000 concertgoers October 1 near the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.

    Here are their stories.

    Tina Frost:

    Photo credit: Family photo

    Tina Frost, 27, is recovering at Sunrise Hospital after being shot in the face. Family friend Amy Klinger said Frost is currently in a coma, but her vitals are good.

    Frost's boyfriend, 28-year-old Austin Hughes, picked her up with the help of another concertgoer and ran with her in his arms when the shooting started, Hughes' father, Darren told NBC 7.

    Hughes put Frost into his lap and held onto a truck that was full of other victims heading to the hospital.

    "He really had one arm around her, trying to keep the blood stopped and trying to hang on to the truck. He supposedly hung on to some other girl's legs as the driver began tearing off, down the road," his father said.

    According to the family’s online fundraising page, a bullet was lodged in Frost’s right eye. Surgeons removed the eye and replaced with an implant for the time being. Frost has sight from her left eye, the page said.

    Family and friends are holding a vigil at her bedside while she is in a critically stable condition in the hospital’s ICU unit.

    Darren said he is proud of his son.

    "They're just a great couple and I believe she will be a daughter-in-law of mine someday," he said.

    See her story here.

    George Sanchez:

    George Sanchez of Rancho Bernardo was struck in the arm by a bullet. The SDG&E employee said that's when he knew he and his girlfriend needed to get out of the area.

    “I turned around and I didn't see her. But I didn't know if she was behind me or in front of me at that moment so I started going back and it was just more people falling in front," Sanchez said.

    His girlfriend Johanna Ernst said they finally reunited and she was concerned about the bullet wound.

    “When I finally got a hold of him and he told me he was okay, I kept thinking is he really okay or is he just telling me he's okay," she said.

    Sanchez says a paramedic at the shooting scene quickly put a tourniquet on him. An ambulance took him to the hospital for the care he needed.

    See his story here.

    Jennifer Irvine:

    Photo credit: Jennifer Irvine Instagram

    Jennifer Irvine, a Family Law and Criminal Defense attorney, posted photos of herself making silly faces, finding new friends and celebrating on Instagram, the same day that she was shot and killed.

    Irvine earned her bachelor's degree from the University of San Diego and graduated from California Western School of Law in San Diego in 2005, a school official confirmed.

    "She was a kind, sweet person that cared about others and wanted to help people," Ashby Sorensen said, a classmate who shared many classes with the victim at Cal Western and later worked with her. 

    See her story here.

    Zack Mesker:

    Photo credit: Family photo

    Zack Mesker, 21, was attending the festival and was shot in the back as he tried to escape. The bullet went through his lower back and abdomen and out his leg.

    "I got a call from his girlfriend that what had happened at the concert and that Zack had been hit. He was in triage and they were asking her to run, to leave the scene," his mother said. 

    Mesker's mother she was able to FaceTime with her son after surgery Monday and he told her he loved her.

    Mesker's father flew out of Carlsbad early Monday to be by his son's side. An online fundraising page has been set up to help with medical expenses. 

    See his story here.

    Jeffrey Koishor:

    Photo credit: NBC 7

    Jeffrey Koishor, 25, of Valley Center, was shot twice while protecting a woman he had met. Koishor suffered a shattered fibula and still has remnants of a bullet in his hip. 

    "I got shot both times while I was laying on top of this girl," Koishor said. "And she's very grateful and she says I'm her hero. It's pretty awesome." 

    Koishor said he was shot once in the leg when he jumped on the woman to protect her. As they both tried to run for cover, another bullet struck Koishor when he jumped on her to shield her from gunfire. 

    But he told NBC 7 Tuesday, there were a lot of heroes who also helped him during the chaos. 

    "It was hectic but it all happened so fast. I mean, I didn't really have time to panic. I was trying to stay as calm as possible," Koishor said. 

    He said he and the woman finally made it to a bar. A man picked him up, put him on the bar and used his shirt to make a tourniquet, Koishor said. 

    He told NBC 7 others then carried him back to the parking lot to assess the wounds. He was taken to the hospital by another person in an SUV. 

    "It just goes to show there are good people in the world--people who are willing to sacrifice it all to save people," he said.

    An online fundraising page has been started to help the family with medical expenses.

    CVPD Agent Fred Rowbotham:

    Photo credit: Fred Rowbotham

    Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) Agent Fred Rowbotham was in Las Vegas celebrating his 45th birthday with his wife, Katie, and another friend couple. As a gift, his wife bought tickets to the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival. Rowbotham and his wife and friends were about 100 feet from the stage underneath the speaker towers on the left while country music star Jason Aldean was singing. Suddenly, the agent heard the first round of bullets being fired.

    “I immediately recognized the sound, but in my mind, I was trying to explain it away,” Rowbotham said in a prepared statement released Wednesday by the CVPD. “I looked at the stage for pyrotechnics which may explain away the sounds. I didn’t see anything. I looked at the nearby speaker tower, thinking perhaps there was a problem there. The sounds stopped and I thought that perhaps it was an electrical problem, but then the sound of fully automatic rifle fire started again and we knew immediately what it was.”

    Rowbotham and his friend grabbed their wives and yelled, “We need to go!”

    The open-air venue was large and there was no place to take cover. Rowbotham said others around them froze in place, unsure of what to do. Some were huddled on the ground, not moving. Others were running.

    As a best practice, the agent had already identified the exits at the venue prior to the shooting so he knew where to go. With the gunfire coming from the west, the group ran east.

    “The sounds were obviously coming from the area of Mandalay Bay. We both immediately recognized that as where they were coming from,” Rowbotham recounted at a news briefing Wednesday in San Diego.

    As they ran toward the exit, they could feel things hitting their backs – maybe chippings from the asphalt as the bullets impacted the ground.

    "As we were running towards the exit we could feel – it felt like BBs hitting us – in the backs of the legs and the back,” he recalled. 

    The group could also hear bullets flying by. The first volley seemed to target the stage area, where a large crowd had been gathered. The second volley, according to Rowbotham’s account, seemed to target people who were fleeing.

    "Maybe it was the acoustics of where we were, but the sounds were very pronounced of where it was coming from and it was – you could see people being shot and it seemed very apparent – it was not somebody on the ground," he added. 

    The agent’s wife fell; he held onto her and pushed her to continue toward the exit. At that moment, Rowbotham felt a bullet graze his left hip.

    "And then I could feel in my back, lower left hip, I got hit by something far more substantial. It almost felt like a baseball bat; I'd been swung [at] and hit," he added.

    He was bleeding but kept running away from the Las Vegas Strip and toward the McCarran International Airport.

    About 100 others began following Rowbotham’s group. He repeated, “We’ve got to keep moving.”

    As they ran, seriously wounded victims were being put in pick-up trucks and ambulances.

    The chaos and confusion grew by the second.

    “There were people saying there's an active shooter at the Hooters Hotel; there was somebody saying there was an active shooter at the New York, New York Hotel; there was somebody saying there was a bomb threat at Luxor,” said Rowbotham.

    The group ran until they reached a security fence at the airport. Many in the group were falling from exhaustion. Someone in the group kicked in an emergency door and walked onto the runway where they saw three Las Vegas Police Department vehicles.

    The officers knew the group was coming from the scene of the active shooting and waved them to continue moving across the airport tarmac.

    Once safe, the group of about 100 stayed there for many hours, following social media for updates.

    From the airport, they could still hear the rapid, consistent gunfire, which Rowbotham said seemed to go on for about 20 minutes.

    Airport buses eventually rounded up the group and took them to the terminal. Rowbotham rented a car and took others with them to a friend’s house in Las Vegas. At this point, the group tended to their wounds.

    Rowbotham said no one could sleep that night.

    “As much as I try, I’ll never forget this birthday,” he told the CVPD. “The sound of automatic rifle fire, even in this line of work as a police officer, is very rare. The sound of hearing bullets whizzing by is something you never want to hear.”

    For those ever caught in this type of emergency, Rowbotham said you must quickly determine a course of action and remember this motto: "Run, hide, fight."

    "Take a moment to look at your surroundings and figure a way out. There’s always more than one way out of the building," he said.

    In this case, Rowbotham knew his best option for survival was to collect those nearby and run to safety.

    "Hiding is not an option; it was get distance from where the shooting was occurring," he said. "There's no way to fight back when someone is shooting at you from high ground like that."

    The agent called the ordeal absolutely terrifying.

    “I’ve never been in a circumstance that I would liken to this,” he said.

    Elizabeth Carvalho, Briana Waris & Michelle Kenbeek:

    Chula Vista residents Michelle Kenbeek (l), Elizabeth Carvalho (m) and Briana Waris (r), survived the Las Vegas massacre. Carvalho was shot in the foot.
    Photo credit: Briana Waris

    Chula Vista residents and lifelong friends Briana Waris, 28, Michelle Kenbeek, 29, and Elizabeth Carvalho, 29, share a love for country music. The trio had booked their trip to Las Vegas six months ago to attend the Route 91 Harvest festival.

    “We love it, that was our thing, going to country concerts,” said Carvalho.

    The friends were enjoying the performance by Jason Aldean when, suddenly, they heard the loud pops of gunfire. Along with the crowd, the women ran for their lives and, in the chaos, were separated from one another.

    “We all took off and that was the last moment we saw each other,” Waris recounted.

    “And I felt so guilty just running; we were running for our lives,” Carvalho added, holding back tears.

    Carvalho was shot in the foot. Complete strangers asked if she was alone and helped her. A man told her to grab onto his belt and link arms. The strangers ran with her, taking her to the safety of their hotel room.

    Waris was running in the street, disoriented and also alone. A family, including a nurse and off-duty police officer took her under their wing, hosting her over an air-conditioning unit. They told her to keep moving. The family then took Waris to their home.

    Waris and Kenbeek were not injured in the mass shooting. Carvalho was treated for her gunshot wound.

    The women said the concert shooting changed them forever. It also showed them the grace and love of total strangers.

    “There’s a new love for people that I never knew before,” Waris told NBC 7, crying. “We were saved by selfless strangers. They are beautiful people and that’s what came out of this event – the kindness of strangers – that they wanted to save human beings who they never met in their lives,” Waris told NBC 7.

    “This man unleashed pure hell in a big group of loving people and just showing and seeing all these people, what they did for others – just strangers – that just goes to show that amid everything wrong with this world, that love prevails – it really does,” Carvalho added.

    The women encourage people to perform an act of kindness and pray for the victims of the massacre. Carvalho said people should tell their friends and family how much they love them, always, and not to be angry, be kind, because everything could change in a split-second.

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