Fourth year after Las Vegas massacre: "Be there for one another"

People are still healing, but some are still struggling. Friday's gathering was to remember the victims of the Las Vegas Strip massacre that killed four years ago.

Fourth year after Las Vegas massacre: "Be there for one another"

"I was injured. "Those physical injuries have healed," Dee Ann Hyatt, Dee Ann Hyatt's daughter who was also wounded in the shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, said. "But our family will always be haunted by the scarring memories."

Hyatt spoke with several hundred people at a sunrise ceremony held at the Clark County Government Center, Las Vegas.

Before a screen in an outdoor amphitheater, she remembered Kurt von Tillow, her brother who was killed while driving from Northern California. The screen displayed photos of the deceased. Two other people died in the same night. More than 850 people were also injured.

Hyatt stated that four years later, we still feel the effects of what happened that night. "People thrive, while people struggle with mental and physical pain. Our lives are forever altered."

The morning memorial featured "Four Years After," a song sung by Matt Sky. It was written for the anniversary by Mark R. Johnson and released with multi-Grammy winner Alan Parsons.

This was the first of many events scheduled for Fridays in Las Vegas, as well as a livestream to California's Ventura County hosted in part by a support organization called "So Cal Route 91 Healing." They also planned an afternoon ceremony in Thousand Oaks.

Tennille Peeira, director at the Vegas Strong Ressiliency Center in Las Vegas, stated that approximately 60% of tickets to the tragic concert were purchased by Californians.

At a downtown Las Vegas Community Healing Garden, the names of the deceased will be read starting at 10:05 p.m. when the shooting began.

Pereira is also chairwoman of the Clark County committee that is working on plans for a permanent memorial. Pereira said that next year's fifth-anniversary may include a dedication of the memorial in a corner of the former concert venue, which is located across Las Vegas Boulevard from Mandalay Bay resort. There, the shooter spent many days gathering assault-style rifles and windows from his 32nd floor suite before unleashing death.

Jill Winter, a Nashville, Tennessee resident, recalls the almost 10-minute-long barrage of rapid fire gunshots that she fired into the crowd at the open-air concert.

Winter, like many others around her, thought it was fireworks at first. People were then killed and injured. Winter ran for cover, but police SWAT officers arrived to tell her to run. She recollects screaming, "Make him stop!" He must stop!

Winter, now 49 years old, advises others who were part of the Route 91 Harvest Festival's deadly night. She explained that "Router" sounds more like "survivor".

She said that "there is a lot healing happening," in a telephone interview this past week. There are 22,000 people who were there. This doesn't include any other people who were affected... first responders and hospital employees as well as ordinary citizens driving down the Strip. All these people, all those stories.

Stephen Paddock (64-year-old former postal worker, accountant, and real estate investor) was the gunman. He committed suicide before police arrived. Federal and local investigators found that he planned the attack meticulously and seemed to be seeking notoriety. However, they couldn't identify a motive.

His name is being withheld by police officers, elected officials, and others involved in the resiliency centre.

MGM Resorts International, the owner of the hotel, and the concert venue, has donated 2 acres (0.8 ha) to the memorial. It is located just off the Strip, at a spot close to a church that provided refuge and medical assistance during the shooting.

In an out-of court settlement that was reached one year ago and which avoided negligence trials in many states, the company and its insurers are close to paying $800 millions to over 4,000 claimants. The company denied any liability.

Robert Eglet, a Las Vegas lawyer who spent over a year organizing the settlement, stated Thursday that it was good for victims and the community. MGM did the right thing by doing it.

Pereira stated this week that she experienced a change in her emotions about the anniversary.

"Wherever the community is, it is different. Pereira suggested that maybe it's because the (coronavirus pandemic) is over and people are starting to feel normal again.

"We still remember, we still respect, we still honor. It's not as raw and unsettling as it used to be. It feels more peaceful and hopeful."

It was the first time since the shooting that Winter had not been in Las Vegas to celebrate the anniversary. She stated that she would be meeting up with fellow "Routers", Friday, at a Memphis restaurant owned by a friend.

"It's always emotional. It's also very heartwarming," she stated. "It's amazing that we have come together and not allowed evil to win," she said.

Hyatt spoke at the memorial and said that four years of experience have taught her that certain things cannot be fixed.

She said, "All you can to do is be there and support each other." Listen, cry, hug, support, and love one another. It's important to show patience, love and compassion to all people you meet. You don't know their struggles.

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