California family remembers dad who died in Las Vegas shooting

Updated November 25, 2017 - 7:42 pm

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Hearing this hurts the heart.

“I just shut down,” says the son who is now fatherless, remembering the night of Oct. 1 as it unfolded like a waking nightmare at his California home. “I didn’t know what to think. I called my mom and she answered and you could tell she was messed up.”

Then his sister phoned from her Arizona dormitory. “She was crying. She kept asking me, ‘What’s happening? Why isn’t Mom answering?’ Then I had to tell her.”

Knowing it was shattering. Believing it was unthinkable.

“I thought, ‘My dad’s going to be fine, he’s a fighter, he’s so strong, he got shot but he’ll be fine, he will get help and everything will be all right,” says 20-year-old Jake Beaton, sniffles interrupting the tumble of words, the tears dotting his face. “But I guess it didn’t work out that way.”

Jake and his sister, Delaney, are now deprived of the man they cherished. Why? Because love, horror and excruciating irony collided when their dad, Jack Beaton, departed this world as the ultimate man of his word.

Years before, a pledge he made to his wife, Laurie — prescient of violence then, tragically realized now — still speaks to the invincibility of romance. And the poetry of two souls in love.

Recognizing the crack of gunfire, Jack laid the full weight of his body on top of the woman he had adored for 32 years — 23 of them as her husband — on the night of their anniversary. And on the night that made Las Vegas the epicenter of mass murder as the site of the worst such shooting in modern American history.

“A few years ago we were talking about how much he loved me and I said, ‘Jack, you love me so much,’” says Laurie, 49, from the comfort of her buttery-soft sofa nearly two months later. “He said, ‘Laurie, I would take a bullet for you.’”

Quickly, emphatically, Jake jumps in: “Even if it wasn’t for my mom, he was the kind of person who would have done that for anyone.” In hushed tones, Laurie recounts the details of that night:

“I said, ‘Jack, honey, those are real bullets,’ because I felt something go past my arm, but I didn’t think about it entering him. He was shot and he kept it quiet so I would not worry about him. But in hindsight, it seems it went past my arm into his left chest. He bear-hugged me and said, ‘I love you, Laurie.’”

Then the rain of bullets erupted anew amid screams and commands to take cover, forcing the mother of two to leave the side of her mortally wounded, 54-year-old husband

“Because of all the blood all over his face and him not moving, I think I knew. I held his arm and told him I loved him. I said, ‘I will see you in heaven.’ But I knew I had to go because of the children.”

‘Wish you were here’

Weeks later, Jake struggles to keep his voice from quavering, his tears from forming. Sometimes he succeeds. Right now, he doesn’t. Mom pats his hand and, shakily, he gets it out.

“Every day, I wake up and come out of my room, hoping it goes away, but it doesn’t,” he says, pausing to accommodate the catch in his throat. “Every day I talk to him and ask him to show me signs of advice.”

As the national headlines fade, the still-fresh pain and gaping emptiness settles into a daily ache for Jake, Laurie and 19-year-old Delaney. Though away at Arizona State University, where she studies psychology, Delaney emails her mom to be sure her love for her dad is expressed to a reporter, including noting the song that will forever remind her of him: “Wish You Were Here,” by Pink Floyd.

“Me and Dad’s relationship wasn’t like a normal father-daughter relationship — he was my best friend as well,” Delaney writes. “He was so easy to talk to, always so happy and positive. He was the dad and man everyone loved and looked up to and that love will continue forever.”

Test of strength

How does a tight-knit family, now bereft of its beloved patriarch, carry on after life leaves such an ugly scar on their psyches? How, people ask, can you go on? Frustratingly obvious as it sounds, you go on by going on. By following the advice of a sign among the photographic memories of Jack spread out over the mantelpiece: “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” By coping with the cruelties. As this family with two children on the cusp of adulthood reconfigures itself, one cruelty is the irony of an “empty-nest” syndrome turned upside-down, haunting Laurie. Nests aren’t supposed to be emptied like this.

“I had a very full household,” Laurie says, quietly, in the tastefully appointed Beaton home in an immaculate neighborhood straight out of Hollywood’s suburban fantasies. Inside, however, resting royally in the center of a table, is a testament to tragedy, but also to love: a black urn, inscribed, “Jack Beaton,” containing his ashes.

“Jack was a family man who wanted to have dinner at the table, the four of us every night,” Laurie says. “When Delaney went away in August (to college), I had a really hard time with that. And Jack would say, ‘Honey, that’s OK, we had so many years without the kids and then we gave so much to the kids. But now you and I are going back to how it was, doing so many things, just you and I.’ It makes me really sad we didn’t get a chance to do that. Now it’s much quieter around the house. There’s no dinner around the table so much anymore.”

However, there is still Jack. Each night, before bed, Laurie kisses the urn.

‘He was my best friend’

Jack Beaton: construction industry pro who, his widow says, was meticulous in his work. “I would sometimes say, ‘How come you spend so much time on this job, how come you’re not faster?’” she says. “And he would say, ‘Because I’m doing it like it was our home, Laurie.’” Jack Beaton: kindhearted gentleman, even when caring for his neighbors’ dog, which, while his owners were away, suffered a seizure and died. “Jack hosed everything down and covered him up so the flies wouldn’t be on him, and waited for (the neighbors’) mom to come, and sat there with her and listened to stories about him,” Laurie says. “She said, ‘I barely knew this man and it was so comforting.’”

Jack Beaton: Dad. “He was my best friend, a hundred percent, he was an amazing dude, the best dad I could ever ask for,” says Jake emphatically. Breaking into a smile, he recalls how his dad took him to the local skate park, rode dirt bikes with him every weekend, and coached his baseball team, the latter sparking his love of the game — though it didn’t begin that way.

“I was playing in the outfield and I’d get bored out there. He’d see me messing with butterflies,” Jake says, letting go a laugh that, for the moment, drains away the sadness. “He said, ‘All right, we’re getting you behind the plate, because as the catcher you’ll be in every play.’ I fell in love with baseball after that.” Even a potentially macabre memory — of preparing to ride mountain bikes down Mammoth Mountain — sparks a grin.

“We were in the gondola (lift) and we thought we weren’t coming home again because the wind was so crazy,” Jake remembers. “We just hugged each other, we said everything, and we made a little video for my mom. But then we were fine, so we deleted it and just had a good time. It was a really good day.”

Fatherly advice also impacted the young man, as Jack urged him to seek an education. And though Jake, who currently works at a local barbecue restaurant, dropped out of Cal State Bakersfield, he plans on returning to study business.

“He was very proud I was going to college,” he says. “Growing up, he would tell me, ‘I’m preparing you to be a man, I’m going to teach you to do things on your own.’ I kind of brushed it off, but he said it was important to him that I would be OK in life without him. It definitely came into play sooner than we thought.”

Back home, going on

Certain days are harder than others. “Ever since the incident, I’ve learned not to enjoy Sundays,” Laurie says, referring to the night of the slaughter. Holidays are tough, too. such as Halloween, when Jack would decorate their home in scary style, and the family combined it to celebrate Delaney’s Nov. 1 birthday. This year, however, the calendar provided an awful reminder on that day. “It was the one-month anniversary,” Laurie says. “That was very hard.” Christmas looms next, without Jack.

While she is returning to her job in the human resources department at Aera Energy, a Bakersfield oil and gas company, Laurie says she and Jack had made financial plans “in case something happened.” Still, she has her eye on Delaney’s tuition at ASU, and then medical school after that, so her daughter can pursue her goal of becoming a psychiatrist. “She had been in a sorority for two weeks before this happened. I didn’t know they did a GoFundMe account on her behalf, and they’ve raised $40,000. That is about a year of tuition, so I am putting it toward that. We will make it work.”

Jake prefers to wrestle with this new reality without professional help. “I have plenty of people to talk to. They are not professional but they are my friends,” says Jake, whose sense of family, already solid, has strengthened even more. “I’ll never take anything for granted, that’s for sure.”

Jake hadn’t been living full time with his parents recently, often staying with his friends or his girlfriend. “My mom and dad would invite me to dinner and I was like, ‘Oh, I have too much homework or I’ve got to work.’ Now I will definitely be there anytime my mom asks me to dinner or anything.” He has since returned to his old room. “I have to be here. This is where I belong at the moment.”

Adds his mom: “This boy has not left my side. I want him to continue to live his life, but I am so appreciative and thankful that I have him. He is my rock and we are going to get through it together.”

Though the love and devotion is eternal, Jack is gone. Now the Beatons go on.

Contact Steve Bornfeld at Follow @sborn1 on Twitter.

Remembering  the  victims
Local Videos
Property Brothers visit Michael’s in Las Vegas Valley
Twin brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott are the hosts of Property Brothers, the hit HGTV show where they help couples find fixer-uppers and transform them into dream homes. In 2018, the brothers collaborated with Michael's on their first custom framing program. Today they're releasing new frames into that collection that range from natural to bright looking. Jonathan and Drew discuss their brand and why frames was something they wanted to pursue. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
I-15 traffic jam
A semitrailer stopped in the middle of Interstate 15 near Charleston Boulevard has slowed traffic in central Las Vegas Wednesday morning, April 17, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rainy Tuesday
The Las Vegas Valley saw cooler temperatures and rain Tuesday afternoon. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Tiger Woods Bettor Collects
James Adducci bet $85k on Tiger Woods to win the Masters. He collected his $1.19M from William Hill sports bet in the SLS today. (Mat Luschek /Review-Journal)
Endangered frogs released at Springs Preserve
Dozens of endangered Relic Leopard Frogs were released at the Cotton Grove inside Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, Thursday, April 11, 2019
Vintage World War II aircraft arrive at Henderson Executive Airport
The Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom tour comes to Henderson Executive Airport with a B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, B-25 Mitchell, P-51 Mustang and a P-40 Warhawk. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Honoring Pearl Harbor veteran
Ed Hall, a Pearl Harbor veteran in Las Vegas, is honored with Quilt of Valor during an event in a Las Vegas. (Erik Verduzo/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV Anthropology professors excavate Maya ruin site of Caracol, Belize for 36 years
The husband-and-wife team of UNLV anthropologists has spent several months a year at the remote site of Caracol in the jungles of Belize, excavating ruins and uncovering secrets from the region’s once-dominant civilization. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Things to remember when adopting a rabbit this Easter season
As Easter and spring time approach, some people may be tempted to adopt a rabbit for the holiday. But like adopting any animal, it is important to be responsible and know what a rabbit requires to be a happy, healthy pet. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bike Giveaway in Las Vegas - Piero’s Italian Cuisine
Evan Glusman of Piero’s Italian Cuisine hosted a party in the restaurant’s parking lot to distribute over 150 bikes to local kids. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Charleston/I-15 ramp configuration
The new Interstate 15/ Charleston Boulevard ramp configuration was unveiled Tuesday morning. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Northwest Vegas farm's abandoned pig problem
Someone abandoned a several hundred pound pig at Sharon Linsenbardt's farm. Her farm is a rescue for animals, but she doesn't have room or resources to take on another such creature, so she's asking the community for help. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Chalk Talk: Black Student Union
Students talk about the Black Student Union in the latest episode of Chalk Talk. (Angus Kelly and Amelia Pak-Harvey/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Individuals with Parkinson's participate in dance class
Pamela Lappen leads a dance class for individuals with Parkinson's Disease at the Nevada Ballet Theatre in Las Vegas, Thursday, March 28, 2019. Caroline Brehman/Review-Journal
Animal Foundation Preps Pups For Best In Show
The Las Vegas Animal Foundation is preparing its prime pups for their 16th annual Best in Show event, which takes place at the end of April. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Dog Yoga At Hydrant Club
The Hydrant Club in downtown Las Vegas, is a social club for dogs and their people. Recently the club started hosting dog yoga. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Butterflies At The Springs Preserve
The butterfly habitat is now open at the Springs Preserve. Learn about butterflies and take in the peaceful surroundings. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
The Bellagio Conservatory's spring display has a Japanese theme
The Bellagio's conservatory is hosting around 65,000 flowers, to form a Japanese theme this spring. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bonnie Springs closes (Caroline Brehman/Kimber Laux)
Bonnie Springs Ranch near Las Vegas officially closed its gates Sunday, March 17, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Honoring a fallen North Las Vegas Police officer at his namesake school
The 20th Annual Raul P. Elizondo Honor Day celebrates the fallen North Las Vegas Police officer's legacy at his namesake school. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Windy day in Las Vegas Valley
The Review-Journal's camera on the under-construction Las Vegas Stadium the was buffered by high winds on Wednesday, March 14, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
March gloom falls on Las Vegas
After a rainy overnight, gloomy skies hover over Las Vegas Tuesday morning. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
John Katsilometes gets his head shaved at St. Baldrick's
Las Vegas Review-Journal man-about-town columnist John Katsilometes gets his head shaved by former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman during St. Baldrick's Foundation shave-a-thon on the Brooklyn Bridge at New York-New York in Las Vegas Friday, March 8, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Blue Angels take flight over Las Vegas Strip
The Blue Angels’ U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron flew their signature Delta formation over a part of the Las Vegas Strip, McCarran International Airport and east Las Vegas and were scheduled to fly over Hoover Dam. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Gross World Records
A group of about 20 children gathered around a TV at Sahara West Library on Feb. 27 for a history lesson on the most disgusting world records.
Graduation for Renewing HOPE program
The Renewing HOPE program graduation for homeless who spend nine months in Catholic Charities program. Graduates are preparing to enter the workforce. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Car crashes into Starbucks near Las Vegas Strip
Lt. William Matchko of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police gives details about a car crashing into a Starbucks at Sahara Avenue and Paradise Road, near the Las Vegas Strip, on Friday, March 1, 2019. (Jessica Terrones/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Car crashed into PT’s Gold
A 60-year-old man who police believe was impaired drove into a PT’s Gold at Silverado Ranch and Decatur boulevards Thursday night, Metropolitan Police Department Lt. William Matchko said. The driver was hospitalized and is expected to survive. A man inside the bar was hit by debris but drove himself to the hospital, Matchko said. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Driver crashes vehicle into PT’s tavern in south Las Vegas (part 1)
A driver suspected of impairment crashed a vehicle into the wall of a PT’s Gold tavern, at 4880 W. Silverado Ranch Blvd., in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Driver crashes vehicle into PT’s tavern in south Las Vegas (pullout)
A driver suspected of impairment crashed a vehicle into the wall of a PT’s Gold tavern, at 4880 W. Silverado Ranch Blvd., in Las Vegas on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
It is a rainy Valentine's Day in Las Vegas - Video
These scenes come from the Las Vegas Stadium LiveCam (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Crime Videos
Richard Cleaves of Pahrump arrested in burglary on former Binion property
Updated press release regarding burglary on a former Binion property: Richard Cleaves, 56 of Pahrump, has been arrested on a warrant for burglary, conspiracy to commit grand larceny, and destruction of property. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Judge denies bail for suspect charged in the killing of California doctor
Diana Pena, one of three people charged in the killing of a California doctor, is being held without bail after her fingerprints were found on the car where Dr. Thomas Burchard's body was discovered.
Ex-NFL player and girlfriend held without bail in child’s death
Former professional football player Cierre Wood and his girlfriend, Amy Taylor, face charges of murder and child abuse in the death of Taylor's 5-year-old daughter. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NHP identifies man who was shot by trooper on Mount Charleston
Nevada Highway Patrol updates the media on the April 2, 2019 officer involved shooting on Mount Charleston. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas court grants '90 Day Fiancé' defendant continuance
"90 Day Fiance" stars Colt Johnson and his mother Debra left the Las Vegas Justice Center Thursday, after the court granted Larissa dos Santos Lima a continuance in her misdemeanor case, in which she is accused of domestic violence against Colt. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Details released on in-custody death
Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank addresses media about details of an in-custody death at Clark County Detention Center on March 31. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Man hurt in shooting with Nevada troopers at Mount Charleston
A man was injured in a shooting involving Nevada Highway Patrol troopers Tuesday afternoon at Mount Charleston on state Route 157 near Echo Trail. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Officer wounds inmate during escape attempt
An officer fired on an inmate who stole a vehicle and tried to flee, ramming several cars and leading officers on a chase until he ran out of gas.
Man fatally shot during a 'beer skip'
A store clerk is being questioned after a man was fatally shot during a robbery at a gas station Friday. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Las Vegas police give details on fatal shooting
Metro homicide Lt. Ray Spencer gives a briefing on a fatal shooting near downtown Las Vegas that occurred on March 27, 2019. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas community pays tribute to boy killed by car
The community joined friends and family at Wilbur & Theresa Faiss Park, Wednesday evening, to remember the boy who was struck and killed by a car crossing South Fort Apache Road from Faiss Park, near West Maule Avenue, on Monday. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Person of Interest Found For Downtown Las Vegas Bar - Video
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is seeking help to find a person of interest in a potential homicide case at a bar in downtown Las Vegas.
Metro briefs media on OIS near downtown Las Vegas
Police address media about officer-involved shooting that started on Maryland and Vegas Valley, and concluded downtown, near the Golden Nugget.
Update on OIS at Vegas Valley and Maryland
The incident began at the Steinberg Diagnostic Medical parking lot and ended downtown.
Amy And Spencer Powell Recount Hit And Run
Amy Powell and her son Spencer recount the day Spencer was hit by a truck while riding his bike. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jeremy Burch of Tonopah arrested in Amarillo, TX
Jeremy Burch of Tonopah was arrested in Amarillo, TX on a Nye County warrant for open murder, burglary, obtaining money under false pretense, use of credit card w/o owner consent, and destruction of evidence. (Nye County Sheriff's Office/Facebook)
Metro Presser For OIS 6 (Full)
Metro police address the officer involved shooting that took place on March 19, 2019.
Metro Presser For OIS 6
Metro police address the officer involved shooting that took place on March 19, 2019.
Domestic disturbance call ends in suicide
A man died by suicide after police tried negotiating with him outside of his ex-girlfriend’s home on March 13. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
20-year-old armed robbery suspect shot by Las Vegas police
A 20-year-old armed robbery suspect shot by a Las Vegas officer on Saturday night is also accused of burglarizing a Boys & Girls Club minutes before the shooting.
Metro briefing on OIS near downtown Las Vegas
Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Kelly McMahill briefs the media on a officer-involved shooting near Ninth Street and Bonanza Road on March 19, 2019. Mike Shoro/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Man robs restaurant with large kitchen knife
On March 16, 2019, at approximately 6:00 PM, an armed robbery occurred at a local restaurant located near East Charleston and Eastern. The suspect entered the business with a large knife, demanding money from the registers. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Metro Addresses Ois At Bellagio (Full Press Conference)
Las Vegas Metro police address the officer involved shooting that took place on March 15, 2019, at the Bellagio.
Metro Addresses OIS At Bellagio
Las Vegas police address the officer involved shooting that took place on March 15, 2019, at the Bellagio. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Parents facing murder charges held without bail
Lakeia Walker and Ricky Beasley, the parents of missing 3-year-old Zaela Walker, appeared briefly in North Las Vegas Court on camera from the Clark County Detention Center as they made their first appearance in court.
Metro briefing on OIS at Bellagio
Metro Capt. Nichole Splinter briefs the media on an officer-involved shooting in front of the Bellagio on Friday, March 15, 2019. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DUI Blitz
Metropolitan Police Department Traffic Sergeant David Stoddard discusses a law enforcement “DUI blitz” on Thursday, March 14, 2019, in the Las Vegas Valley. About 100 Metro and Nevada Highway Patrol officers searched the valley for impaired drivers between 5 p.m. Thursday and 3 a.m. Friday. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Commercial Robbery On 3000 Block Of North Las Vegas Blvd - VIDEO
On February 19th, 2019, at approximately 10:23 am, a robbery occurred to a business located on the 3000 block of North Las Vegas Boulevard. The pictured suspect entered the business, approached the counter and pointed a firearm at the victim demanding money. The victim complied and the suspect fled with an undisclosed amount of money. No injuries were reported.
Alexis Plunkett denied bail
Alexis Plunkett, the jailed Las Vegas defense lawyer enmeshed in a pair of felony cases, will remain behind bars while awaiting trial, a judge decided Thursday. (Mat Luschek /Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Bounty Hunter Chases Down Porch Pirate
A would-be thief tried to steal a package from the home of Alex Mazzola. Mazzola, a former bounty hunter, chased after the suspect.
Atkinson pleads guilty
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge Monday.
Atkinson pleads guilty to wire fraud charges
U.S. Attorney’s Office announces plea deal for charges against former Nevada Senate majority leader Kelvin Atkinson during a press conference on Monday, March 11, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DEA Launches New Program To Combat Opioid Epidemic
The Drug Enforcement Administration is launching a new effort in Nevada to combat the opioid epidemic.
Home Front Page Footer Listing