weather icon Clear

58 victims remembered, honored across Las Vegas Valley

Updated October 1, 2019 - 12:56 pm

Joe Robbins stood at the microphone, the sun rising behind him on the second anniversary of the Las Vegas massacre. His 20-year-old son, Henderson resident Quinton Robbins, was one of the 58 people killed during the Oct. 1, 2017, attack. More than 800 also were wounded.

“For a resilient community such as ours, no anniversary is more terrible than the one that recalls how your neighbors and guests were wantonly slain,” the father said, “even while their hearts were singing out in joy as they listened to live music with their friends and loved ones.”

Several hundred in the crowd before him quietly listened. They included uniformed officers, state and local leaders and the families of the 57 others killed on the final night of the Route 91 Harvest festival.

“How is it that anyone should perish in such circumstances?” Robbins asked. “How is it that our families, this community and the community’s guests should suffer as we have?”

The quiet crowd had no answer. So a few remarks later, Joe Robbins asked for hope.

“There is so much anger, evil and sorrow in the world, and we must do our part to make life better for others,” he said.

The sunrise remembrance ceremony Tuesday was the second of its kind hosted at the Clark County Government Center. Speakers this year also included Gov. Steve Sisolak, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo and Clark County Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick.

In teary remarks, Sisolak recalled his memories that night but also tried to recall the good.

“After the tragedy, two years ago today, many around the country remarked on the strength of the Vegas community, almost as if they were surprised that Las Vegas is in fact a tight-knit community,” Sisolak said.

“The nation discovered what we knew all along,” he continued. “That beyond the neon signs, we are a city of neighbors that look out for each other, that have each other’s backs, that have an immense pride in the place that we call home.”

The ceremony included 58 seconds of silence and ended with a slideshow of 58 photos, one for each victim, displayed on a bright LED screen on the stage. As the images came and went, a group of Las Vegas Academy of the Arts students sang “Amazing Grace.”

In the crowd was Mynda Smith, who last year spoke on stage. Her sister, Neysa Tonks, 46, of Las Vegas, died in the shooting.

“I think that any way to talk about the 58, talk about survivors, talk about what we’re all going through, I think it’s a beautiful thing,” Smith said.

After the ceremony, Smith and Joe Robbins hugged, chatting with several other families. Over the past two years, Smith has worked to track down all the families in an effort to connect and keep up with one another.

Together, they created a private Facebook group that allows relatives of the 58 to share photos and updates.

“I want people to feel connected,” she said. “I want them to feel loved. And I want them to understand that Vegas in itself is still taking care of those 58 families.”

‘Love wins!’

Following the ceremony, two Route 91 survivors became engaged, the county announced on Twitter. They were from California and visited Las Vegas both for the 2017 festival and the Tuesday remembrance.

Inside the government center, the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center hosted a free wellness event after the sunrise ceremony. It featured areas for journaling, scrapbooking and meditation as well as a banner on which people left messages of hope and remembrance.

“Love Wins!” one message read. “Be a light in a world of darkness!”

Comfort dogs Star, an Australian shepherd, and Berlin, a yellow Lab, also were on hand.

“The dogs are there to simply let people relax and smile,” said Bari Boersma, a volunteer canine handler for HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response. “You get everything, from people who are really happy and petting the dogs, and people who get very quiet.”

There also was an opportunity to “pay it forward” through the Stars of HOPE project. Those passing through could paint messages of inspiration on wooden stars that will be delivered to other communities struck by tragedy: El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; and Gilroy, California.

‘North Las Vegas Strong’

The wellness event was one of several hosted around the valley this year on the second anniversary of the mass shooting, including a busy blood drive at University Medical Center and a separate remembrance event at UNLV.

Smith, Tonks’ sister, later attended the dedication of a new memorial bench at Craig Ranch Regional Park in North Las Vegas.

The metal bench, adorned with the Strip skyline under an American flag sky and the words “North Las Vegas Strong,” was commissioned by the city of North Las Vegas and Chris and Debbie Davis, Tonks and Smith’s parents.

Tonks was a mother of three whose “light shines on, always,” Smith said at the event. The new bench sits between a duck pond and a playground.

Nearby, a freshly planted tree sits in a planter that bears seven hearts, which represent the victims from Nevada, and 51 stars, which represent the victims from California and several other states and also Canada.

The day of remembrance came to a close at the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden, where at 10:05 p.m., Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman began reading aloud the names of the 58 killed in the attack, which began exactly two years prior.

Tall, glass vases held the 58 candles, and it was hard for volunteers to keep the flames lit in the breeze. The crowd of more than 200 was silent as 58 rings of a bell echoed over the garden.

It took a few minutes for people to speak again when the ceremony was done. Goodman, who in her speech said the city will never forget the 58, promised to keep the flames going as family members began walking around.

“We will stay here to make sure their candles remain vibrant,” she said, ending the ceremony.

Contact Rachel Crosby at rcrosby@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3801. Follow @rachelacrosby on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writers Mary Hynes and Alexis Egeland contributed to this report.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Local Videos
Jeopardy! James competes with G2E attendees
Jeopardy! champ James Holzhauer, appears at the G2E IGT booth to help celebrate launch of Jeopardy! slot machines and compete against attendees in mock games of Jeopardy!
Security guard killed in Las Vegas shooting honored
Lucky's unexpected surprise
The Ball family, who already deals with challenges most families don’t, got an unexpected surprise from a security systems worker, who brought more than just peace of mind, he brought love to one lucky little boy.
Gilcrease pumpkin patch is open - VIDEO
Gilcrease Orchard's pumpkin patch is now open for the season. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas firefighters battle a fire in a commercial area - VIDEO
Clark County and Las Vegas firefighters battle a fire in a commercial area at 824 E. Sahara Ave. in Las Vegas on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Time lapse of RiSE Las Vegas festival - VIDEO
This is a time-lapse video during the sixth annual RiSE Las Vegas festival at the Jean dry lake bed on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lanterns released into Nevada desert as part of RiSE Festival - VIDEO
Thousands of spectators released giant lanterns into the sky at a dry lake bed near Jean, Nev., Sunday night as part of the RiSE festival. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Halloween Parade at Downtown Summerlin - VIDEO
Halloween festivities are in full swing at Downtown Summerlin with the first week of the month-long parade. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Funeral procession for Robbie James Pettingill - VIDEO
A motorcade of Henderson fire and police personnel escort the body of firefighter Robbie James Pettingill past Fire Station 82 and Fire Station 97, where he was last assigned, to Central Christian Church on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Failure not an option for Mayor Carolyn Goodman facing breast cancer - VIDEO
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and her oncologist talk about Goodman's second bout with breast cancer. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hacienda bridge closures for events at Allegiant Stadium - VIDEO
The bridge at Hacienda Avenue over Interstate 15 will be closed during major events at Allegiant Stadium. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Backyard Adventures at the Springs Preserve - VIDEO
"Backyard Adventures" is the latest temporary exhibit at the Springs Preserve. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Parents of teens who were killed in California crash visited the crash site - VIDEO
Parents of Las Vegas teens who were killed in a fiery crash last year in Huntington Beach, Calif., visited the crash site on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutefsya
Bani Duarte convicted in California crash that killed 3 Las Vegas teens - VIDEO
Bani Duarte, the drunken driver who caused a fiery crash in Huntington Beach, California, last year that killed three Las Vegas teens, was convicted of second-degree murder on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wrap-up of Oct. 1 observances - VIDEO
A wrap-up of memorials and observances on the second anniversary of the mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, Oct. 1, 2019. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Victims of Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas remembered - VIDEO
Remembrance video honors the 58 people who were killed at the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017, on the Las Vegas Strip. (Clark County)
UNLV music program rings bell 58 times to remember victims of Oct. 1 shooting - Video
UNLV music students will ring a set of chimes 58 times in honor of the victims of the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Memorial bench unveiled at North Las Vegas park to honor Route 91 victims and survivors - VIDEO
The family of Route 91 victim Neysa Tonks worked with the city of North Las Vegas to erect a memorial bench overlooking a pond at Craig Ranch Regional Park. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gov. Steve Sisolak and Joe Robbins Speak at Oct. 1 Remembrance Ceremony - Video
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak and Joe Robbins speak to the crowd at the Clark County Government Center Amphitheater to remember the victims of the 1 Oct. shooting that occurred in 2017 at the Route 91 festival. (Michael Quine and Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Day 6 of Bani Duarte trial in California
Police say Bani Duarte, 29, was drunk when she drove into a car carrying four Las Vegas teens, killing three, in Huntington Beach, California on March 29, 2018. She is being tried on murder charges in Santa Ana. (Renee Summeropur/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Troy and Shannon Zeeman talk about life after Oct 1 shooting - VIDEO
Troy and Shannon Zeeman of Garden Grove, California, discuss life after Oct 1 shooting in Las Vegas. The couple started Security Consultant Zeeman, dedicated to active shooter preparedness training. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Reflecting on Oct. 1: How Metro officers saved a life
Oct. 1 was the second day on the job for Officer Brandon Engstrom who saved a critically injured woman amid the chaos of the Route 91 shooting. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Healing Garden remains a gathering place
It's been two years since the mass shooting of Oct. 1, and the Healing Garden has grown and evolved. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police investigate fatal crash - VIDEO
Las Vegas police investigate fatal crash at the intersection of West Sahara Avenue and Steve Rigazio Court in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Reflecting on Oct. 1: How one officer saved a life
Oct. 1 was the second day on the job for Officer Brandon Engstrom who saved a critically injured woman amid the chaos of the Route 91 shooting. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
76 animals confiscated from North Las Vegas home - VIDEO
Service dogs, birds, a pig and other animals were confiscated from the North Las Vegas home of an animal activist and former actress. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mother, child and 41 dogs rescued after North Las Vegas house fire - VIDEO
North Las Vegas PIO Patrick Walker talks about a house fire in North Las Vegas where a mother, her child and 41 dogs were rescued on Sept. 24, 2019. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Miracle Flights greets patient ambassador Michael Perrino in Las Vegas - VIDEO
The Miracle Flights team welcomes 16-year-old Michael Perrino and his family to Las Vegas for their annual Swings for Wings fundraiser at TopGolf. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Storm Area 51 Day 3 Update 1
Area 51 Basecamp in Hiko is canceled after a lackluster Day 1, according to event executive producer Keith Wright. Alienstock in Rachel will go on for its third day. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Live music and EDM dominate the night on day 2 of A’Le’Innstock
After sunset bands rocked the crowds at A’Le’Innstock in Rachel, Nevada on the second night of the event.
Cat survives 15-mile commute in car bumper
A Las Vegas Review-Journal employee was surprised to learn she had a passenger during her 15.5-mile commute to the office on a September Sunday. (Tony Morales & James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Shortages of OB-GYN doctors in the Las Vegas Valley - Video
Dr. Michael Gardner discusses the shortages of OB-GYN doctors that will happen and what steps are being taken to entice them to come or stay in the Las Vegas area.
Southern Nevada is in a West Nile virus hot zone - VIDEO
Southern Nevada, along with Central Arizona and Southern California, make up a “hot zone” that is reporting the highest number of mosquito-borne West Nile virus cases in the country. The Southern Nevada Health District recently reported 28 cases of West Nile virus in Clark County. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul Browning Released from Ely State Prison - VIDEO
Paul Browning greets his mother, Betty Browning, after being released from Ely State Prison. Browning served 33 years on Nevada’s death row. (Rachel Crosby/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mother upset over her child's cornea donation being sent overseas - Video
Lindsey LiCari, the mother of Ayden and founder of Ayden's Army of Angels, is upset that her child's corneas were sent overseas and was told that she would be able to see her son's eyes again. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Aviators splash pad lets fans stay cool
Las Vegas Ballpark’s splash pad area is the perfect place to keep cool while enjoying the game. (Cassie Soto/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Earthquakes felt in Las Vegas strained major fault, study says

The earthquakes that hammered the Southern California desert near the town of Ridgecrest last summer involved ruptures on a web of interconnected faults and increased strain on a major nearby fault that has begun to slowly move, according to a new study.