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Thousands walk on Strip to remember Las Vegas shooting victims

Updated October 16, 2017 - 6:38 am

Legions of people lined up Sunday night under the flashing neon lights of Las Vegas Boulevard, coming together for a walk paying tribute to the victims of the Oct. 1 mass shooting; 336 hours had ticked past since tragedy struck the Strip.

Donning “Las Vegas Strong” T-shirts, many with the names of all 58 victims of the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting two weeks earlier, walkers stepped off from Circus Circus for a trek of more than 3 miles south to Mandalay Bay.

“This wasn’t about a political or religious affiliation. It’s a community event,” organizer Jess Domkowski said. “They don’t need to have anything in common. They just need to love Vegas.”

Domkowski’s blog, BuzzedVegas, used to be a forum for talking about the best pizza or tacos in town. That shifted in the wake of the shooting, when Domkowski used the online platform to spread information about how people could help victims.

“It’s cool that something like this came from me writing about pizza,” the Las Vegas native said as people kept streaming through the Circus Circus plaza to line up for the walk Sunday evening. “I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life.”

As they walked, participants spoke about the 58 people killed, the hundreds injured and the first responders who came to their aid.

Michelle Sedar isn’t able to give blood, so she said she showed her support by marching down the Strip on Sunday night. She said she was “heartbroken and devastated” over the shooting.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Sedar said, her eyes welling with tears.

“I’m so proud to be a part of Vegas. I think a lot of people, tourists, don’t realize how strong Las Vegans are.”

Estimates placed the number of people walking Sunday night in the thousands. The crowd crawled south along already bustling Strip sidewalks, with Metro officers driving alongside the route.

Vegas Strong T-shirts that many bought to wear for the walk cost $20 apiece, with the proceeds destined for the GoFundMe account Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak started to help shooting victims. The fund had raised $10.8 million as of Sunday.

Christopher Philippsen returned to the Strip, where he had been working the tour shift for Big Bus Tours the night of the shooting. He was dropping off his last group of passengers on the north end of the Strip when gunfire erupted. As he drove northwest that night, he saw many police cars speeding in the opposite direction.

“It’s very moving, touching, to be a part of this,” Philippsen said of the walk. “I think it’s wonderful how the community has come together after this tragedy. I’m very proud to live in this city.”

A blue pickup truck blasting a bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace” drove past the crowd in front of Caesars Palace, drawing whoops and shouts of “Vegas Strong” from walkers.

They passed memorials to victims along the boulevard, and a sign for the Route 91 music festival.

The walkers who made it to the lot across the boulevard from Mandalay Bay by 10:05 p.m. observed a moment of silence before dispersing,

Contact Jamie Munks at jmunks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @JamieMunksRJ on Twitter.

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