Our city, the entertainment capital of the world; as we know it, was forever transformed the night of 10.1. Our community saw the meaning of #VegasStrong after the devastating tragedy. Being born and raised here in Las Vegas for 4 generations, it doesn’t matter much to me if you are a Las Vegas native or have moved here more recently; in more ways than one Las Vegas truly epitomized what the true definition of community means. With blood donation locations being overwhelmed with an influx of donations city wide, it was one of the first signals and apparent overwhelming means of humbleness that our entire community experienced during the following days after the 10.1 tragedy. For us local philanthropists, this is a given day in and day out; however, for many other locals, this didn’t fully resonate until after the 10.1 tragedy. Our community truly embodied and symbolized what it means to be a real Las Vegas local.
As a former restaurant manager and bartender, I remember all too well a previous active shooter incident in 2007 that took place at the New York, New York Casino upstairs by Coyote Ugly firing off shots inside of the casino, but nothing came close to the horrific awakening to the police scans of the 10.1 tragedy.
That night… at home and half awake, I can recollect hearing “active shooters at multiple casinos”. I remember thinking to myself “Oh my God, has terrorism struck in our backyard?” Most Route 91 Harvest Festivals, I was on location covering the event with one of our photographers and friends that I would see throughout the course of the event. I don’t think there was one Las Vegas resident that wasn’t shocked by the tragedy and devastated.
As Americans, we will never forget the 9.11 incident and many other mass murders that have taken place in our lifetime; one not any more horrific than the latter; however, because this particular incident being the most prolific and major mass shooting in the US, as well as being right in our very own backyard, our Vegas born and raised pride sept throughout the entire nation.
Our hearts truly came together when we saw the imagery from the media with the 58 tribute crosses strung along the patch of grass at the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign as well as the string of billboards dedicated to #VegasStrong. We were forever humbled by the outpouring of love and respect that not only our community, but our entire nation brought together and in specific, the Fox 5 Surprise Squad showed up in full force with a brand-new truck and trailer for Zanis and his charity, based out of Aurora, Colorado. Owner and operator, 66-year old retired carpenter, Greg Zanis, does this kind of tribute work for the various mass murders and tragedies that have happened here throughout the US footing expenses on his own dime. The founder started the initial cause after the murder of his step-father. Zanis drove nearly 2,000+ miles to deliver the 58 signs he dedicated in lieu of the Las Vegas tragedy that had taken place. With creative sponsorships like that of United Nissan, America First Credit Union, Albertsons, VONS, and more, they were able to gift Zanis with a brand-new truck and trailer to make his mission easier. Zanis has been contributing his own time, money and resources to create the crosses so graciously for tributes such as the 10.1 tragedy right here in our community and across the country for 20+ years and 20,000+ crosses.
To say our hearts were heavy and still are is an understatement. However, during times like these it was refreshing to see locals accentuating the positive and coming together the way we did. It makes me truly humbled and honored to be a local.
“As soon as an active shooter incident occurs, the FBI proactively assists our law enforcement partners to supplement resources as needed. In this case we sent investigators to the scene, stood up a command post, deployed evidence response teams, behavioral analysis and crisis management personnel. Another essential part of our operational response is our victim assistance program. The program provides a variety of support services to victims/family members, first responders, investigative teams, and other operational elements. OVA assets available to support active shooter incidents include our field office victim specialists and members of our Victim Assistance Rapid Deployment Team from around the country, who are specially trained to handle mass casualty incidents,” said FBI Special Agent Frederick Bradford.
“The most effective defense against crime is cooperation and we are extremely fortunate to have well-established and trusted partners in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Responding to the mass casualty that reigned over our city on October 1, 2017, required unity, collaboration and strong partnerships and I’m proud to say that these were already in place in Las Vegas,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse, Las Vegas Division.
The night of 10.1, we also had a tremendous response from UMC and our local medical professionals. “On the evening of October 1, UMC’s world-class team of medical professionals came together to save lives during our community’s greatest time of need,” said UMC Trauma Surgeon Dr. Brandon Snook. “At UMC, we found strength in the unwavering resilience of our patients and the overwhelming compassion of the community we serve.”
Our #RealVegasStrong event we hosted on September 28th at Tivoli Village is in honor of that. A strong way to come together and memorialize the victims, first-responders and our entire city. Las Vegas will forever be united and #VegasStronger with each passing year and we are humbled to be a part of it. We are all #VegasStronger, one year later.
by Candice Wiener