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‘She was a beautiful soul’: More victims named in Las Vegas shooting

Families from California to Tennessee to Canada are going through the grim steps of recovering the bodies of their loved ones who died during the massacre at a country music festival in Las Vegas.

They were fathers and mothers, wives and husbands. A registered nurse from Tennessee died alongside the wife of a firefighter from Utah. A commercial fisherman from Alaska died alongside a special education teacher from California.

As of Tuesday, the death toll stood at 59, with more than 500 more still recovering from injuries sustained during the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said they have identified all but three of the victims.

Some relatives are flying into Nevada to help with the identification process. Some are working through the Canadian consulate to try and make arrangements. Many have created online fundraisers to help relatives get to Las Vegas, to pay for funeral expenses, and to help those left behind.

And one by one, their families are dealing with the agonizing process of adjusting to their new lives.

“She lived her life to the fullest. She was a beautiful soul,” said Janice Chambers, whose cousin, Carrie Barnette, was killed in the shooting. “Heaven gained a beautiful angel.”

Here is a look at some of the victims.

Sonny Melton, 29, Tennessee

When the bullets started raining down on the crowd in Las Vegas, Sonny Melton’s first reaction was to protect his wife.

“He saved my life,” Heather Melton said. “He grabbed me from behind and started running when I felt him get shot in the back.”

Melton lived in Big Sandy, Tenn., and was a registered nurse at Henry County Medical Center in Paris, Tenn., where Heather Melton is an orthopedic surgeon. The couple married in June 2016, according to the wedding website The Knot.

“We were the couple that never should have met, fallen in love or had a future together….but life is funny and we believe God brought us together as soul mates,” read their wedding page.

On Monday, Heather Melton said she was not yet ready to open up about what she went through.

“I want everyone to know what a kind hearted loving man he was but at this point I can barely breathe,” she wrote to USA TODAY.

Chris Hazencomb, 44, California

As the clock approached 11 a.m. on Monday morning, Maryanne Hazencomb stood in a Las Vegas hospital room and gave the order to disconnect the ventilator that was keeping her son alive.

Chris Hazecomb, 44, of Camarillo, Calif, had shielded his best friend’s wife after the shooting started. The graduate of Thousand Oaks High School, a sports junkie and country music fan, soon became the 59th victim in the shooting.

With a priest by her side, Maryanne said her goodbyes.

“You don’t expect your kid to go before you go,” she said Tuesday after returning to her Camarillo home. “He was good to everybody. He’d go out on the limb for everybody.”

Adrian Murfitt, 35, Alaska

For Adrian Murfitt, the country music festival was a group celebration after a successful fishing season off the Alaskan coast.

His sister, Shannon Gothard, said Murfitt was every bit the Anchorage native — he played hockey “since he was just a little tot” and would spend months at sea as a commercial fisherman. Gothard said her brother was even talking about going in with a friend to buy their own boat.

That all came to an end Sunday night when a man opened fire and Murfitt, 35, was shot in the neck while he stood near the stage. Gothard said the family was reeling, and she struggled to describe the kind of person he was.

“He was my brother, so of course I thought he was an arrogant little cuss,” she said, struggling to laugh. “But only I can say that cause he’s my brother. He had this big, jovial, goofy laugh. He’d always try to do the right thing. He had a big heart.”

Quinton Robbins, 20, Nevada

Robbins was an avid fisherman and snowboarder who spent his final moments at the concert with his girlfriend, his uncle said Tuesday.

The University of Nevada-Las Vegas student worked in recreation for the city of Henderson. Robbins, 20, talked about going into dentistry, but had started coordinating athletic programs and coaching a flag football team, making him reconsider his future plans.

According to Mike Wells, his uncle, Robbins stood up quickly to look for an escape route when he was shot in the chest.

“This kid was seriously the perfect kid!” Wells wrote on Facebook. “Had no enemies and treated my kids, his cousins, better than anyone.”

Heather Alvarado, 35, Utah

When news spread that a shooting was underway at the music festival, the Cedar City (Utah) Fire Department immediately sent crews to the home Albert Alvarado, a seven-year member of the department.

They knew his wife was at the show. Heather Alvarado ran an in-home day care center and worked with the department’s Ladies Auxiliary. The couple had three children who would come along when they went on cruises together.

By late Monday night, the word came: Heather was one of the victims.

“This is part of our family,” Fire Chief Mike Phillips said. “There’s no question that we are going to feel the soreness and loss from this senseless act of violence from this coward for years to come.”

Carrie Barnette, 34, California

Barnette bought a home in Riverside, Calif., last year and was working at the Pacific Wharf Café, a waterfront restaurant in the Disneyland companion park California Adventure.

Friends and family described her an upbeat, happy, animal-loving spirit who owned a basset hound and country music. On Sunday, she took a bullet to the left side of her chest and died with a friend by her side, according to her cousin, Janice Chambers.

News of her death quickly moved through her community and her company, even drawing a tweet from Disney CEO Robert Iger. “We mourn a wonderful member of the Disney family: Carrie Barnette,” he wrote. “Tragic.”

Rachael Parker, 33, California

The first person anybody walking into the Manhattan Beach (Calif.) Police Department saw was Rachael Parker, a civilian employee of the department who served as a records technician and the front desk clerk.

“She was one of the faces of the department,” said Kristie Colombo, the department’s community affairs officer. “She was always funny and smart and bubbly and always had a smile on her face.”

Parker was attending the music festival with three other department employees. One was an off-duty police officer who was shot — Colombo said he’s expected to recover. Parker died after being transported to a local hospital.

Colombo said the department was still in shock on Monday. The police chief went to Las Vegas to assist in the cleanup, and those those that remained struggled to cope with their loss.

“She knew and touched a lot of people’s lives over the years,” Colombo said.

Sandra Casey, California

Teachers at Manhattan Beach (Calif.) Middle School started their day Monday delivering tragic news to their students: one of their own died in the Las Vegas shooting.

Sandra Casey, a special education teacher at the school for the past nine years, was among those killed, according to the Manhattan Beach Unified School District. She was part of a group of school officials who attended the music festival.

The district released a statement saying Casey will be remembered for her sense of humor, her own continuing education, and, above all, her dedication to her students.

“We lost a spectacular teacher who devoted her life to helping some of our most needy students,” said district superintendent Michael Matthews.

Lisa Romero-Muniz, 48, New Mexico

Romero-Muniz, who lived in Gallup, N.M., spent all of her time around children.

She had children and four grandchildren. She worked as a counselor at elementary, middle-school and high-school levels for Gallup-McKinley County Schools. That explains why her colleagues, and her students, flooded social media with glowing tributes after Romero-Muniz was shot and killed in Las Vegas.

District superintendent Mike Hyatt said she, “was an incredible loving and sincere friend, mentor and advocate for students in many of our schools.”

Susan Smith, 53, California

Within hours of learning about the shooting, visitors started dropping off flowers outside Vista Elementary School, where Susan Smith was a popular office manager.

“She’s the hub…really the heart of the school,” said Jake Finch, a spokesperson for the Simi Valley Unified School District.

Smith, an ardent country music fan who was married with two adult children, attended the music festival with two friends from the school district. By Monday morning, the front office at Visa Elementary was filled with red-eyed parents and employees broken up over her death.

“She was wonderful,” Finch said. “She had a great sense of humor. She’s patient and kind.”

Contributing: Josh Susong, Ryan Randazzo, Yihyun Jeong, and Kaila White, Arizona Republic; April McCullum, Burlington Free Press; Wendy Leung, Ventura County Star; Bree Burkitt, The Spectrum.

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