Hundreds of students and community members gathered outside the Joe Crowley Student Union on Tuesday, Oct. 3, for a candlelight vigil held to honor those affected by the mass shooting in Las Vegas the previous Sunday.
The vigil started with a moment of silence, followed by speakers from the local community offering words of comfort to the crowd.
“Tonight we think of fellow Nevadans in a city that was plunged into shocking terror and we offer our prayers and condolences,” said Vice President of Student Services Shannon Ellis.
Ellis also said that about 4,000 students about a fifth of all students at UNR are from the Las Vegas area.
Those who attended the vigil were offered candles by the Associated Students of the University of Nevada. However, so many people came that some attendees had to share candles while others used their phone flashlights instead.
Attendees were also able to sign a banner that was brought to Las Vegas on Thursday. The banner was given to the Public Education Foundation to bring to their counseling assemblies at schools in Las Vegas. It was then placed at the memorial the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. Another banner signed by ASUN officers was given to the Consolidated Students of the University of Nevada, the student government of UNLV.
“We woke up that morning and heard the devastating news and it was like ‘What can we do?’” said Speaker of the ASUN Senate, Hannah Jackson. “We knew so many people were grieving and we really wanted to have a space for them to be together and unify as a campus.”
Jackson said that ASUN is working with university services to better and extend the services available to students in the wake of the shooting.
Dr. Angie Taylor from the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees led the candle-lighting ceremony as UNR’s Musical Therapy club performed “Hallelujah” as the vigil concluded.
One UNR student was shot and a Truckee Meadows Community College student was killed at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Sunday.
Savanna Chasco, a 20-year-old student at UNR, was shot twice in the back.
“I’m a very strong believer that everything happens for a reason,” Chasco said to ABC News. “There’s not much of a reason that something like this should happen, but you should always have something to hold onto, a positive mindset. I hold onto the fact I do have a bullet in my back still, but I’m walking and I’m talking and that’s what I’m so grateful for right now.”
A GoFundMe page was set up by Chasco’s friend to help with her medical bills. The original goal was to raise $5,000. As of print time, the page had raised almost $19,500 of the new $20,000 goal.
Austin Meyer, a 24-year-old TMCC student, was killed during the shooting. He had moved to Reno from Marina, California. His sister, Veronica Meyer, told KSBW, the local NBC affiliate in Salinas that her brother looked forward to opening an auto repair shop after graduation.
People outside of the Nevada community have also offered their sympathies and traveled to Las Vegas. President Donald Trump visited with injured concertgoers on Wednesday.
“Hundreds of our fellow citizens are now mourning the sudden loss of a loved one—a parent, a child, a brother or sister,” Trump said in a speech at the White House on Monday. “We cannot fathom their pain. We cannot imagine their loss. To the families of the victims: We are praying for you and we are here for you, and we ask God to help see you through this very dark period.”
Jason Aldean—the headlining performer during the shooting on Sunday returned to Las Vegas a week after the shooting to visit injured concertgoers at University Medical Center.
“We hurt for you and we hurt with you, but you can be sure that we’re gonna walk through these tough times together every step of the way,” Aldean said on Saturday Night Live the day before he returned to Las Vegas.
Madeline Purdue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @madelinepurdue.