Navy Veteran Survives Afghanistan, But Dies In Las Vegas Shooting
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. We're reporting from Las Vegas overlooking the casinos of the Las Vegas Strip. From this window we can look out and see a miniature Eiffel Tower and Planet Hollywood and also electric signs appealing for blood donations and prayers for the victims of Sunday night's shooting. The many visitors here include Brandi Miner (ph), who was in a taxi trying to reach her hotel on Sunday night when a man opened fire on a concert.
BRANDI MINER: All these people were running in front of our cab. We had ambulances flying behind us. And we got out and everybody's running, hiding behind cars, and we really didn't know what to do. So we ran across the street, and the cops told us to get in the nearest casino as far as we could.
INSKEEP: Tracy Hart (ph) and Joanne Wilson (ph) had just traveled from Manchester, England, when we heard from them. They heard news of the shooting just before their flight took off.
TRACY HART: When we took off, we had heard that the death toll was two.
JOANNE WILSON: Yes, it's surprising. We landed and it was, like, a lot higher.
HART: The death toll was 58 when we landed, and that was quite shocking. We feel like we've come to a...
WILSON: It's somber, really.
HART: ...A very subdued - a very subdued Las Vegas.
INSKEEP: And now that number has gone from 58 to 59. One of them was Christopher Roybal. NPR's Ina Jaffe has been trying to find out more about him, and Ina, who was he?
INA JAFFE, BYLINE: Well, Steve, he was a Navy veteran who'd served in Afghanistan. He was 28 years old and lived in Corona, Calif. Now, I should say the police aren't confirming any of the names of the dead yet. Roybal's death was confirmed by his mother, Debbie Allen, in a Facebook post. She wrote, (reading) today is the saddest day of my life. My heart is broken in a billion pieces.
The pictures she posted of him showed him smiling, a husky, bearded guy with lots of colorful tattoos. But she called him my munchkin.
INSKEEP: Oh, but there's something maddening about someone surviving Afghanistan and then losing his life while listening to country music.
JAFFE: Yeah. That wasn't lost on one of the guys he served with. His name is Matthew Austin. He wrote on Facebook that he and Roybal had joined the Navy together. He said, (reading) it breaks my heart and infuriates me that a veteran can come home from war unharmed and events like these occur. Shipmate, you were taken too soon.
INSKEEP: Well, you know, we learn a lot about people in these situations from what they put on Facebook. You're telling me that is our primary news source here. Does Facebook or other social media tell you anything about Christopher Roybal himself?
JAFFE: Well, he had his own Facebook account, and in what appears to be his most recent post, there's a description of what it's like to be shot at. As a veteran, this was something he'd been asked about a lot, I guess, so he wrote that during his first firefight he was (reading) excited, angry and manic.
But he said, (reading) eventually anger is all that's left.
The post ends by saying that (reading) being shot at is a nightmare no amount of drugs, no amount of therapy and no amount of drunk talks with your war-veteran buddies will ever be able to escape.
INSKEEP: That's NPR's Ina Jaffe. Ina, thanks.
JAFFE: You're welcome.
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