Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) held a candlelight vigil Wednesday Oct. 4, in the University Union (UU) Plaza in honor of those killed and injured during the Las Vegas shooting Oct. 1. The deadliest mass shooting in modern American history took place during Route 91 Harvest festival when Stephen Paddock killed 59 people and wounded over 500.
Some Cal Poly students attended the festival along with many friends and family members connected to Cal Poly community. Between 40 and 50 people attended the vigil.
“There’s so many students who went to bed watching Snapchat stories of their friends at this concert and woke up with 50 CNN or BBC news alerts that there was the largest mass shooting in American History,” ASI Board of Directors Chair and business administration senior Daniela Czerny said. “When you wake up and hear that you don’t know really where to place that in your heart. But one place we could think of was bringing our community together with something very simple.”
Nutrition sophomore Sarah Mack’s parents were at Route 91 when the gunman opened fire.
Santa Barbara residents Brian Mack and Lara Cerruti Mack were both injured during the massacre and are currently recovering.
Lara Cerruti Mack was grazed by a bullet that left a gash on the top of her head. After being stapled several times, Lara was released from the hospital. Brian received abdominal surgery after being shot.
Starting week three at Cal Poly, Sarah is now coping with her parents’ injuries and recovery.
“I am doing alright, just hoping my dad has a successful surgery and recover,” Sarah said before her dad’s surgery. “I am not sure how he is going to be so I don’t know if I can say he is going to be completely OK.”
Lara posted a Facebook status updating Brian’s condition after the surgery and said there had been no complications so far.
[aesop_quote type=”block” background=”#ebebeb” text=”#000000″ align=”left” size=”1″ quote=”The acts of heroism I saw last night and all night were so beyond words. So so thankful. I am so grateful to be here.” cite=”Lara Cerruti Mack” parallax=”off” direction=”left” revealfx=”off”]
The family has received support from friends and family both on social media and here on Cal Poly’s campus.
“The acts of heroism I saw last night and all night were so beyond words. So so thankful. I am so grateful to be here,” Lara said in her post.
At the candlelight vigil, ASI members gave the crowd black ribbons to tie along a rope in memoriam of the shooting victims.
“The black ribbons represent grief and mourning and we thought it would be neat if students paid their respects by tying their ribbons to the rope to visually represent our community,” ASI President and agricultural science senior Riley Nilsen said.
The vigil hosted multiple speakers, including San Luis Obispo mayor Heidi Harmon, Dean of Students Kathleen McMahon and Vice President of Student Affair Keith Humphrey.
In a passionate speech, Harmon asked those affected by the Las Vegas incident to take action.
“I hear a lot in times like these about thoughts and prayers,” Harmon said. “Thoughts and prayers are such an essential aspect of what give our lives value and meaning, but thoughts and prayer without action have done nothing to protect the thousands of people killed every year by gun violence in this country and they will do nothing to protect you if a gunman comes on this campus. There’s often a call for these times to not be politicized and I understand that. However, this is inherently a political issue and we must own and acknowledge that. There has been a universal lack of political will on all sides to meaningly address this issue. Parents will bury their children this week children will bury their parents. So after we take moments of silence, we must speak out and speak up to demand meaningful action on gun reform.”
President Jeffery D. Armstrong responded to the tragedy earlier this week and said the Cal Poly community stood by those affected.
“Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who were injured or lost their lives, as the pain they must be experiencing is beyond anything we can understand,” Armstrong wrote in a campuswide email.
The 64-year-old gunman’s motives for the attack are still unknown, but Paddock was condemned as a murderer by President Trump Monday when he commented on this tragedy as an “act of pure evil,” according to The Washington Post.
Local Vegas officials started a GoFundMe page to help support those who were affected by Sunday’s shooting. More than $3 million have already been donated towards the cause.
Blood donation centers have also been inundated with those helping survivors, according to NBC News.