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Victims of Las Vegas mass shooting remembered at Anchorage vigil

  • Author: Marc Lester
  • Updated: October 6, 2017
  • Published October 5, 2017

Sharolyn Smothermon, left, joins Brian Montalbo, center, and his mother Sylve Montalbo at the vigil. Brian Montalbo was a friend of Adrian Murfitt, who was killed in the Las Vegas shooting. (Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News)

About 40 people gathered Thursday on the Delaney Park Strip in downtown Anchorage to remember the Alaskans who were killed in the Las Vegas mass shooting this week.

Robin Braden suggested the candlelight vigil on an Anchorage Facebook group called Scanner Joe. The idea gained support quickly, she said.

Robin Braden speaks at a vigil to remember Alaskans killed in the Las Vegas mass shooting. (Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News)

Braden didn't know Anchorage residents Adrian Murfitt and Dorene Anderson, who were killed when Stephen Paddock fired into the crowd at a country music festival Sunday night. But Braden purchased dozens of candles and spoke a few words to remember them Thursday.

"I just thought it was important for us to get together as a community and let those people's families know, 'We're thinking about you. We're behind you,' " Braden said.

Braden read the names of each person killed in the shooting, beginning with the Alaskans. Then the group lit candles and observed a moment of silence. Moments later, a few people shared thoughts and remembrances. Others, overcome with emotion, were unable to speak.

"We're here for Adrian," Sylve Montalbo said. She was joined by her son, Brian Montalbo, who was Murfitt's friend.

"I used to love having Adrian come over and give me a hug when he walked in the house," she said.

Kelli Turnbow, second from right, holds a candle with Julie Brophy, right. Turnbow attended the concert in Las Vegas where the mass shooting occurred. (Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News)

Brian Montalbo, who had planned to travel to Las Vegas but ultimately couldn't go, said he has appreciated being able to connect with friends and others in the community during a difficult week.

"It makes you realize you're not alone in this world," he said.

Julie Brophy held the arm of Kelli Turnbow, who attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert that came under gunfire. Brophy spoke up to say that each of the many thousands of people who attended the concert will need support after the incident.

Turnbow recalled searching for her daughter, Christina Hoglin, in the chaos and confusion after the shooting started.

"She took off on me and all I knew is I had to go get her. I had to find her. I couldn't let her be out there alone," Turnbow said. Hoglin joined Turnbow at the vigil Thursday.

"There was a lot of Alaskans there, a lot of people there," Brophy said. "And it's going to take a whole community of everybody supporting them. It's going to be a long haul."

Michelle Victory and Michael Fox attend the vigil Thursday. (Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News)

Michael Fox and Michelle Victory didn't know either of the Alaskans who were killed. Nonetheless, they said they've been distraught all week.

"This is the first time I think we can both say this really shook us to the core," said Fox, who is from Las Vegas. "There's a lot of mass shootings in our country. This one, hearing it on the news, it went down your spine."

Victory said she was inspired to bring her two daughters to expose them to something positive despite the cruelty that occurred in Las Vegas. Attending the the vigil in person, she said, had an emotional impact on them.

"Even though we're far, far away from there … we come and support and show our love."

Though the event was brief, the group lingered to talk and hug as night fell.

The small crowd lingered to talk at the conclusion of the short vigil.  (Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News)

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