LAS VEGAS - Clark County Deputy Fire Chief Jon Klassen recalls a moment that occurred around 2 a.m.—just a few hours after the gunfire ceased at the Route 91 Music Festival. He calls it “one of the most meaningful, symbolic things” he has ever seen in 30 years in the business.
Klassen was working with other paramedics and a crime scene investigator, combing through the grisly aftermath of the concert grounds, helping to confirm fatalities when one woman in particular stood out.
“She just was so beautiful and peaceful,” Klassen recalls. “And quiet.”
He said it almost just looked like she was laying there, watching TV, when he noticed something around her eye.
“Just one tear drop,” he said, still sounding like he has trouble believing what he saw. He remembers reacting to it and just thinking, “me too.”
“I am so with you, dear.”
Klassen would soon learn that this woman, one of the 58 victims whose lives were cut short by a gunman perched in a hotel room, was 46-year-old Lisa Patterson. A wife. A mother of three.
Her husband, Robert, went through a 22-hour ordeal to track down his wife, as detailed in a heart-wrenching account in a local newspaper.
Upon hearing word that this deputy fire chief had something he would like to share if it’s something Lisa’s family would want to hear, Robert contacted Klassen.
“We had a great conversation. And it was comforting and closing and cathartic for him. And I was able to tell this 16-year-old kid, ‘Your mom was beautiful, and peaceful and quiet.’”
The two have spent some time together since that initial phone conversation, and Klassen now considers Bob Patterson a friend.
Despite the fact that it has been four weeks since the attack, very little information has come to light and many questions remain, including the timing of when security guard Jesus Campos, the first to arrive at the gunman’s room, arrived on scene. Authorities have offered varying accounts in the weeks since. There is also still no word on a motive.
But none of that frustrates Klassen. He says these things take time and that investigators are doing their jobs as best they can.
He prefers to focus on the good he has seen in the community since the attack, because he says that makes the healing process easier.
“I think that people are helping us heal--and healing themselves in the process—by doing good things for other people.”
Will Las Vegas rebound?
“Absolutely,” he said, and added without missing a beat, “We already are.”