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The Prosecutor’s Office Responds to the call for help in Las Vegas Mass Shooting

On October 1, 2017, a mass shooting occurred during the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas with over 20,000 people in attendance. In all, 58 people were killed, 546 were injured and countless concert-goers and first responders were psychologically impacted.

la1Due to the vast number of victims needing assistance, the Nevada Attorney General requested victim advocates from across the country to volunteer.  Within hours, Michigan assembled a team of six people, including a Victim Advocate from the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office. We arrived in Las Vegas the same night the request went out, ready to report for work in Las Vegas the following day.  The Michigan group included Karen Alvord from Delta County, Stella Chivikas from Kalamazoo County, Sheryl Hadwin from St. Clair County, Brenda Quiet from Washtenaw County, Roberta Haney-Jones from PAAM and John Lazet from the Attorney General’s office. 

Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office, Brenda Quiet shares her experience:

We arrived at the Family Assistance Center in Las Vegas and was briefed on our role in helping victims.  Our group was charged with listening to victim’s story, completing a needs assessment, directing them to the available services and reconnecting victims to the recovered property.  There were representatives from numerous agencies and services including medical assistance, counseling services, financial assistance, victim compensation for funeral expenses, medical/dental, mental health expenses, lodging, transportation, just to name a few.  In addition, the FBI was present to help with the recovery of personal items and rejoining these items to the victims.  They were also present to meet with victims and provide victim assistance.  The goal was to have all services available in one location to streamline the process of accessing services for victims.  The entire process was victim driven, allowing them to be in control of the process, taking as much or as little time as they needed.  No cell phones were permitted for volunteers, so we could be completely engaged with victims.  Through the stories I heard, I was amazed by the strength, courage and selflessness of people sacrificing and helping others during the event and after.  People risked their own lives to help complete strangers.  Their stories moved me in ways that I could only hope to emulate. 

I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of assistance and aid by the Las Vegas community and the entire country.  It was inspiring to witness the community and the country rally and support those that needed help and healing.  People from across the country came together to help others, making donations and working long hours without being asked.  It helped to restore the belief that people are kind and good.

When we left after closing on October 14th, about 3,000 victims had been served by the Family Assistance Center, with over 1,500 victims being served during our four days on site.  This assistance would not have been possible without the assistance of volunteers from around the country.  Through the trauma and sadness, survivors were overwhelmed by the outpouring of help when Las Vegas needed it most. 

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