Churchill bells toll for Las Vegas shooting victims

The bell tolled for each victim Tuesday morning at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Fallon.

The bell tolled for each victim Tuesday morning at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Fallon.

Church bells in western Nevada tolled Tuesday morning for the 59 victims of Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Both Fallon’s Holy Trinity Episcopal and First Southern Baptist churches had prayer services, while Churchill County School District is conducting a Las Vegas blood drive Wednesday morning at the high school from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Principal Kevin Lords said about 30-40 slots were added Monday for community members who want to give blood. The reservation number is 800-696-4484 or they can call the school at 775-423-2181.

The Rev. Trudy Erquiaga said Episcopal churches nationwide including the one in Fallon tolled their bells at 9 a.m. for the victims. Five people took turns pulling a rope to ring the bell at the historic church that was built in 1906.

“it’s very humbling,” Erquiaga said, expressing her feelings after a vigil to remember the victims. “The closer to home, the harder it hits.”

She said the church will hold a grief session today at 4 p.m. to reflect not only on the Las Vegas shooting but also other situations.

Chris Miller, associate pastor at First Southern Baptist Church, said Sunday’s shooting spurred him to have a prayer service at noon on Monday. As visitors sat and reflected, an instrumental version played “All is Well with My Soul.” Miller said as a nation, we need to pray for our leaders, first responders and medical personnel who are tending to the injured victims.

“Doctors and nurses are trying to give them a fighting chance to survive,” Miller said.

One woman prayed for the first responders.

“Without them, more people would have died,” she said.

Pastor Sam Stanton left Monday to fly to Las Vegas to be part of a ministerial crises team.

Meanwhile local reaction been somber for the people who died when a lone gunman opened fire on country fans attending a concert on the Las Vegas Strip.

Mayor Ken Tedford offered his condolences to the victims and people of Las Vegas who have stepped up to assist.

“My heart is heavy. You have great people in a great city,” Tedford said. “They’re Nevadans who have been attacked. When incidents like these strike at home, they affect us more deeply.”

Tedford praised both Clark County law enforcement personnel and elected officials for their response, which he called immediate and caring. The Fallon mayor and Nevada native said he is confident the governor and elected officials will do the right thing.

Tedford lamented the number of victims and the number of families who have been affected. He said when incidents like this strike at home, many people feel the pain. The incident is also affecting a member of Tedford’s family. He said a sorority sister with his daughter at Texas Christian University was shot and remains in critical condition at a Las Vegas hospital.

Churchill County High School informed students Monday during a moment of silence. The opening announcement extended thoughts and prayers to our neighbors in Las Vegas and thanked the people who helped the victims.

At Monday night’s powderpuff game, a moment of silence was held prior to kickoff.

Dr. Sandra Sheldon, superintendent of the Churchill County School District, sent out a message on the district’s Facebook site.

“The Churchill County Board of Trustees and I offer heartfelt condolences to those families impacted by (Sunday)’s shooting in Las Vegas. This shooting was senseless and heartbreaking.

“This tragic incident reminds us of the importance of having safety protocols in place for our students and staff. Teachers are trained on various drills including shelter in place and evacuation.

“Be assured that the safety of ChurchillCSD students and staff are our number 1 priority. Again, our sympathies and thoughts go out to the victims, families, and responders to that horrific attack on innocent people.”

Sheldon said counselors are available for students and staff.

Sheriff Ben Trotter said it was unbelievable an incident such as the Las Vegas shooting occurred. He said local law enforcement agencies, though, continually train to handle situations like Sunday night’s incident. Agencies train with each other and also with Naval Air Station Fallon in dealing with active shooters.

“It’s cowardice of someone with that mindset,” Trotter said of the shooter.

Fallon native Rachel Dahl, former director of the Churchill Economic Development Authority and now president and CEO of Mesquite Regional Business, said she was saddened by the shooting.

“My heart goes out,” she said. “It’s so close to home.”

While people may have had similar feeling after 9/11, she said the feelings hurt more because “it happened in our backyard.”

Dahl said she appreciates the response of Gov. Brian Sandoval and other elected officials, both at the local and state levels.

“I am so proud of our representatives whether they’re Democrat or Republican” she said. “They are standing together talking about our state.”


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