Events Set In Ventura County To Commemorate The Anniversary Of The Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival Shooting
Ventura County is home to more than 800 survivors of the attack, which caused 61 deaths.
A Ventura County woman is the ultimate example of a survivor.
Molly Maurer of Oak Park survived not one, but two mass shootings — The Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival attack, and then, as fate would have it, she was at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks the night of that rampage.
Maurer admits at the time, she had no idea that a man in a nearby hotel room was firing what would turn out to be around a thousand shots at the concertgoers.
She, her boyfriend, and his sister were in the middle of the crowd when the shooting started. They first thought it was the sound of pyrotechnics from the show, but the crowd started to run. Maurer says it was chaotic as shots made the crowd of more than 20,000 people surge in different directions.
"Getting out of the venue without being knocked down was at the forefront of our brain," said Maurer. "There wasn't one direction of shooting. It was all over. We didn't know if it was inside, or if it was outside."
The three made it out safely. But, many others didn't.
The trauma of that night was soon blunted by Mauer’s discovery she was pregnant. She gave birth to a little girl. A little over a year later, she went out with a girlfriend to go dancing. They went to Borderline, in Thousand Oaks.
They were sitting at a table when shots started to ring out. "I was actually with my friend who was at Route 91." said Maurer. "We both locked eyes, and said hey, it's time to go." The two quickly ducked out of a side door to safety. But, 12 people died in that attack.
Maurer has tried to turn her traumatic experiences into something good. She is a “Peer Lead” with the non-profit group “Give-An-Hour” California. The non-profit offers counseling and support services for trauma victims.
On Friday, “Give-An-Hour” is teaming up with groups like the Ventura County District Attorney’s office to host “SoCal Route 91 Heals.” It’s a pair of remembrance events in Ventura County on the anniversary of the Las Vegas attack.
There will be a viewing event to watch a live, sunrise ceremony set to take place in Las Vegas.
Michael Morisette is Outreach Coordinator for “Give-An-Hour” California, and helped organize the events. He says the morning event is one for pre-registered attendees.
There’s a second afternoon event that’s open to everyone. The 2 p.m. gathering at the Conejo Creek Park North Lakeside Pavilion will feature a series of activities including the reading of the names of victims of the attack, and line dancing to pay tribute to those impacted.
“Give-An-Hour” had been working with Borderline Bar and Grill Attack survivors, but then last year the non-profit received a grant to expand support for Route 91 survivors.
The mental health professionals involved in the efforts are volunteers. As for Morisette, he has his own special reason for being involved. His daughter, Kristina Morisette, was one of the 12 people who died in the Borderline attack. He says his work now is a chance to thank those who helped and supported him.
"Somebody has a lived experience, and then can change their priorities, or purpose," said Morisette. "I realized that would probably help me, because of the desire to give back, after having received."
Maurer, who survived both the Las Vegas and Thousand Oaks attacks, admits it’s been tough. But she says having her daughter, and also being able to use her experiences to help others gives her a positive outlook.