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Popular School Employee In Ventura County Among Victims Of The Las Vegas Shooting Rampage

(Vista Elementary PTA Facebook)
Susan Smith of Simi Valley was one of the victims of Sunday night's Las Vegas shooting rampage

It’s a scene which is happening all over the country. Shocked people are trying to comfort each other, as they learn that a family member, a friend, or a college is among the hundreds of victims of the Las Vegas rampage.

The news was as bad as it gets at Vista Elementary School, in Simi Valley. The school’s longtime office manager, Susan Smith, was among those who died as a result of the shooting.

Jake Finch, with the Simi Valley Unified School District, says Smith’s 16 year career spans a number of schools in the district, which means people at a number of campuses are trying to make sense out of the senseless.

The 53 year old woman was married, with two adult children. Friends say she was a huge country music fan`, and was excited about going to the music festival in Las Vegas.

Finch says some of Smith’s friends on the trip alerted the district early Monday. They knew it wouldn’t be easy to let staff members, and the school’s more than 600 K through sixth grade students know that the popular figure on campus was gone. The school called in staff before the start of classes on Monday, to share the bad news. Counselors were brought to campus for staff members, and students. And, the district lined up enough substitute teachers to fill in for any of the teachers who felt overwhelmed.

Parents say it’s hard to comprehend that Smith is gone. Julie Hopper is a Vista Elementary School parent, who says Smith was there for the kids, and parents. A makeshift memorial started to take shape outside the Vista Elementary School office during the day.

Even some members of the community who don’t have kids at the school, like Stacy Adrian, showed up with flowers to pay their respects. Adrian says people need to support each other in the city.

Plans for a memorial service haven't been announced yet.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.