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Special-ed teacher’s death in Las Vegas shooting sees outpouring of grief

A woman lights candles at a vigil on the Las Vegas strip following a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, US, Oct 2, 2017. Source: Reuters

Twitter was filled with condolence messages for Sandy Casey, the 35-year-old special education teacher from Manhattan Beach, California, who was among the first few dead victims identified in Sunday evening’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.

KTIC radio (via ABC News Radio) quoted Michael Matthews, superintendent of Schools at the Manhattan Beach Unified School District, as saying several other members of the school community were at the concert, including a principal and school psychologists.

However, Casey was the only one in the group who did not make it back safely.

Matthews said in a letter to families:

“This is unbelievably sad and tragic.”

“We wanted to let you know so that you can be prepared to support your children and to help them process this information. As you can imagine, this loss is impacting many of our staff members deeply, and while we collectively grieve, we will be working to provide support to everyone affected.”

Matthews said students, teachers and parents affected by her death could receive support from counsellors.

The series of tweets in memory of the beloved teacher can be seen in the following:

According to the Daily Beast, Casey’s partner, Christopher Willemse, posted a short note about her death.

“The love and support that she and I have received during these trying times just show how important this wonderful woman truly was. She lived life to the fullest and made me the happiest man in the world,” he said.

“I’m so grateful for the kind words and gestures, it means the world to me, especially for her.”

Derek Michael Billings, who sends his children to another nearby elementary school, said:

“I can’t even begin to comprehend this as it hits home. This has to stop.”

The Sunday night shooting spree from a 32nd-floor window of the Mandalay Bay hotel, Vegas Strip, killed at least 59 people before the gunman turned a weapon on himself. More than 500 were injured, some trampled, in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, left no immediate hint of his motive for the arsenal of high-powered weaponry he amassed, including 34 guns, or the carnage he inflicted on a crowd of 22,000 attending an outdoor country music festival.

Paddock was not known to have served in the military, or to have suffered from a history of mental illness or to have registered any inkling of social disaffection, political discontent or radical views on social media.

Police said they believed Paddock acted alone but were at a loss to explain what might have precipitated it.

“We have no idea what his belief system was,” Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters. “I can’t get into the mind of a psychopath.”

Additional reporting by Reuters

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