Hundreds turn out for vigil on Huntington Beach Pier for victims of Las Vegas massacre


One by one, the mourners called out the names.

“Andrea Castilla,” the first one said. She was a makeup artist from Huntington Beach celebrating her 28th birthday when she was shot and killed in Las Vegas on Oct. 1.

“Erick Silva,” said another voice. He was a 22-year-old security guard who died saving lives.

Susan Smith, an elementary school office manager from Simi Valley, was among those named.


As the sun set over the ocean, a throng of people huddled along the Huntington Beach Pier to remember those who lost their lives too soon. They clutched flame-less candles and held aloft cellphone flashlights. Strangers embraced one another. Beats from a drum circle echoed. Some wept as 58 names were read.

They were among thousands of people who gathered at candlelight vigils across the state — including events in Placentia, La Verne, Bakersfield and Simi Valley — over the weekend to commemorate victims of the Las Vegas massacre.

Exactly a week ago, a gunman perched on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel sprayed a crowd of 22,000 country music fans with gunfire at the Route 91 Harvest festival.

The shooter— Stephen Paddock— killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more before turning a gun on himself, according to police.

More than half of those killed, 33 people, were from California.

They were teachers, mothers and big sisters, drawn together by their love of country music. Some, like Castilla, traveled to Vegas to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.

At the pier in her hometown, Castilla’s loved ones wore postcards around their necks bearing her photograph and the phrase #PrayForVegas. They remembered her as a sympathetic listener who was always smiling. She was “light on a gloomy, cloudy day,” one friend said, standing next to a memorial with sunflowers, candles and a photograph.

That weekend, her boyfriend of seven months, Derek Miller, was planning to propose.

Those grieving could pick up tissues and candy from a table nearby, sign their names or donate to victims’ families.

“I feel the love,” said Jacque Nafison, 58, of the Huntington Beach vigil. Castilla was her best friend’s niece. “The warmth and serenity and caring people have for each other.”

Nafison said Castilla didn’t die in vain.

“The world will change,” she said. “Hopefully it changes.”

At a candlelight vigil Sunday in Placentia, a large crowd gathered in the field of Sierra Vista Elementary School to honor Teresa Nicol Kimura, who also died in the Las Vegas attack.

Kimura, who went by Nicol, graduated from El Dorado High School and Cal State Fullerton and worked for the state government. She was known for her energy and infectious smile.

Her friend Chad Elliott said the pair had attended 15 concerts this year alone, but the Route 91 festival was her favorite weekend of the year.

In Huntington Beach, many of those who were present during the shooting were scattered in the crowd, orange and purple ribbons pinned to their shirts. Several spoke of the guilt they felt for making it out alive while another thanked a veteran for saving her life.

Among those who survived the attack was Mignon Underwood, 51, who said she came to the vigil to “process it all.”

“It’s been hard,” she said of the last week. “I’m trying to get through the day without thinking about it. I’m trying not to fall apart.”

During the vigil, survivors held hands and walked up and down the pier, while attendees followed behind.

Bethany Webb, 56, carried a sign saying, “Now is the time to talk about sensible gun laws.”

Six years ago, she lost her sister when a gunman opened fire inside a Seal Beach hair salon.

“Fifty-eight families can’t breathe right now,” Webb said. “Not until enough people have walked in our shoes.”


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10:45 p.m.: This article was updated with information from the vigil in Placentia.

9:20 p.m.: This article was updated with additional information from the vigil.

This article was originally published at 7:20 p.m.