APU students grieve and process the attack in Las Vegas that killed 59 and injured more than 500

“I had friends who were there, and people from church who were there,” Las Vegas native and senior communication major Raven Macaraeg said. “As of right now, I at least know 25 people who were injured.”

A week after Stephen Paddock wreaked havoc on Route 91 concert goers in Las Vegas injuring over 500 and killing more than 50, Macaraeg processes how the shooting has directly affected her loved ones.

“I have childhood memories at the Mandalay Bay, and now I feel like they’re tainted because of the situation,” Macaraeg said. “There’s not a time I’ve logged onto Facebook and haven’t seen someone on my timeline who I know who hasn’t been affected.”

Macaraeg said the trauma has been especially difficult because one of her friends, a former APU student, was a survivor of the attack on Paris in in 2015. She never expected something like this to “hit so close to home, literally.”

“As someone who is still dealing with it, it’s encouraging to hear words of affirmation that it is going to be fine, rather than just being told that it sucks,” she continued. “The whole entire tone of our campus has gone down.”

Despite how dark the nation feels, Macaraeg encourages people to find one positive thing that has come out of the situation.

“Over 500 people have been injured, but it could’ve been so much worse, out of the 22,000 people that were there,” Macaraeg said. “It’s hard. Our nation has come together so much. It’s made it a little more bearable.”

On the day of the attack, senior business management major Bailey Fink spent her last day checked into the Mandalay Bay hotel. Her weekend celebrating two of her friends’ birthdays was coming to a close.

“Some leaked reports say that he checked in on Thursday and we arrived on Friday so he was walking around the hotel and casino while we were there,” Fink said. “Fortunately, both groups [of friends] decided to leave Sunday afternoon to return to Azusa, so no one in my immediate friend group was in Vegas when the shooting happened.”

Based on initial reports when the shooting occurred, Fink was confused and shocked. She was unsure whether it was a group of people shooting in the casinos or whether it was a full-fledged terrorist attack.

“Slowly, as more truth on the events came out, the worse it got,” Fink explained. “It turns out a decent amount of APU students were in Vegas that weekend. I had friends call or message asking if I was still in Vegas and if I was safe––this was so heartwarming at first, but throughout the week I have felt more and more guilty that I got out of the city when I did and yet people I know from back home or from school stuck around for an extra night and were injured or shot.”

Fink shared that the guilt still lingers and she questions why God chose to keep her safe. Still dealing with the shock of last week, she admitted she’s missed a few work shifts and classes to deal with the grief.

Megan Krupa, a junior physics and systems engineering major, revealed a friend who she grew up four houses down from was among the 59 dead. They played JV sports together freshman and sophomore year of high school.

“She was such a sweetheart, really one of the good ones that was around,” Krupa said of victim Jordyn Rivera. “When I looked at her Facebook page I saw about seven posts that were solely dedicated to her memory, about how sweet she was and what a tragedy it was to have lost such a beautiful soul. It was really strange at first, the world kinda didn’t feel real because these were normally things that don’t hit close to home.”

Krupa’s roommates sat around around her when she revealed to them her friend was a victim. She said Rivera and her mother attended the Route 91 tour every year as a mother-daughter tradition, and this year they went in celebration of Rivera’s 21st birthday.

“I told them that I think one of my friends died last night in those shootings. I didn’t even grasp it fully. I’m not sure I will anytime soon that she is gone,” Krupa said.

Rivera’s photograph is now pictured among the list of confirmed victims. She had a younger brother and was loved by many. Saturday night, Krupa said there was a candlelight vigil on the softball field in remembrance of Rivera.

“I hope that APU can show how much beauty is coming from this situation, not of using this as a political platform to show that hate is so present in this world or that we should increase laws or anything like that,” Krupa said. “We need to focus on the love that is being given to those who have lost and of the fact that God has a plan out of all of this and we do not get to decide what that beauty is, because we are not perfect and we cannot even imagine the amazing plans that God has from this.”

Krupa hopes her testimony is helpful in bringing hope to campus, because she is “not the only one who has lost someone or knows someone who is suffering greatly.”