In the wake of a violent attack, hundreds gathered to dedicate a healing garden for the victims. Photo by Cierra Pedro

Where’s Your Head At?

Last week was an emotional one. On October 1, 58 innocent lives were taken in one of the most senseless, heinous acts committed on U.S. soil. But even a tragedy of that magnitude couldn’t dim Las Vegas’ vibrant sense of community. Individuals rallied to support and lift one another, with fundraisers, charity drives, vigils and memorials. In one display of Vegas valiance, community members quickly constructed a park to serve as a “healing garden” and honor those who were taken.

Mayor Carolyn Goodman commended the community during a dedication ceremony Friday night. “This has become a center of humanity that’s setting a standard around the world,” she said. “If there is hatred it will not be tolerated in this community.”

As hundreds gathered for the ceremony, some painting tiles that will later be added to the park, others drawing hearts on a mural, and Vegas Seven decided to check-in on those in attendance. We asked a simple, open-ended question—“Where’s your head at?”—and let their hearts and minds speak.

Photo by Cierra Pedro

“I don’t know how to even wrap my head around it. I try to be even more polite and kinder—if that’s possible; I’m a pretty nice guy already. But I go out of my way to be nice. That’s all I can do: show other humans that there are other good humans.” —retired firefighter Mark Ambe, 41, who attended the ceremony with his 6-year-old daughter Lily and their dog, Nina, also 6

Photo by Cierra Pedro

“It was weird all week. Like, why am I going to work? Feels like I should have stopped. But it’s better today than it was yesterday.” —Jessica Mohler, 24, who attended with her husband, Derek

Photo by Cierra Pedro

“It’s emotional. I don’t like how everyone’s trying to politicize it. Instead of everyone saying, ‘Gun control! Gun control!” we should be focusing on this senseless tragedy. We just need to come together.” —Boy Scouts scoutmaster Lance Harris, 37, who led a troop of volunteers during the event

Photo by Cierra Pedro

“I think we’re buoyed every day a little more by our amazing city … It was a little stressful even thinking: We’re gonna go to this thing and there’s going to be thousands of people outside … We’re trying to just keep plugging forward and help whenever we can and wherever we can and go to everything, even though we’re trying desperately to stay inside and lock the doors; that’s the first instinct. We live in this amazing neighborhood. We’ve never had that fear. We get to leave and be okay and know that these people have our backs. Now everyone gets to see that.” —ShaRhonda Ramos, 47, who attended the ceremony with her 11-year-old son Deven

David Rodriguez and Collin Haire. Photo by Cierra Pedro.

“It’s the only thing I’ve been thinking about. I just got promoted to assistant manager at my job and I haven’t really been able to focus on that much. I’m glued to the news, I’m glued to local news, I’m glued to the phone—Twitter, social media—my friends who were there, my friends of friends who knew people who got shot … You see these things happen everywhere and you never expect it to happen in your hometown. When it does—you see the photos, you see Mandalay Bay in the background—you’re like, my god, it’s true. It’s real. Ever since then, it’s just felt a little numb.” —Collin Haire, 22, who works at Charlie’s Las Vegas

“As someone who comes from Florida—I was maybe 40 minutes away from the last mass shooting—to living in Vegas and being here for a second mass shooting, it’s unbelievable the tragedies we’re having to overcome as a nation. I think it’s just time we really, really fucking make a change about it.” —David Rodriguez, 27, who also works at Charlie’s Las Vegas. The two took a break from their booth at First Friday to pay their respects.

Left to right: Caprice Roberson, Jeanette Ware and William Price. Photo by Cierra Pedro.

“I think that Las Vegas is such a big hospitality town that it’s really important to recognize how important it is that we’re good to each other and that we take care of each other, and that we take care of ourselves. This community is a very strong community. Something like this, it’s very sad and heavy, but it’s something that we can all band together, come together and lift one another from. I don’t doubt that Las Vegas can do that.” —William Price, 41

“For me it’s hard. I’m from the Midwest and there’s a lot more community and family where I’m from and so when I moved here, I found it really hard to get used to living in Vegas. It’s really sad that it took something like this to bring us all together, but it really has. It’s crazy they did this in, what, four days? I just think it’s really amazing.” —Jeannette Ware, 26

“I don’t think I’m feeling as positive as them … I’m glad people responded well to the situation, but I’m just sad it ever happened in the first place. That’s still where I’m at.” —Caprice Roberson, 31

Vegas Seven