A Minnesota native lay on an operating table in Las Vegas on Monday afternoon, one of hundreds wounded in a mass shooting during a country music festival.
Philip Aurich suffered a collapsed lung and a ruptured diaphragm, and his spleen and part of his colon were removed after he was hit several times by gunfire, according to several Facebook posts. He is in critical condition and will undergo more surgery, the posts said.
Aurich, 36, lives in Las Vegas and is the father of two daughters. He is a 1999 graduate of Concordia Academy in Roseville, where his father is a teacher and coach. He was at the Jason Aldean concert with his girlfriend, who was not injured.
A post from Aurich’s family asked people to please “keep Phil, his children Reagan and Ryder, and his parents Mike and Mindy in their prayers.”
“The terrible attack in Las Vegas has shocked and horrified the conscience of every American,” Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement Monday. “I urge all Minnesotans and all Americans to call upon our own best natures, put aside our differences and work for an end to this insane violence. I also ask for special prayers for the recovery of Minnesotan [Philip] Aurich, who was critically wounded in the attack.”
Another Minnesota mother also awaited news of whether her son is alive or dead.
Mary Berger told KSTP-TV that her son, Steve Berger, was at the concert with friends and was hit by gunfire. The friends tried to save him but they became separated in the chaos.
Steve Berger lives in the Twin Cities and works at EFS Advisors, a financial firm in Minnetonka.
Names of those killed and wounded emerged slowly Monday, and other families in Minnesota awaited news of loved ones.
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell was in Las Vegas for a reunion of current and former law enforcement officers. He was staying at the Flamingo, less than a mile from the scene, when a friend called to tell him what had happened.
Axtell started checking on members of his group, including his son. None of them was injured Sunday, he said.
On Monday, Axtell waited in line for several hours to donate blood.
He applauded local law enforcement. “The first responders were amazing,” Axtell said. “Very impressed with the response down here. … They are doing a very nice job.”
Weekend trip turns unreal
A weekend trip to take in the festival turned into a harrowing experience for Jon Hoese, who played fullback for the University of Minnesota Gophers from 2007 to 2010. He was with friends when the shooting broke out.
“Honestly, it doesn’t even feel real yet,” said Hoese, who lives in Golden Valley. “It’s kind of really setting in how extreme this was.”
Hoese said that a man 10 to 15 feet in front of him was shot and that a woman not far behind him was hit in the arm. “At first, we kind of heard this noise, and we assumed because it was toward the end of [Aldean’s concert] that it was fireworks,” Hoese said. “Then people were saying it was a shooter.”
Hoese and his group of about 10 friends ran toward a temporary building and eventually found refuge in another hotel. Authorities had people wait at that hotel for a couple of hours, Hoese said, before they could leave the area. “A guy came in there who got shot in the arm,” Hoese said. “He was saying he was fine, but he needed to get that [wound] addressed.”
Hoese, who works as a loan officer in Cologne, had a Monday afternoon return flight. “We’re ready to get back,” he said.
Minneapolis woman escapes
After realizing someone was shooting at concertgoers, Shelby Henderson, 23, of Minneapolis, thought: “This can’t be happening.” The shots kept coming, she said by phone Monday. “It was sheer panic.”
Henderson bolted from the scene as people screamed and sought cover. She tripped over several people as she made her way to the street and into a nearby condo where a couple told her to “come in here.” She said she saw bodies on the pavement and blood on walls as she dashed into the condo and out of harm’s way.
“They just died there. It was like the apocalypse,” she said.
Foursome runs 4 miles
Taylor Dumbrovski thought the “pop, pop, pop” she heard at the Aldean show was fireworks. She soon realized the sound was a volley of gunshots that sent her and thousands of others running for their lives.
Dumbrovski, of Cold Spring, Minn., was with her fiancé, brother and sister-in-law when shots rang out. She saw people dropping, and the four starting running.
“We jumped over two concrete barriers,” she said. “We pushed over an 8-foot chain-link fence and we kept running for 4 miles — at least that is what our step counters told us.”
Dumbrovski said she saw blood on the sidewalk. “You see coverage of mass shootings on TV and it’s horrible, but you never expect to be put in the coverage,” she said by phone Monday. “It’s unbelievable.”
Dumbrovski said she is still trying to process what happened, but “you just have to keep moving. It’s crazy, but we have jobs and families to get back to.”
Minneapolis vigil set for Wednesday
A candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting has been scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Plymouth Congregational Church, 1900 Nicollet Av. S., Minneapolis.
Staff writers Karen Zamora, Pat Pheifer and Randy Johnson contributed to this report.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768