San Bernardino County coroners helping out in aftermath of Las Vegas mass shooti…


A team of San Bernardino County coroners arrived in Las Vegas Monday, Oct. 2, to help gather information, collect DNA – and possibly perform the hardest task of all, notifying family members their loved ones were killed when a sniper unleashed the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history on a country music festival.

Authorities say at least 59 people were killed and at least 527 were injured, with Southern Californians among them.

The team of three investigators and one supervisor arrived in the late afternoon, after a gunman identified as 64-year-old retiree Stephen Craig Paddock of Mesquite, Nev., opened fire Sunday night on the nearby Route 91 Harvest Festival from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino hotel.

Three are members of a federal Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team. All four are trained to notify people when their family members have died, which could be one of their tasks now, said Robert “Rocky” Shaw, lead supervisoring deputy coroner investigator for San Bernardino County.

“Unfortunately, they do it every day in their regular job,” he said. “But they’re also skilled in working in a mass-fatality setting.”

With approval from San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner John McMahon and Coroner Division Captain Kevin Lacy, the San Bernardino County coroner team is expected to be there for five days to help at a family assistance center set up at the Las Vegas Convention Center Exhibit Hall S-2.

They’ll interview people who stop in to find relatives – gathering information and possibly taking DNA samples to help with identification. The coroners would also let them know if their family members died in the attack.

San Bernardino County, the closest large county to Las Vegas, is the only California county sending coroners to help, said Dennis Smithson, state coroners mutual aid coordinator for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

He contacted the Clark County coroner at 4 a.m. Monday to offer help from throughout the state. So far, no other help has been needed.

“San Bernardino did offer some people,” Smithson said. “And they have a large, capable coroner’s office in San Bernardino, so they’re a good fit.”



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