LAS VEGAS — Stephanie Melanson had attended the Route 91 Harvest music festival every year since its inception, and this time she was determined to bring her mom along.
The tickets were a Mother’s Day present, but #Rosemarie Melanson kept trying to give them away — to her kids’ friends, their boyfriends. Finally Stephanie, 26, put her foot down. Couldn’t her generous mother just keep something nice for herself?
By the third night of the festival, Rosemarie was glad she had listened. With Stephanie, her younger daughter Paige and two of their friends, she pressed close to the stage, dancing until her back and feet were sore.
“This is so fun!!!” the 54-year-old texted her husband. She snatched off Stephanie’s baseball cap and placed it backward on her own head. Her daughter laughed: “You trying to look cool?” They leaned in to snap a selfie. In the photo, taken at 10 p.m. on Oct. 1, mother and daughter are cheek to cheek with matching toothy grins.
Minutes later, the shooting began. Rosemarie collapsed, facedown.
A bullet, shot from across the street and 32 floors up, had hit her in the chest. It fractured inside her body, sending shrapnel into her lungs, stomach, liver and spleen. She began to bleed out, causing her kidneys to falter.
It would be 11 hours before Stephanie saw her mother again, in the intensive care unit at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. Rosemarie was alive — largely thanks to a retired firefighter who remained in the line of fire to tend to her wound — but still grievously hurt. A week later, she breathes through a ventilator and is so heavily sedated that she can do no more than flutter her eyelids as her family gathers around her hospital bed.