By Raiza Giorgi
Santa Ynez Valley resident Anne Marlett was at a loss for words when she found out that her friends Cesar Ranuschio and his fiance Jessica Daugherty were at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas. Then she learned that Ranuschio has been hit in the shoulder by one of the hundreds of bullets that were raining down upon the concert goers.
“I first met them both about a year and a half ago while I was working for Cesar’s uncle at Eleven Wine Lounge in Santa Ynez, and I’ve met very few people with hearts as big as theirs,” Marlett said.
Marlett was enjoying her weekend at Disneyland and knew the couple from Santa Clarita wanted to attend the three-day country music festival but didn’t know they had gotten tickets. When Marlett got home early on Monday morning it came as a shock when she read that Ranuschio had been shot.
“I don’t know if it was because I was still so tired from this weekend but I couldn’t stop the flow of tears over what has happened. I don’t understand,” Marlett said.
At least 59 people have been killed and 525 others have been injured after a gunman opened fire Sunday night, unleashing a hail of bullets on the Las Vegas strip from his room high above the concert from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
The suspect, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nev., was found dead when SWAT burst into his hotel room where he was firing.
Ranuschio was shot in the shoulder and during his surgery it was discovered that the bullet moved and lodged in his heart. A second surgery was performed Monday evening and according to Marlett he is now in the intensive care unit recovering.
“Jessica escaped without injury but, this is a traumatic event that will forever change her life, I just want to do what I can to help her and Cesar get on with their lives and get married,” Marlett said.
Marlett has established a GoFundMe account for the couple to be used for medical bills, physical therapy, trauma therapy and travel expenses.
There are reports that other Santa Ynez Valley residents were either at the concert or knew a friend that attended. Valley resident Candice Villard has organized a candlelight vigil for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5 at Solvang Park. Bethania Lutheran Church Pastor Chris Brown will be offering words of comfort. Those that attend are asked to bring a candle.
Winemaker Michael Cobb of Sort This Out Cellars in Solvang splits his time between the valley and Las Vegas and was in the city when the shooting happened. He said he was safe and was saddened by the events.
April Trieger of Buellton said that friends of her family who were at the concert have still not been heard from since the shooting happened.
Denise Cohen, 57, of Santa Barbara and Derrick Bo Taylor, of Oxnard have not been in contact with family or friends. They were staying at the Paris Hotel and have not checked out and they did not board their flight back this morning.
**Update** The families of the missing couple confirmed early this morning that both were killed in the shooting.
The Santa Barbara County Psychological Association has offered condolences to those killed in Sunday night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.
“We want to insure people that many of the feelings they are experiencing – shock, anger, fear – are normal responses to a trauma,” said Dr. Laura Ciel, president of the association that represents more than 190 licensed clinical psychologists, graduate students in psychology, and post-doctoral trainees.In the past, some members of the association have offered low-cost or no-cost counseling to community members who have been affected by traumatic events.
Psychologists counsel victims to seek safety, process with friends and loved ones the feelings they are experiencing, and to access help if they are not finding that their symptoms decline over time. Taking proactive, empowering action – such as donating blood or supporting survivors by donating to vetted organizations – can be helpful. Specific guidelines exist for explaining and reassuring children during such times.