There is no telling when the survivors of the horrific shooting in Las Vegas at the Route 91 Harvest Festival will recover. But a visit from the president helps a little with the pain.
Shelby Stalker, a 2015 Pahrump Valley High School graduate and survivor of the shooting, was invited to a news conference in which President Donald Trump was the speaker.
What she didn’t bargain for was personally meeting the president and first lady at a news conference at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police headquarters on Oct. 4.
Stalker, 20, said she was feeling a lot better as of Thursday of last week and although the president’s visit didn’t solve all her problems in coping with the tragedy, she said it did help.
“I am a lot better than I thought I would be,” she said. “I have come to realize that it was real and that it affected my family. Last night was the first night I slept through the night and I slept all the way until 11:30 a.m.”
Stalker said she and all the other survivors and victims’ family members, along with first responders, were invited to attend the conference. The families had been notified of the conference the night before.
“We were the only family there,” she said. “The rest of the people there were all first responders.”
She said she was counting on meeting the president and was surprised that he was so nice.
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“Honestly, being around him I didn’t look at him as being the president,” Stalker said. “He was so compassionate, and it was a side you didn’t see of him. I have more respect for him now.”
Stalker said when the president was introduced to them she was surprised by the actions of first lady Melania Trump.
“She got up out of her seat and dashed right up to us to give us a hug and she said she was thankful that we were alive,” Stalker said. “It was amazing to see that side of her too. We stayed in a room with them for 30 minutes before the press conference and nothing was staged. It was a relaxed atmosphere and we were allowed to talk freely about what had happened without being recorded by the media.
“My brother shared how he helped people after the incident,” Stalker said. “The president and the first lady listened and the president said he was thankful that we were all alive. We also mentioned my mother’s friend, who was shot, and he said he would pray for her.”
The president then asked them to stand with him at the press conference.
“I was honored to stand behind the first lady and next to Mayor Carolyn Goodman of the city of Las Vegas and we were honored to have my brother, Aaron Stalker, mentioned by the president.”
Shelby’s brother, knowing his sister was at the concert and taking fire, told his sister to run and then went to the concert to lend a hand. Aaron Stalker is a veteran of the Iraq War.
Contact sports editor Vern Hee at firstname.lastname@example.org