FAIRBANKS — A Fairbanks real estate agent was one of the hundreds of people injured when a lone gunman fired upon a crowd of concert-goers Sunday night in Las Vegas, killing 59.
Rob McIntosh, an agent with Century 21 Gold Rush, was shot three times, according to an email sent Monday morning to members of the Greater Fairbanks Board of Realtors. McIntosh was rushed to surgery and is recovering, according to the email.
“Please join us in giving your thoughts and prayers to the McIntosh and Century 21 family,” the email states. “We will do our best to keep you posted when more information becomes available.”
Two Anchorage residents, commercial fisherman Adrian Murfitt, 35, and Dorene Anderson, age unknown, were among those killed, according to The Associated Press.
Bravery amid the chaos
McIntosh is a former North Pole High School girls basketball coach who retired in 2011. His best friend, Mike Cronk, a retired physical education teacher with the Alaska Gateway School District, told an ABC News reporter in Las Vegas that he and McIntosh were at the outdoor concert together when they heard popping noises. McIntosh was shot three times in the chest, and Cronk said he and others worked to keep the wounds compressed until they could find medical help.
“He (McIntosh) actually put his finger in the hole, so we (said) don’t move your finger, keep compression on, and we probably stayed like that for at least 10-15 minutes,” Cronk told the reporter during a live interview at the scene.
Cronk and several others who were helping him decided to lift McIntosh over a fence so they could get to a safer place under the stage. They couldn’t find an ambulance, so they loaded Cronk and three other injured men into the back of someone’s truck and headed out to find help. They eventually found an ambulance, but one of the injured men died before they could get him help.
North Pole athletics director Walt Armstrong said the school was informed that McIntosh successfully made it through surgery Monday morning.
“All I know is what was posted online by Mike Cronk,” Armstrong said in a telephone interview. “He made it through surgery this morning and he’s doing fine. He’s doing OK.”
Armstrong also said McIntosh was in touch with his daughter, Sydney Copley, who relayed the message to the school that the former Patriots coach is all right.
“He texted his daughter this morning, and she said he’s doing OK.”
Cronk, an avid hunter, said it was “very obvious” the shooter was using a fully automatic rifle.
When reached for comment, Sydney Copley said the family prefers to respect McIntosh’s privacy and will not be issuing a statement to news agencies at this time.
Fairbanksans tell their stories
Moses Villalobos, who retired as the chief of Fairbanks International Airport Police and Fire Department in May 2016, was at the concert with his girlfriend and fellow Fairbanksan Tami Sheehan. Villalobos and Sheehan spoke to the News-Miner about the shooting as they awaited a flight home to Fairbanks.
“I had just finished my cancer treatment on the Friday before, so this was kind of a celebration. We went to the concert and did a little skydiving and visited with family,” Sheehan said, noting there were about 25 people in her group but that only she and Villalobos were from Fairbanks.
Sheehan said the crowd mistook the sound of gunfire for fireworks, but people began ducking and getting down on the ground anyway. Villalobos realized what was really going on and told everyone to get up and run, but “My feet were kind of locked in and we were trying to get people up, and me up, and nobody would move,” Sheehan said.
They were finally able to break free, and the group, which became separated in their dash to safety, eventually met up at their suite in the Tropicana Hotel, directly across from the concert venue. They ended up with about 40 people in their suite who were not part of their group because Villalobos’ brother, a firefighter from Los Angeles County, brought them to the room after finding them “just wandering the halls,” Sheehan said.
Five people in Sheehan and Villalobos’ group were shot. Three were still in the hospital at about 1:30 p.m. Monday, one of them in the intensive care unit. Two of the injured were young women who were sitting on their boyfriends’ shoulders when the shooting started, Sheehan said. One of the women was shot through the shoulder and another one in the hip and the arm.
Villalobos said he heard the “very distinctive” sound of a machine gun and could see muzzle flashes out of a window at the nearby Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
“It was continual. He must have fired at least 1,000 rounds. He was spraying the crowd. In my opinion it would be hard to do accurate fire with a full auto weapon at that distance, but he was shooting down at people,” Villalobos said. “For the folks that laid down, they didn’t really stand much of a chance because they were just laying on the ground and he could see straight down at them.”
Villalobos said he didn’t enjoy being unarmed and vulnerable as an unseen gunman mowed people down.
“It was definitely not a pleasurable experience being on the muzzle end of an active shooter event. Because, being in law enforcement, I’ve always been on the end that stops the shooter. I had a different perspective,” he said.
Villalobos praised the speedy response of law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical services.
“They came in quick, fast and in force, and obviously saved a lot of lives,” Villalobos said.
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker issued a statement Monday morning saying his niece was at the concert and had texted family from a hotel basement where she and others were hiding. Walker ordered all Alaska state flags to be lowered to half-staff in honor the shooting victims. The White House has issued a similar order that all U.S. flags be lowered to half-staff.
News-Miner sports reporter Brad Joyal contributed to this report. Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/FDNMcrime.