Hundreds of people came together on Saturday to pay their respects to Jack Beaton, who was killed in the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Oct. 1.
People packed St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church for a public Mass in honor of Beaton, one of nearly 60 people killed in a shooting during Route 91 Harvest Festival. Beaton had been attending the event with his wife, Laurie, for their wedding anniversary.
When the shooting started, Beaton was hit after he pulled his wife to the ground and hugged her in an effort to protect her. Besides his wife, he left behind two children, Jake and Delaney.
The Mass included Bible readings, music and words about Beaton and his family, including some from Monsignor Perry Kavookjian.
“It’s very difficult to say goodbye to a man who was a wonderful son and brother, a loving husband and father,” he said. “What should have been a wonderful evening of music and fellowship turned into a nightmare for everyone. (Jack) laid down his life for his best friend, Laurie, and he would have laid down his life for any of those people who lost their lives that evening. That is a kind of heroic love that we don’t see too often in our world.”
While Kavookjian said that the shooting is a tragedy and that it’s understandable for people to be sad and angry, he hopes people’s faith can bring some sense of peace.
“What brings us here this morning is not to relive that tragedy but to move ourselves forward, remembering Jack’s goodness in so many ways and to express our faith that he is in a good and safe place with our loving savior, Christ Jesus,” he said.
Kavookjian also hoped that people would take heart in the fact that there were many people during the attack that were helping others, usually strangers.
“Yes, we might focus on the evil that was done by one person who took so many lives that evening, but in the end, what really matters are the many good people who were willing to sacrifice themselves in the face of danger,” he said. “Like Jack, they are the true heroes of this story.”
During the Mass, Kavookjian asked God to lend faith and strength to Beaton’s wife and children during this difficult time.
“We offer our support and love to all of Jack’s family during this time,” he said. “They will need our prayers and our love for some time to come.”
Jeff Sallee, a friend of Beaton’s, was the only member of the audience to speak. No family spoke during the Mass.
Sallee read aloud an article written by his mother, Karen Sallee, titled “The Last Tailgate: RIP Jack Beaton.” Sallee wrote that she got to know Beaton because he lived next door to her son Jeff and his family.
She said she got to know him best one weekend when her son was going out of town with his family and asked Beaton to watch over the family dog. Sallee wrote that while the family was gone, the family dog, Kacey, had died.
“I went to sit with Kacey until someone could get there. I couldn’t stand the thought of our sweet Kacey lying there alone,” Jeff Sallee read at the Mass. “Just a dog, one might say; just a body at that point, but the dog was special. Jack understood that.”
Sallee went on to read that Beaton held Sallee’s mother as she cried over the dog’s body.
“Jack sat with me on the concrete as I wept over Kacey’s body and told stories of her mischievous puppyhood. He laughed with me and then he cried with me,” Sallee read. “He could be tough talking, but inside he was soft. Real men do cry, and Jack was a real man.”
Karen Sallee wrote that while she didn’t know Beaton that well before his untimely death, she was struck by how giving he was and how much he enjoyed spending time with people.
“My encounters with Jack might have been minimal, but they were the real deal,” Jeff Sallee read. “I saw how he loved my son and his family. I benefited firsthand from his compassion. Jack was a hero not just to Laurie, but to everyone he knew. We look up to him in memory, we respect him as the finest sort of human being, and we miss him. The hellish evil that rained down from the 32nd floor will never weaken Jack’s light, will never diminish the love we hold in our hearts for the gravelly voiced, apple-cheeked hero from Bakersfield, California.”