Jack and Laurie Beaton from Bakersfield, California, were celebrating their 23rd wedding anniversary when bullets rained down at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on Sunday.
At 7:46 pm on Sunday night, Jack, 54, shared a Facebook photo of his wife and their friends smiling and drinking beers while enjoying the last day of the country music festivities.
Then, less than two hours later, terror ensued.
The pair initially mistook the gunfire for fireworks until a bullet brushed by Laurie’s shoulder.
“I’ve never experienced gunshots but when I felt air go right past my arm I told my husband, ‘I don’t think that’s fireworks,’” she told the Associated Press.
As they threw themselves to the ground, Jack lay his body on top of Laurie’s to shield her from the bullets. “He told me, ‘Get down, get down, get down,’ ” she said.
“He told me, ‘I love you, Laurie’ and his arms were around me and his body just went heavy on me.” It would be his last words to his love of almost three decades as Laurie quickly realized that her husband was shot.
“I screamed his name and he wasn’t answering me, there was a lot of blood,” she said, remembering how a nurse and an EMT instructed to put Jack on his side as she heard her husband struggling to breathe.
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Laurie refused to leave her husband’s side but after the second round of gunshots rang out, friends and rescue workers urged her to run to safety.
When the lights came on, Laurie returned to where her husband was she was not concerned at first when he was not still there.
“He had been moved so we were optimistic that he’d received help,” she said of friends telling her how Jack had been removed from the grounds.
With this belief, Jack’s family called for prayers for the 54-year-old construction worker.
“If every1 could please pray for my dad and every1 else at the rout 91 he jumped in front of my mom and got shot. I love you dad #atruehero,” the couple’s son, Jake, tweeted on Sunday.
Following multiple calls to various Las Vegas hospitals, Laurie filed a missing persons report early Monday. The coroner’s office told her that afternoon that her husband was among the 58 casualties.
“Lost my best friend. I love you so much more then you could ever imagine. Please watch over our family. You will forever be remembered as our hero! #atruehero,” son Jake wrote shortly afterwards on Facebook with photos of his late father.
Jack and Laurie, who met through friends during Laurie’s senior year of high school, dated for four years before they got married in 1994, the same year Laurie graduated from the University of California, Irvine.
Laurie told the AP that she wanted people to know how Jack had protected her, just as he always had done.
“I knew every day that he would protect me and take care of me and love me unconditionally, and what he did is no surprise to me, and he is my hero,” she said.
“They adored one another. She truly lost her soulmate,” Lauraine Cook, Laurie’s mother, told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s a greater loss obviously for the wife and the children. She’s my baby, an only baby, and we would do anything we could for her and for Jack. Not having another child or a son, he became more like a son to us.”
On Tuesday morning, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) paid tribute to Jack during a press conference.
“Jack Beaton, is a father of two and he was celebrating his 23rd wedding anniversary with his wife. When the shots rang out, he jumped in front of his wife and he gave the ultimate sacrifice for the one he loved,” McCarthy said.
How to help
Friends and family are asked to report missing people believed to be connected to the shooting using the hotline 1-800-536-9488.
Anyone with photo or video evidence of the shooting is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.
A victims’ fund has been started on GoFundMe by Steve Sisolak, the Clark County, Nevada, commission chair. Other groups providing relief include the local chapter of the American Red Cross and the National Compassion Fund.