Locals caught in hail of Vegas bullets



PRAYER VIGIL—Mourners gather at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in T.O. MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers

PRAYER VIGIL—Mourners gather at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in T.O. MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers

Calabasas resident Christina Kitcat will celebrate her 30th birthday on Oct. 10—from the bed of a Las Vegas hospital.

Kitcat was one of the hundreds injured in Sunday’s mass shooting at the Route 91 Music Festival. She was attending the concert with her boyfriend, who carried her to safety after she was struck by a bullet from the automatic weapons fire of lone gunman Stephen Paddock.

Kitcat survived the Oct. 1 massacre, but 59 other people did not, including two victims from Thousand Oaks, one from Simi Valley and one from Camarillo.

Kitcat, who works in television production, was struck by a bullet that pierced her upper arm, entered her chest and lodged in the left ventricle of her heart. Surgeons removed the bullet and the woman reportedly is in stable condition.

ROAD TO RECOVERY—Christina Kitcat and a canine friend in happier times, as seen in this photo from her GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/support-calabasas-vegas-victim. Below, Chamie Delkeskamp and Cori Hengst comfort each other during an Oct. 3 candlelight vigil at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in T.O.

ROAD TO RECOVERY—Christina Kitcat and a canine friend in happier times, as seen in this photo from her GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/support-calabasas-vegas-victim. Below, Chamie Delkeskamp and Cori Hengst comfort each other during an Oct. 3 candlelight vigil at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in T.O.

Kitcat’s family could not be reached for comment, but a child hood friend, Casey Napolitano, said the family left for Las Vegas Monday morning after learning about Kitcat’s condition and to be with her during her recovery.

MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers

MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers

Napolitano started an online fundraising campaign to help pay for Kitcat’s medical bills, and more than $64,000 has been raised. She said she felt sick after learning about the tragedy, and wanted to do something to help.

Kitcat and Napolitano met at Bay Laurel Elementary School in Calabasas 25 years ago. Napolitano said the two spent time together last weekend at an early celebration of Kitcat’s birthday.

“She’s the most outgoing, sweetest person, always laughing. I would say more than anyone I know she’s always the most down-to-earth and down to have fun,” Napolitano said. “She goes to all these events and she’s super into music. She would never talk bad about anyone or anything.

“It’s just crazy that this would happen to someone who’s always so positive and happy and fun. She’s such a good person,” the friend said.

‘A beautiful soul’

According to some estimates, as many as 100 Conejo Valley residents were at the music festival where the shooting took place.

Three died.

Killed in the massacre—the worst in modern American history— were Newbury Park resident Keri Galvan, 31, a mother of three young children who worked as a server at Mastro’s Restaurant on Thousand Oaks Boulevard; Laura Shipp, 50, a longtime Thousand Oaks resident and former school employee who attended the show with her son; and Christopher Hazencomb, 44, a Thousand Oaks High School graduate who jumped on top of his best friend’s wife as the gunfire rang out from above, and saved her life.

Susan Smith, a 53-year-old office manager at Vista Elementary School in Simi Valley, was also among the victims.

“Our community has lost a beautiful soul,” said a friend, Kathy Hinkle. “We cannot understand why; we can only pray for her family and our Vista Elementary families and surround them with love and support.”

During her 16 years with the Simi district, Smith worked at Simi, Atherwood, Township and Sycamore elementary schools. She had been working at Vista since 2014.

“She always had a smile on her face and . . . the kids loved her as well as all the staff and families,” said parent Charlene Tamparong.

Maryanne Hazencomb said she was getting ready for bed late Sunday night when her phone rang.

It was a friend of her son Christopher who told her he had been shot in the head during the rampage and was at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas.

The mother and other family members drove to Nevada in the early hours of Monday and rushed to the hospital to be at their son’s side before he was taken off life support at 10:50 a.m.

“There is nothing they could have done,” Hazencomb said.

“The bullet had shattered his brain stem. He was dead at the site, but they put him on the ventilator to keep him alive until we got there. His heart held out.”

And though the mother had just lost her only child, she took comfort in the fact that in his final moments, Christopher had saved the life of his best friend’s wife.

Melissa Simon, Dan Wolowicz, Dawn Megli-Thuna and Becca Whitnall contributed to this story.