Prayer vigil held in downtown Bakersfield for victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting

Karla Gutierrez, Reporter

In response to the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival where some local residents were killed or injured, a vigil was held on Oct. 2 in downtown Bakersfield.

The event took place at the Kern County Liberty Bell on Truxtun Avenue and was organized by Mayor Karen Goh. Some attendees gathered and prayed for the victims of the shooting, whether they were complete strangers, family or friends.

Chief Lyle Martin from the Bakersfield Police Department talked about, not only his colleague, but his friend Officer Aaron Mundhenke, who was injured.

“First, I am humble and want to thank this entire community for all the prayers, support and well wishes that have been sent to our offices regarding Officer Aaron Mundhenke and all the men and women of the Bakersfield Police Department,” said Chief Martin.

Chief Martin mentioned that not all heroes wear capes, but that some wear first responder uniforms or hospital scrubs. Some of the heroes, specifically the night of the Las Vegas shooting, wore wranglers, boots, cowboy or cowgirl hats, and even Jason Aldean t-shirts.

“I was a little overwhelmed when the text messages started coming in. We had 20 to 30 employees at the event. So when these text messages were coming in, [the Las Vegas shooting wasn’t] even on the news yet. I had no context to it. When it hit the news, I said to my wife ‘they need comfort. They need someone from home. They’re texting me and they’re all in shock,’” said Chief Martin.

Chief Martin remarked that he got a phone call from one of the chaplains that was in Las Vegas on another matter and offered his support services to injured officers. Chief Martin told the audience that the officers that were injured got to see a BPD Chaplain, a familiar face, to show up and deliver some comfort.

“Jesus works. God works in mysterious ways, but you have to believe,” said Chief Martin.

Pastor Ron Vietti made a point that the Las Vegas shooting is not going to stop people from going to concerts or events because that will just make people walk in fear.

“We’re not going to walk in fear,” he said. “We’re not going to stop going to concerts.”

Sonya Christian, president of Bakersfield College, had some words to say about this tragic incident on the Renegade Roundup.

“We live in a new world in ways that are hard to understand. There are real threats, and with that, we must face the reality that it can happen to anyone – in any place – even familiar places and [communities],” wrote Christian.

She mentioned that it is a constant effort to keep the community safe and that it takes constant awareness, understanding, and progress.