A Navy veteran who survived the war in Afghanistan was one of the victims fatally shot at Sunday night’s massacre in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Christopher Roybal from Corona, California, was among the 59 people killed and 527 injured after gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on the outdoor crowd from his hotel room.
Roybal had been in the Navy for a decade and recently finished duty in Afghanistan, according to NBC4.
“He went to combat and came back without being injured, and then goes to a concert and dies,” the victim’s mother, Debby Allen, told NBC4.
Roybal was in Nevada to celebrate his 29th birthday next week, the mother said. They were both in Las Vegas to attend the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a country music festival.
In the chaos of the shooting, the two got separated, Allen on one side of the venue and her son on the other.
Allen described how she tried to find her son when a firefighter promised her he would try to find Roybal.
“He was trying to help him, but the gunfire was coming and he says he saw Christopher take his last breath,” Allen told NBC4.
In Roybal’s last public post on Facebook, posted around three months ago he discusses how it feels to be constantly asked what it’s like to be shot at, in reference to his time in the military.
“What’s it like being shot at? A question people ask because it’s something that less than one percent of our American population will ever experience. Especially one on a daily basis,” he wrote.
The veteran continued, “My response has always been the same, not one filled with a sense of pride or ego, but an answer filled with truth and genuine fear and anger.”
As Roybal recalled his days on duty, he said it was filled with adrenalin and sensory experiences, but he said the excitement dwindled as time went on.
“I remember that first day, not sure how to feel. It was never fear, to be honest, mass confusion. Sensory overload … followed by the most amount of natural adrenaline that could never be duplicated through a needle. I was excited, angry, and manic” he wrote.
“Unfortunately, as the fights continue and as they as increase in numbers and violence, that excitement fades and the anger is all that’s left,” Roybal reflected.
The veteran said that the anger he experienced stayed with him long after the fight.
“The anger stays, long after your friends have died, the lives you’ve taken are buried, and your boots are placed neatly in a box in some storage unit. Still covered in the dirt you’ve refused to wash off for fear of forgetting the most raw emotions you as a human being will ever feel again,” he wrote.
Royball concluded with this: “What’s it like to be shot at? It’s a nightmare no amount of drugs, no amount of therapy, and no amount of drunk talks with your war veteran buddies will ever be able to escape. Cheers boys.”
As news of his death spread, comments started flooding under his post, many offered condolences and thanked him for his service to America.