Tara Roe's death in Las Vegas 'heart-wrenching' for many, family friend says
Former Brandon, Man., resident is the 4th Canadian confirmed dead in Sunday's mass shooting
Family and friends of Tara Roe say the former Brandon resident was "a beautiful soul" whose loss will be devastating for many in the Manitoba city.
Sources close to the family of Roe, 34, told CBC News the Calgary-area woman was among the spectators at an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas, where a mass shooting Sunday night left dozens of people dead.
She is the fourth Canadian to be confirmed dead in the shooting. Initially reported missing by friends and family, Roe's photo was circulated on social media on Monday. Late Monday evening, friends and family got the grim news.
"It's still so fresh," said Loretta Hamilton, who lives on the same street in Brandon as Roe's parents. Her two daughters went to school with Roe and her sister, and grew up across the street from them.
"I wasn't sleeping all night. As a parent, as a mother, I couldn't turn off the idea of 18 hours of her being missing and then finding out your child is gone," she said.
Fifty-nine people have been confirmed killed and more than 500 injured after a gunman opened fire from 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, across the street from the country music show.
Hamilton said when word surfaced that Roe, a mother of two young children, became separated from her husband in the chaos, her heart sank.
"My heart just bled for him all day as he tried to find her," said Hamilton, who added that Roe's parents were in Okotoks, Alta. — where Roe lived — looking after the couple's two kids and home while they were gone.
Hamilton said she and her family made their way to Roe's sister's home in Brandon shortly after the news broke on Monday evening to be with her.
"We just tried to comfort her," she said. "She, of course, was wracking with sobs."
Roe's sister has since left for Alberta to be with the rest of her family.
Hamilton said she'll remember Roe as someone who was passionate about her work in the education sector, in her community and on her kids' sports teams. She also loved visiting Clear Lake every summer with her family.
"The hearts that have been broken today by Tara's loss … it's just mind blowing," said Hamilton.
"A shooter with a million bullets put a stop to her life, made her children motherless, devastated our neighbourhood."
Roe's aunt, Val Rodgers, described her niece as "a beautiful soul."
"She was a wonderful mother and our family is going to miss her dearly," Rodgers said when contacted at her home in Brandon, Man., on Tuesday.
John Bailey, the superintendent of the Foothills School Division in Alberta, where Roe worked as an educational assistant, released a statement expressing condolences.
"It has been a challenging time for our division, yet we continue to stand together and support one another. We have put our crisis-response team in place and they will remain as long as is needed to assist students and staff," he said.
Sophia Models International, a Calgary-based agency where Roe worked as a model for 10 years, also released a statement.
"We are saddened, shocked and pray for everyone affected by this tragedy," the agency said on Facebook. "She was always a friendly face and had a very caring spirit."
Loss will be felt by many
Hamilton said Roe's loss will hit the people on her quiet Brandon street hard. As a young girl, Roe spent many hours and days playing with the other neighbourhood kids.
"She was a skinny little stick. She was always into something," said Hamilton. "In the summertime it was racing bikes and boards down the hill, and in the winter it was toboggans."
She remembered Roe's wedding as "full of the most beautiful young ladies, who were school friends from Kirkcaldy Heights School."
But her loss will be felt far beyond Manitoba, she said.
"The families that are touched today, the hearts that are broken by the passing of Tara ... it's going to be life-changing for hundreds and thousands of us."
For now, she and her neighbours are still trying to get through a difficult day.
"When you're living it, it's a very, very hard day to get through. Every moment is heart-wrenching for us," she said. "The tears flow and you talk to each other, and we will get support from each other."
Hamilton plans to lay a wreath on Roe's parent's front doorstep.
"It will be meaningful to us," she said. "There's a lot of healing to be done and a lot of pain to be put aside."
With files from CBC Calgary and The Canadian Press