Vegas survivor dies in bar attack
Veteran survived deadliest shooting in U.S. history
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Tel Orfanos lived through the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history only to lose his life in another one less than 10 minutes from his home barely a year later, a tragic coincidence that has devastated his friends and family.
The veteran was among at least several survivors of last year's Las Vegas massacre who were at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks when a gunman stormed in and killed 12 people late Wednesday. While the others became twotime survivors, Orfanos died.
“He survived Vegas, where a lot more people died than this. It's just unreal,” his friend Aliza Thomas said Friday. “It's not fair.”
Thomas, who has known Orfanos since they were in high school, said her friend didn't talk much about his experience in Vegas. Orfanos liked to focus on the positive.
“He was always such a happy person,” she said.
Orfanos' mother, Susan Schmidt-Orfanos, was shaking with rage and grief when she spoke about how her son was unable to survive two mass killings.
“Here are my words: I want gun control,” Schmidt-Orfanos told The Associated Press. “I don't want prayers. I don't want thoughts.”
She said she wanted Congress “to pass gun control so no one else has a child that doesn't come home.”
Dani Merrill, who survived both Vegas and Borderline, was among mourners at a packed theater Thursday honoring Orfanos and the others who lost their lives in the shooting at the bar.
“I'm super upset that it happened in our home, and I feel awful for the families that have to go through this,” said Merrill, the exhaustion evident in her eyes.
“I didn't sleep,” she explained. “It's hard to sleep after these kinds of things. You don't know how to feel.”