SCV mass shooting victims recover with fortitude, empathy for others

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Many of the Santa Clarita Valley residents shot and wounded in Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas expressed concern for shooting victims Tuesday – not for themselves.  Their unease was for the victims less fortunate – not recovering and those struggling with loss.

Jessi Presten, who was shot in the leg Sunday, returned to her Valencia home Tuesday, trying to process the horror of what she had been through.

Jessi Presten. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

“I really can’t complain,” she told The Signal Tuesday. “I have nothing to complain about.”

When asked how she’s doing, her answer is simple and selfless: “Better than the others. I’m lucky.”

At least 59 people were killed and at least 527 were wounded Sunday in what authorities reported early Monday to be the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history after a gunman began shooting from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, in Las Vegas.

In details about the shooting revealed at a press conference Monday afternoon, officials identified the gunman as Stephen Craig Paddock, a 64-year old retired accountant from Mesquite, Nevada. The gunman killed himself as officers stormed his hotel room.

The injured Santa Clarita residents were among more than two dozen residents who attended Sunday’s ill-fated Route 91 Harvest Music Country Festival.

Jessi Presten

When the shooting began, Presten and her friends thought it was fireworks. Then people around her began dropping to the ground, she said.

“People were trying to figure out what it was,” she said.

When she learned it was gunfire, she dropped to the ground. That’s when she was shot.

Dominica Zeolla. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

“I said ‘It’s real. I’ve been shot. We’ve got to go.’ Then a woman next to me was shot in the head,” she said, noting it’s those victims, the unlucky ones, she feels for.

Presten said her brother-in-law scooped her up and carried her off the street.

On Tuesday, she flew home to Valencia. “I’m just trying to process it all,” she said.

Dominica Zeolla

Dominica Zeolla who was also shot told her mother, Debra, to share a message with The Signal.

“Dominica is so grateful for every prayer sent her way. She is so sorry for every family who had to endure this,” Debra Zeolla told The Signal Tuesday afternoon.

“I just got off the phone with her an hour ago,” she said at 4 p.m. “She is having a difficult time breathing.

“She wants everyone to know that she is one of the lucky ones,” her mother said. “The amount of unbelievable love coming in from all over – Dominica wants everyone to know that she is praying for everyone.”

“She said ‘mom, I get to go home, others won’t be able to,” Debra Zeolla said.

Cesar Ranuschio

Likewise, friends of Cesar Ranuschio, told The Signal Tuesday that he is thankful to be alive having come just one-eighth of an inch from dying.

Cesar Ranuschio with fiance, Jessica. Photo courtesy of Ann Marlett-Scholzen.

The bullet that hit him in the chest was found by surgeons to be one eighth of an inch from his heart.

“He is doing well,” said Ann Marlett-Scholzen. “He had open heart surgery. But, he is recovering.”

Marlett-Scholzen is the friend who set up a fundraising site online through GoFundme to help her friend.

“Ranuschio was in Las Vegas with his fiancé Jessica when he was shot in the shoulder,” she wrote on the site.

“During surgery it was discovered that the bullet had moved and lodged in his heart. A second surgery was required,” she wrote.

The outcome of that surgery was a positive one, she said Tuesday.

Susie LaPorte

Also recovering from surgery Tuesday was Susie LaPorte, of Valencia, who was shot twice – once in the upper torso and once in the neck.

“Susie’s condition is stable,” her friend Bobbie Burrows told The Signal.

“They (doctors) are trying to lessen the sedation today,” she said Tuesday.

Susie LaPorte. Courtesy photo.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, La Porte was still in the intensive care unit of a Las Vegas hospital.

“The family so appreciates the community’s support and prayers,” Burrows said.

Other SCV victims who were shot and wounded were reported to be recovering Tuesday.

Other local people wounded in the mass shooting reported to be recovering Tuesday include: Travis Phippen, Kim Peoples, Bruce “Bud” Wayne Horn and Sgt. Andy Dahring, with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

[email protected]

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on Twitter @jamesarthurholt

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