Samantha McDonald was expecting to be on the giving end of a program in which survivors of the Route 91 Harvest massacre in Las Vegas provided random acts of kindness in memory of each of the 58 victims killed. During her workday, Nov. 21, however, she was on the receiving end of that kindness.
McDonald is a site patient clerk at Animal Friends of the Valley in Wildomar. One of the people killed at the Route 91 Harvest concert was Corona resident Christopher Roybal, who had a love of dogs, and Animal Friends of the Valley was the recipient of the act of kindness in Roybal’s memory.
The surprise act of kindness began when McDonald’s co-workers requested her presence at the shelter’s night drop gate.
“One of the kennels was completely full of dog toys,” she said.
A note sent with the dog toys explained that the donation was in honor of Roybal.
“They didn’t choose it because of me,” McDonald said. “They chose whoever they wanted to honor. They chose to honor Christopher.”
McDonald normally has Thursdays and Sundays off from work. But that fateful weekend, McDonald, her husband and their roommates who are husband and wife left for Las Vegas, Sept. 28. They stayed at the Excalibur Hotel at the southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue. The Tropicana Hotel is at the southeast corner of that intersection. McDonald was attending the multiday Route 91 Harvest concert, which was held in an open area south of the Tropicana, for the first time.
The Luxor hotel faces immediately south of the Excalibur, and the Mandalay Bay is immediately south of the Luxor. A tram connects the three properties, and all three are also connected by a lower-level indoor walkway. During the night of Oct. 1, numerous gunshots were fired from a Mandalay Bay window across the street and into the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest concert. Fifty-eight people attending the concert were killed.
McDonald, her husband and their roommates were not shot. McDonald’s only injuries were some bruises, gained while running away from the gunfire, and some emotional injuries.
Roybal was among the fatalities. He was 28 years old.
McDonald and her group returned to the Excalibur and departed for Lake Elsinore immediately.
“We left right away,” she said. “We wanted to come home to our children.”
“I’m just very grateful that I was able to see another day,” she said.
Those who survived the tragedy began honoring the memories of those who didn’t.
“What a lot of us survivors have started to do is called 58 Random Acts of Kindness,” McDonald said.
Roybal had been a dog handler in the Navy.
“He was such an animal advocate,” McDonald said.
Stuffed animals and other dog toys were left in the night drop at Animal Friends of the Valley.
The note included read: “I am a survivor of the Route 91 mass shooting in Las Vegas. You are my second of 58 acts of kindness in remembrance and honor of Christopher Roybal, 28, CA, four-tour Navy vet (dog handler) who loved karaoke; one of our 58 angels who lost their lives that horrific night of 1 October. Faith, Hope and Love – but the greatest of these is love.”
McDonald has worked at Animal Friends of the Valley since May 2011.
“Yesterday was a pretty emotional day for me,” she said the following afternoon.
“It was neat how it came back around,” McDonald said. “It’s going to be nice to continue that.”