Christopher “Chris” Roybal of Corona, California was among the 58 victims of the Las Vegas concert shooting late Sunday. Roybal was a Navy veteran, having served in the Afghanistan war. In his last public post on Facebook, the 28-year-old wrote about what it was like to constantly be asked “What’s it like to be shot at?”
“I got him home safe from Afghanistan and never thought I would have to worry about losing him again. He used to tell me stories about how scary it was. He was in two gun battles where he thought he wouldn’t make it back home,” Roybal’s mother, Debby Allen, told the New York Daily News. “I was so proud to be his mom. He made me feel so happy.”
For those looking to donate to Roybal’s family, a GoFundMe account has been started on behalf of his mother. In only one day, $33,00 has been raised.
Late Sunday night, Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Casino & Resort in the direction of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said Monday afternoon that the death toll increased to 59, with at least 527 people injured, reports the Las Vegas Sun. The motive for the shooting remains unknown. It is the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Read on to learn more about Roybal’s life.
Roybal Was 28 Years Old & Served in the Afghanistan War
Roybal was 28 years old and served in the Afghanistan War as a member of the U.S. Navy, ABC News reports. He was shot in the chest.
Roybal’s friend Matthew Austin wrote on Facebook that the two joined the Navy when they were “just boys.”
“It breaks my heart and infuriates me that a veteran can come home from war unharmed and events like these occur,” Austin wrote. “Shipmate you were taken much to soon, and my thoughts and prayers are with your family. Rest easy friend. You have been relieved and we have the watch.”
Roybal served in the Navy from 2005 to 2012, his mother told the New York Daily News.
Roybal’s Mother Tried to Go Back & Save Her Son’s Life
Roybal’s mother, Debby Allen, told Gabby Hart of KSNV that she was also at the concert, but in a different section. “Says she tried to run toward him but bystander stopped her saying she couldn’t toward the gunfire,” Hart reported.
The 49-year-old Allen also told the New York Daily News that she tried to go back into the carnage to find her son.
“I desperately wanted to go back in to find him. Nobody would let me go back in, they were pulling me away. I kept screaming, ‘My son! My son!’ But they said, ‘You can’t go back into the gunfire,'” she told the Daily News. “It was horrible. I couldn’t keep my feet underneath me. I kept collapsing. I just wanted to go back in so badly. But people were jumping over everything to get out.”
She said they were in Las Vegas to celebrate her son’s upcoming 29th birthday.
“He was the most funny, amazing guy ever. He loved karaoke and all types of music. He had a knack for singing Spanish love songs. He loved to watch chick flicks with me,” Allen said of her son.
Roybal’s Last Facebook Post Is About How He Responds to ‘What’s It Like Being Shot At’
Roybal’s last Facebook post is a long statement about how he responds to the question “What’s it like being shot at?” He explained what his first day in Afghanistan was like.
Roybal wrote on July 18:
Finishing up what was supposed to be a quick 4-hour foot patrol, I remember placing my hand on the Stryker and telling Bella how well she did. Hearing the most distinct sounds of a whip cracking and pinging of metal off of the vehicle I just had my hand resting on is something that most see in movies.
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. Ready to take on what became normal everyday life in the months to follow. Taking on the fight head on, grabbing the figurative “Bull by the horns”.
In the end, Roybal wrote that being shot at is “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.”
According to his Facebook page, he served in Sperwan, Kandahar in Afghanistan.
Roybal Lived in Corona, California & Studied Business at the University of Phoenix
Roybal’s Facebook page lists his current hometown as Corona, California, a city in Riverside County. He also posted that he took business courses at the online University of Phoenix.
A Friend Has Already Raised Over $1,600 for Roybal’s Family
LeeAnn Klein of Riverside, California launched a GoFundMe page to help Roybal’s family. In the first 35 minutes, she raised $1,670.
“He had the biggest heart and was loved by all his family & friends. We are raising money to help his family with funeral costs,” Klein wrote. “My name is LeeAnn and I am a friend of Chris’s. I see the impact he had on all of us around him and he will be greatly missed.”
“Chris was the kindest most selfless human being I’ve ever met. He could instantly light up a room. All he wanted was to make his friends, and even random strangers, happy. He is truly one of a kind, and will be missed,” Taylor Janda, one of Roybal’s friends, told Heavy.com.