Patty LaRoche: Asking ‘Why?’

Dave and I are in Las Vegas this week. Yesterday we took a break from helping Dave’s daughter Nikki care for her husband, Dave, who had major knee surgery. We went property-hunting and met with a realtor who spent several minutes assuring us of the safety in this area. “Casino owners will not tolerate ANYTHING that will cause tourists not to come here. They run the show. They run the government. You can’t find a safer place to live.”

Comforting thought.

Only he was wrong.

The phone call came in the middle of the night. Quentin, our grandson Logan’s best friend and one we have known since the boys were little, was killed by a crazed lunatic who opened fire during the final song of a Country Western concert held on the strip here in Vegas. Quentin and his girlfriend were dancing near the front of the stage when the “popping” started. When the singer, Jason Aldean, ran for his bus as bullets sprayed the stage, Quentin pushed his girlfriend to the floor and lay on top of her. During the 15-second break in gunshots, Quentin got to his knees to seek a way of escape. It was then that a bullet entered through his shoulder and exited near his hip. He was dead within minutes.

Quentin wasn’t supposed to be there. His girlfriend and her roommate had tickets, but when her roommate decided not to go, Quentin was offered the ticket. As a huge fan of Jason Aldean, he was thrilled. His story is one of many to be shared over the next several days as 60+ families will be organizing funerals for loved ones who, just a few minutes before being shot, were having the time of their lives. Questions will be relentless:

What turns someone into a monster capable of killing so many innocent people?

How can one person get ahold of so many assault weapons?

Do we blame the guns or blame the shooter?

Are we safe to go anywhere in public?

And the elephant in the room…Why?

Nikki’s family went over to Quentin’s home this morning. A tearful Nikki asked what she could take or say to help comfort his family. I told her what I tell everyone: Hug them. Cry with them. Pray for them.

Today Logan and I had a sweet conversation about Quentin. He was a high school JV basketball coach and avid golfer who was attending UNLV to become a dentist while working full time for the recreation department. He was the quarterback for his adult flag football team and played slow pitch softball once a week. He was quiet and unassuming and a great guy.

So much to offer…so, why?

Because, doggone it, this is a fallen, broken world (and yes, I hate that that is the answer). Death was not part of God’s original design. Life was meant to lead to life until eternity. Instead, it is a curse set in motion when Adam and Eve sinned. Death makes us hunger for things to be better; it makes us long to live in a place where true restoration happens and the last enemy—death—has been defeated.

The great Protestant reformer Martin Luther lost a son. His wife Katie shouted at him, “Where was God when our son died? Martin replied, “The same place He was when His Son died. He was there watching and weeping.”

Just like He was last Sunday night.

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