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Father, Friends Remember Minnesota Man Killed in Las Vegas Shooting

October 03, 2017 11:07 PM

(KSTP) -- Friends and family of the Minnesota man killed in Sunday's shooting in Las Vegas remember him as, "sweet and loving" and say they were, "proud to have known him."

Relatives said they learned Tuesday afternoon that 44-year-old Steve Berger died from a gunshot wound

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"At least the wait is over," his father, Richard Berger, said through tears.

Berger's father said it took two painful days before they knew their son did not survive the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival. Berger's parents said they knew he went to Vegas with friends to celebrate his 44th birthday.

Berger's dad said Steve was a single dad to three children.

"Steve was the most humble guy," Richard Berger said. "Just a great father."

Sally Clayburn, Steve Berger's neighbor, said her children and Berger's would regularly play together.

"Their dad was kind of their everything," she said. "He was their sole provider, he was sweet and loving. I am very shocked."

In addition to being a father, Berger worked at th financial firm EFS Advisors.  The owner, Kent Schutte, has known him since he was in college at St. Olaf.

"I'm so proud to have known him," Schutte said. "I am so proud to have had him as part of my life."

Berger's dad said friends took a photo of Steve to the coroner Tuesday, who confirmed his death.  Berger's father said he doesn't know how the family plans to move forward.

"Who thought you would bury your son," he said "It's always the other way around. The son buries the father."

Berger's parents plan to come to Minnesota by the end of the week to make arrangements.

On Tuesday, Josh Decker, a friend who was with Berger in Las Vegas, posted on social about what occurred that night. Decker said he heard what he thought were fire crackers, but soon realized they were gunshots.

He said he saw people, "fall like dominoes." He also spoke of the shock of seeing Berger injured.

Decker said Berger — who was his college roommate — was more like a brother than a best friend.

You can read his entire statement below.


Josh Decker's Facebook post about the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival:

Jason Aldean had just started, and was maybe 4 or 5 songs into the night, when I heard what I thought was firecrackers to my right. We were just a few rows from the front, to the right of the stage with our backs to Mandalay Bay. Then people started to fall like dominoes and I turned around and saw a guy with a bloodied face, the music stopped and people started to scream. We got down low and realized someone was shooting at the crowd. I grabbed K… hand and she was covered up by another person who was trying to get down and you just felt like you were going to be the next one hit. I looked forward and saw Steve laying there about 6 or 8 feet in front of me. His chest was bloody and his eyes closed.

The gunshots would stop, and then start again. You felt like the next one was going to hit you. The crowd started to flee, but we felt trapped with all the exits behind us and all the people in between us and the exits. Eventually after a few minutes K and I crawled on our hands and knees to the metal fence barrier that they have set up so no one can reach the stage. We were laying down next to this and felt like this was the best place. By this time, a man who knew CPR and a couple of others including my friend B  were working on trying to stop the bleeding and keep Steve breathing. I would rise up when I saw security guard or medical person and yell for an ambulance. I would scream that he was critically hurt and was told 'there aren't enough people here to help everyone'. We had a couple of people approach and take Steve's pulse and say he had no pulse but we didn't care we stayed with him.

A man approached us and he shook my hand and identified himself as a former Marine and said we had to get out, that we were targets as long as we stayed. He said we cannot help our friend anymore and I looked at K and she was very scared and wanted to go. By this time the place was almost empty, we ran all the way from the front of the venue to the back .... passing motionless bodies and lots of garbage and as we exited we saw a SWAT team that was entering from the back and they told us to get out of sight so we found a large palm tree we could hide behind and stayed there for 10 or 15 minutes waiting to hear that we could walk the street safely or they got the person. We eventually walked to the Tropicana and stayed there with friends and the lockdown that ensued.

Just got official word that Steve has passed and that I can speak about him now in the past tense, which is very, very hard. He and I had a special bond, he was more than a best friend. He was like my brother - like family. Please pray for his children and his parents and sister.


Credits

Beth McDonough

Copyright 2017 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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