‘It’s 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,’ says victim
In the years stretching from 1968 to 2011, more Americans were killed by gun violence than in all of the wars waged by the country.
Christopher Roybal provides a powerful example of how this grizzly statistic can manifest itself – the Navy veteran survived the war in Afghanistan but was tragically shot in Las Vegas on Sunday.
Carnage was unleashed in Vegas after an outdoor country music event near the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino in the Nevada city was plagued with a shower of bullets on Sunday evening.
At least 59 people were killed and more than 527 were injured after Steven Paddock, a “lone wolf” armed with 23 weapons and two tripods, opened fire from a hotel room.
Mr Roybal, a 28-year-old southern California native who had recently returned from Afghanistan, was at the concert with his mother. However, the pair ended up getting separated and she ran towards the gunfire to try and track him down.
“He went to combat and came back without being injured, and then goes to a concert and dies,” the mother told NBC4.
The veteran is believed to have been in the Nevada city to celebrate his upcoming 29th birthday before getting caught up in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
In his last public post on Facebook, shared around three months ago, Mr Roybal discussed what it was like to be perpetually probed about what it is like to be shot.
He wrote: “’What’s it like being shot at?’ A question people ask because it’s something that less than one per cent of our American population will ever experience. Especially one on a daily basis.”
The veteran continued: “My response has always been the same, not one filled with a sense of pride or ego, but an answer filled with truth and genuine fear and anger”.
Casting his mind back to his first firefight, he said he did not feel fear but instead felt confused and overwhelmed by a plethora of sensory experiences.
He said: “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.”
Nevertheless, he found his excitement began to dwindle as time went on and was instead usurped by rage.
“Unfortunately, as the fights continue and as they as increase in numbers and violence, that excitement fades and the anger is all that’s left,” he reflected.
“The anger stays, long after your friends have died, the lives you’ve taken are buried and your boots are placed neatly in a box in some storage unit. Still covered in the dirt you’ve refused to wash off for fear of forgetting the most raw emotions you as a human being will ever feel again.”
He concluded: “What’s it like to be shot at? It’s 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. Cheers boys.”
Mr Roybal’s friend Matthew Austin said the two joined the Navy when they were “just boys.”
“Today Christopher Roybal was taken from us on American soil. Chris and myself joined the Navy together when we were just boys,” he said in a Facebook post. “It breaks my heart and infuriates me that a veteran can come home from war unharmed and events like these occur. Shipmate you were taken much too soon, and my thoughts and prayers are with your family.”
America has once again been thrust into mourning after chaos erupted across Las Vegas on Sunday night. Two festival-goers said they initially heard a noise “like firecrackers” but it became clear a shooter, who discharged hundreds of bullets using an automatic weapon, was unloading “clip after clip” into the crowd.