More than 800 attended a funeral Saturday for 54-year-old Bakersfield, California resident Jack Beaton, who died in the Las Vegas mass shooting less than a week before while protecting his wife from a hail of gunfire as they attended a country music festival.
“I knew every day that he would protect me and take care of me and love me unconditionally, and what he did is no surprise to me,” his wife, Laurie, told The Associated Press. “He is my hero.”
Beaton, a hard-working roofer, was remembered as a fun-loving friend and devoted husband and father, according to the AP. He and Laurie were attending the Route 91 Harvest festival on the Las Vegas strip to celebrate their 23rd wedding anniversary.
When the gunshots began, Beaton instructed his wife to “get down!” before shielding her body with his one for protection.
Jack. Beaton. pic.twitter.com/dqgnIyx3Vt
— Julian Routh (@julianrouth) October 3, 2017
Beaton died in his wife’s arms.
“He told me, ‘I love you, Laurie,’ and his arms were around me and his body just went heavy on me,” she said.
Laurie Beaton said she realized her husband was dead when she told him she loed him and he didn’t respond.
“I screamed his name and he wasn’t answering me. There was a lot of blood,” she said.
While bullets were still zooming toward the crowd, a nurse and emergency responder approached the couple, instructing Laurie to put her husband on his side as Jack struggled to breath. Someone then told Laurie to run to safety.
The group ran, and when they went back for Jack, the couldn’t find him, the AP reported. After calling hospitals, the coroner’s office eventually confirmed that he was among the dead.
Beaton leaves behind a son, 20, and daughter, 18.
— Jabroni (@BeatonJakeOff) October 2, 2017
Beaton’s family displayed photos of him in his high school football jersey as well as his wedding photos inside the church.
Bakersfield is considered the West Coast’s version of Nashville, according to the AP. Several other members of the Bakersfield community who attended the festival were victims of the shooting, which killed 58 people and injured more than 450 others.
One of Beaton’s neighbors, Jeff Sallee, described him as someone who would put others first. Friends remembered Beaton’s love of camping and easy smile.
While in Las Vegas on Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence praised Beaton for his heroic actions.
(H/T: The Associated Press)