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Las Vegas Shooting Victims Memorialized at Indian River Medical Center Chapel

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

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They prayed for the injured and dead in Las Vegas.

They prayed for their loved ones.

They prayed for doctors and nurses, police and military, firefighters and emergency responders.

The gathering of about 15 people in Indian River Medical Center’s chapel even prayed Thursday for Stephen Paddock, 64, the man who fired indiscriminately on thousands of attendees of the Route 91 Harvest music festival Sunday night.

Paddock killed 58 people and injured more than 500 before killing himself in the worst mass shooting in modern American history.

Rabbi Michael Hirnholz encouraged those gathered to find the strength to respond to the tragedy with love and light.

“Turn and take that energy and give someone a smile. Give them a hug. Let hands touch hands and souls touch souls, because that’s the way we fend off the darkness,” he said.

Community members sat for 20 minutes in wooden pews and metal folding chairs in the small chapel near the visitor’s entrance to the hospital.

They sang and read Scripture, led by Mindy Serafin, chaplain of Indian River Medical Center; Birnholz, rabbi of Temple Beth Shalom; and Chuck Hauber, former bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Vero Beach.

Tomasina Phinizee, who has worked at the hospital for 36 years, took a break from work to attend the service.

“With what’s going on today in the world and nation, we need prayer and gathering,” Phinizee said. “I come in here every time I get a chance just to fall on my knees and pray. This is where I get a lot of comfort from.”

The service began and ended with the flicking on of an electric white candle at the center of the chapel, which had walls of stained glass windows depicting brightly colored nature scenes.

Hauber praised the unity of the spiritual community in Vero Beach in the wake of tragedy that has directly and indirectly affected local residents.

“It was just an incredibly spiritual experience to be with the rest of the religious community in Vero Beach,” Hauber said after the service ended.

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