Hundreds attend vigil for Las Vegas victims at Southern Utah University

Posted at 8:18 PM, Oct 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-04 23:26:56-04

CEDAR CITY, Utah -- Hundreds turned out here at Southern Utah University for a candlelight vigil to mourn the dead and pray for the wounded in the Las Vegas Strip shooting.

Southern Utah University students comfort each other at a candlelight vigil in Cedar City. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Many SUU students and faculty are among those caught up in the killing spree. The university said one of its students was wounded and remains hospitalized. Others were evacuated from the Strip on Sunday night or know those who were shot or injured.

"I have two relatives and their three children who were critically wounded at the event," Nicole Hyden told FOX 13.

Friends hugged her as she cried, clutching a tea candle and grieving.

"My heart is so full, it goes out to so many people," Hyden said. "It’s amazing how this has affected everybody, not just Vegas, everyone."

SUU has felt a particular bond with Las Vegas. A large number of its student body comes from the city.

Southern Utah University students hug following a vigil in Cedar City for victims of the Las Vegas shooting. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

"We had students there, we had students that witnessed it. We want to take care of them," said Mindy Benson, SUU's Vice-President of Alumni & Community Relations.

The university has provided counselors for anyone who wants to talk about and process the madness of what happened. At Wednesday night's vigil, a counselor told students they could expect to feel things like shock, sorrow, numbness and disillusionment. He gave them coping tips.

Cameron Cox said the night of the shooting, his phone lit up with anxious relatives asking if he was OK. He was nearby attending a Golden Knights game.

"This vigil is definitely a comforting experience. It’s something that brings the community closer," he said.

Students participate in a moment of silence for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Ryan Leonard, who was also on the Las Vegas Strip that night, said he has friends who were injured. He also found comfort in the show of support by his fellow students.

"There’s people that are feeling the same thing," he said. "It’s important to know that no matter where it’s at, there’s still love and support throughout a community."

On Thursday, the university is participating in a blood drive in Cedar City to help the wounded in Las Vegas. SUU is offering free transportation to students who want to donate blood.