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Nevada tragedy hits close to home for Hendersonville visitor

“It's really heartbreaking to wake up and hear the news,” said Michelle Kokuzian, who was visiting family in Hendersonville. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The list of mass shootings is growing -- from Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, to the Charleston church shooting in 2015, to the Orlando Pulse Club killings in 2016 to Nevada’s Mandalay Bay massacre on Sunday.

“It's really heartbreaking to wake up and hear the news,” said Michelle Kokuzian, who was visiting family in Hendersonville.

For Kokuzian, the tragedy hits close. She and her husband, who live in Tucson, were at Mandalay Bay just two weeks ago. But that was not nearly as unnerving as the text she received this morning.

“See, my daughter, who's at the University of Arizona, her roomate's boyfriend was actually there, at the concert, and sent back texts saying, 'blood all over me, running over bodies.’ It’s really sad."

“This type of thing can happen anywhere, at any time,” said Mark Cooper, who, with his wife, was visiting Hendersonville from Beaufort, South Carolina. Cooper said he saw a morning cable news show in which he thought the anchor sensationalized how people felt watching the story unfold. While empathetic, Cooper said he refuses to cower to fear of going out and living life.

“If you want to live the rest of your life worrying about being frightened, well, that's not how I chose to live my life," he said.

“You just have to go on,” Sharon Cooper said. “It's sad and horrible, but there's just crazy people in the world."

Henderson County Sheriff Charles McDonald, who’s been in office for five years and is running for re-election, is against restricting gun laws. While having individuals armed on the ground of the Vegas concert would not have made any difference in shooting Stephen Craig Paddock, McDonald thinks it’s anyone’s right to train to carry a gun and use it if they find themselves in grave danger.

“If I go downtown with my wife and kids, I'm always thinking about their safety," McDonald said. "I'm not waiting on the law officer down the street or the federal government to make us safe. I know the safety, and safety of others around me, falls to me. I think that's how it should be in a free society.”

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