Like many people, Denise Giordano woke up in the early morning hours of October 2, turned on the television news and learned about the horrific actions of a gunman in Las Vegas that killed 58 people attending a country music concert the night before and wounded 489.
Little did the Yorktown resident know that one of the concertgoers who was shot was her niece, Samantha Faranda, 26, who lives in Las Vegas and was enjoying the Route 91 Harvest Festival with a group of friends when Stephen Paddock decided to open fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay resort casino in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
“Never in my mind did I think Sam was there,” Giordano said. “When I found out I was totally in shock. It really hit home.”
Later that morning, Giordano was informed by her sister-in-law that Faranda, daughter of Giordano’s late brother, who was killed in a one-car accident in Las Vegas in 2010, was shot three times—twice in the arm and once in her right side, which just missed striking her organs.
“She was very lucky,” Giordano said. “You think, why? My God. My heart goes out to all those families. My thought was my brother was her guardian angel there.”
In an interview she gave from her bed at Sunrise Hospital, Faranda said she heard popping that sounded like fireworks, “then the sounds came again and everyone started running when they realized it was shooting. We started dropping to the floor so they wouldn’t hit us.”
Faranda found herself alone after she was shot and bleeding until two men came to her rescue, picked her up and carried her to an ambulance where a firefighter friend was there to further assist her.
“It’s amazing how everyone helped out there,” Giordano said. “I thank God she’s okay. It was frustrating not knowing. She was on so much pain medication. From what we heard there was much worse situations.”
Faranda underwent surgery and was released from the hospital on Friday. A property manager in Las Vegas, she will be recuperating with her mother in California, according to Giordano, who noted a male friend of Faranda also was shot in the back of the leg but his injury was not life threatening.