Sunday’s horror in Las Vegas has hit, personally, a past Tigers player and current Tigers minor-league manager.
Gerald Laird departed Wednesday from Tigers Instructional Camp at Lakeland, Fla., to be with family in Las Vegas, where his first cousin, Christiana Duarte, 22, was among those killed Sunday in the mass shooting there.
Duarte had graduated last spring from the University of Arizona and was working with the Los Angeles Rams following an internship with the Diamondbacks and a summer position with the L.A. Kings.
“I was in Lakeland, in my hotel room, when I got the phone call about 3:30 in the morning, saying she was missing,” Laird said. “I stayed up the whole night and whole next day, and then we got the bad news Monday night late.
“You just wake up and can’t believe it’s real,” said Laird, who was a Tigers catcher during the 2009-10 and 2012 seasons, and who now manages the Single-A Connecticut Tigers.
Duarte was at a concert Sunday when Stephen Paddock sprayed bullets from a Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino room that killed 59 people and injured 515.
Duarte was the daughter of Laird’s aunt and uncle, Michael and Barbara Duarte. She was taking in the concert with the girlfriend of her brother, Mikey Duarte, a shortstop from the University of California-Irvine who in June was a 23rd-round draft pick by the White Sox. The girlfriend, Ariel Romero, a recent Loyola Marymount graduate, was shot in the mouth and underwent surgery Wednesday, Laird said.
“Her surgery went well, and she’s doing good,” Laird said.
But a family is grieving alongside 57 other families, as well as the constellations of friends, all wrenched by Sunday night’s carnage.
“She was just such a bright young girl,” Laird said. “Here she just graduated from the U of A. She had job offers everywhere. It seems like everyone has been honoring her.”
The Diamondbacks had a pregame moment of silence for Duarte ahead of Wednesday night’s playoff game against the Rockies. The Kings will show a pregame video honoring Duarte on Thursday night and will wear on their helmets decals bearing the initials CD.