A Father Races To Vegas After His Daughter Is Shot
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep in Las Vegas, overlooking Las Vegas Boulevard, the Arc de Triomphe at the Paris casino just across the way from us. And we have the story this morning of a father whose daughter was shot here on Sunday. Her name is Danae Gibbs. She's a recent college graduate from Texas. She came to Vegas with friends to celebrate her birthday.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Now she is in the hospital. And, as we'll hear in a moment, she is recovering from a wound that she'll carry for a long time. Danae's father and other relatives are staying in shifts by her bedside.
INSKEEP: We met the father, Darrell Gibbs, in a Las Vegas hotel in between his visits to his daughter. He had graying hair and glasses, and a checked shirt and a mild expression. He works as a federal corrections counselor, meaning that he advises inmates as they leave a Texas prison.
How'd you get into that line of work?
DARRELL GIBBS: Honestly? I applied for a job. For 6 bucks an hour, I was working with the worst of the worst in Louisiana, and I figured if I was going to do anything, I might as well go with the federal government. It pays pretty decent. And lo and behold, 21 years later, here I am.
INSKEEP: His work with convicts is one of many factors that influence the way he thinks about the shooting of his daughter. On Saturday, she was in Las Vegas, sending her father pictures of her standing in front of a casino. On Sunday, she attended a country music concert - that country music concert.
So how did you first hear the news?
GIBBS: She attempted to call me as the situation was unfolding. Unfortunately, my phone had - had died and just wasn't recharging for whatever reason. So she texted my wife. At that point, she said, Dad, I'm sorry. I didn't mean for this to happen. She woke me up and said, this is just a strange text. So I called her, and she answered her phone. And that is right before they brought her into the OR. She was really groggy. She was apologetic. She was telling me, tell - tell Mommy I love her. I love you. I said, baby girl, it's going to be OK. Don't - don't worry about it.
INSKEEP: She was wounded twice by the same bullet.
GIBBS: She was laying on her back, and the bullet grazed across her upper left thigh and into her lower abdomen.
INSKEEP: As you say that I'm thinking about angles. I'm thinking about a gunman up in the hotel 500 yards away...
INSKEEP: ...And she's laying down. Was she laying down to try to take cover?
GIBBS: When the shooting started they all dropped down. The bullet's still inside her, pretty close to her spine. It'll remain there.
INSKEEP: So she's just going to be...
GIBBS: She'll be metal-detected every time she goes through an airport metal detector (laughter). She'll go off.
INSKEEP: After learning this news in Texas, her father raced to the airport, missed the first flight to Vegas, but caught the second.
What was it like to be on that flight?
GIBBS: I hadn't flown in years so now I didn't know you can watch cable TV on - on flights. And so I put it on the news, and of course it's - it's everything that's going on.
INSKEEP: You're watching videos of what happened?
GIBBS: Yeah, I'm watching, you know, newscasters and everybody. And, you know, and just hearing the - the rapid sound of the gun going off. And it just made me - you know, made me - when people were asking me, well, how - you know, I said, you know, I'm not mad at the gunman. I'm not mad. I mean, guy didn't know my daughter. He didn't know anybody. He just - he acted selfishly. And I told somebody, I'm still - I'm - I'm a Second Amendment person. I carry a weapon. And the weapons didn't do it. It was the person behind them. This guy made a conscious decision to to - to affect thousands and thousands of lives. But my daughter is strong. She's going to recover from this.
INSKEEP: You said you're a Second Amendment guy.
GIBBS: Of course.
INSKEEP: You don't blame the gun for this.
GIBBS: Absolutely not.
INSKEEP: You blame the person.
GIBBS: Of course.
INSKEEP: What do you think is causing these mass shootings?
GIBBS: A godless society.
INSKEEP: Despite his daughter's injury, Darrell Gibbs says he will not support stricter gun control. And thanks to his work in prison, he feels at least a small degree of empathy for the man who shot his daughter.
What's she been like the last couple days, when she's been conscious?
GIBBS: She's been very upbeat when she's not hurting real bad. She threatened me if I started crying or breaking down that I had to leave so I - I haven't done that. And I'm not going to do that around her, which is OK. I need her to know that - that I'm strong enough to - to hold it in.
INSKEEP: Are you faking it?
GIBBS: That's a pretty view out there.
INSKEEP: (Laughter) That window, it's a pretty view.
GIBBS: It is. Look at it.
INSKEEP: All right. It is a pretty view.
GIBBS: You see? Now you agree with me.
INSKEEP: That was a good change of subject.
GIBBS: I don't know what you're talking about.
INSKEEP: I was impressed. I just got one more question. You were very thoughtful before talking about how this one guy affected thousands of lives. What do you think about when you consider that one person could take in his hands the power to end so many lives and change so many lives? Just one person.
GIBBS: This guy affected thousands upon thousands of people - moms and dads with kids, little kids. Bunch of recent graduates from college. Bunch of boyfriend and girlfriends, newlyweds. In a split second, their life becomes wrapped up in a town called Las Vegas.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: Darrell Gibbs, of Texas, is himself one of those whose lives are suddenly wrapped up in this town.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.