LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The site of the 1 October mass shooting will always be hallowed ground. Soon, some of the land will be turned into a memorial to those lost and a tribute to survivors. However, the valley’s first place to come together and mourn will always remain.
The Downtown Healing Garden first started in a coffee shop. Landscape architect Jay Pleggenkuhle was trying to start his day the Monday after the shooting when an idea came to him.
“I was having coffee at a little café, the waitress was so distraught. I asked if she was going to be okay and she told me this horrific story about how her daughter called and said, ‘They’re shooting at me, they’re shooting at me.'” Pleggenkuhle said. “I just realized, this changed everything. This always happens somewhere else and this time it was our backyard.”
Pleggenkuhle realized that there needed to be a place for people to come together.
“By chance, I had the city attorney’s number. I called to ask if there was a place we could set up a memorial, a garden,” he explained. “They said, ‘Would this piece of property work?’ I said, sure. The next question was, what are you going to do with it? Well, I told them we’d be done in a week.”
Pleggenkuhle said it was more about coming together and not a finished product. He then went to a coffee shop and started doodling a few ideas.
“When things like this happen, we can either come together or become angry and fragmented. luckily, the city bought into the idea and it came together,” Pleggenkuhle said.
From a coffee shop napkin to shovels in the ground, the Healing Garden took shape. Now, far from downtown, a new memorial is planned at the site of the 1 October massacre.
“With the memorial, it’s a chance to learn who these people really were. What this event was, why it happened and really make us think. I think it needs to happen,” he said.