LAS VEGAS — As Maui Police Chief John Pelletier leads the search for remains in the aftermath of the deadliest U.S. wildfire in over a century, he reflects on the lessons learned from another tragic event he experienced firsthand: the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting.
Pelletier, who was a Las Vegas police captain during the mass shooting, draws parallels between the challenges faced in both situations. In the Las Vegas shooting, a gunman fired on a crowd of thousands attending a country music festival from a hotel window, leaving 58 dead and hundreds injured.
Pelletier’s role in identifying victims and notifying their families during that time was emotionally taxing. Now, as he oversees the search for victims’ remains in the ashes of the Lahaina community in Maui, he urges patience, prayers, and perseverance, echoing the same message he shared in Las Vegas.
In both cases, Pelletier understands the immense pain that comes with the identification process and notifying families of the deceased. He acknowledges the pressure to quickly find and identify victims while emphasizing the importance of conducting the process with care and accuracy.
Pelletier’s experience in Las Vegas has shaped his approach to handling similar tragedies, and he emphasizes the need for community support and cooperation during these challenging times. He urges people to provide DNA samples to aid in the identification of victims and stresses that the focus should be on doing things right, rather than rushing to provide a death toll.
While the situations are different, Pelletier’s role in both the Las Vegas mass shooting and the Maui wildfire has highlighted the profound impact of tragedy on individuals, families, and communities. His experience serves as a reminder of the importance of empathy, compassion, and resilience in the face of devastating events.