Massachusetts mom and music fan among 59 killed in Vegas

(PHOTO: NBC Boston)

A 42-year-old Tewksbury, Massachusetts woman was among those killed in Sunday's mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Rhonda LeRocque was among the victims of the shooting, according to her mother, Priscilla Champagne, of Lowell.

"We've lost a gem," Champagne told NBC Boston on Monday.

Gunfire broke out late Sunday night at the Route 91 Harvest Festival at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas strip. At least 59 people died and more than 500 were injured.

The suspected gunman, who killed more people than in any other modern American mass shooting, is believed to have killed himself before SWAT agents entered the room he was in. The gunman, identified as Stephen Craig Paddock, a 64-year-old retiree from Mesquite, Nevada, had as many as 23 guns with him, including rifles, they said.

Jennifer Zeleneski, LeRocque's half-sister, also spoke out on the senseless tragedy.

"She didn't deserve this, her family doesn't deserve this," Zeleneski said. "She was an amazing person - a great mom, great wife - she always had something nice to say when you needed it."

The Tewksbury resident had traveled to Las Vegas with her husband Jason and their 7-year-old daughter to attend the country music festival. They were music fans and big travelers.

"Just seeing her, there was light around her all the time, she was always smiling," Zeleneski said.

LeRocque's husband was not injured. Neither was their daughter. The child had left the concert with her grandfather right before the shooting took place.

Zeleneski said her brother-in-law thought his wife had ducked when the shots rang out.

"He thought she ducked and she didn't," said Zeleneski. "She was caught in the back of the head."

At her home, Rhonda's mother said she was the heart and soul of the family, the oldest of four girls, and that the mass shooting was completely senseless.

"I am going to miss my beautiful baby," said Champagne. "She was loved by everyone."

LeRocque's family said she and her husband were Jehovah's Witnesses and heavily involved with their religious community.

"It's not fair. I can't imagine what the other families are going through because this is so messed up," Zeleneski said.

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