Christopher Roybal was in Las Vegas in honor of his 29th birthday but now, instead of planning a celebration, his family is planning a funeral.
The decorated Navy veteran was one of at least 59 people killed when a gunman opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas late Sunday night. More than 500 others were injured. He had been attending the concert with his mom, who said the pair became separated when they heard gunshots.
Roybal recently moved to Colorado for a job with Crunch Fitness in Colorado Springs.
“When I think about Chris, I think about the fact that here’s a guy who served our country, he served in the U.S. Navy, who’s in Afghanistan, and he signed up to be in war and to face military weapons, but yet as a civilian? Nobody signs up for that,” Ryan Chiaverini, a member of Roybal’s family, told 9NEWS.
Chiaverini describes Roybal as “a complete goofball” who had “a little Chris Farley in him.”
Early Monday morning, he read a text message from his sister-in-law imploring him to call her.
“Immediately I knew something was wrong,” Chiaverini said. “I turned on the TV simultaneously while I was calling her, I started seeing all the numbers, all the footage. I was just praying it wasn’t going to be connected, for some reason I had an instinct that it was.”
Roybal served as an explosive dog handler in Afghanistan and enlisted in 2007. He left the service in 2012, according to Navy records, and was deployed in Afghanistan from July 31, 2011 to May 2012.
He moved to Colorado about seven months ago for his job with Crunch Fitness.
David Harman, the president and co-founder of Harman Fitness -- and managing partner of Crunch Franchises -- told 9NEWS that Roybal worked for the company for three years.
He moved to a Colorado Springs branch after working as an assistant manager in California. Harman says Roybal "progressed through the ranks really fast."
"When we opened up the Colorado market, he was the first one to raise his hand to come here," Harman said. "Based on the results we were getting in California, he was the perfect person to lead the charge."
Chiaverini says learning that Roybal was gone was “very surreal.”
“I woke up every hour on the hour last night thinking that I was dreaming this and hoping it was just a bad dream,” Chiaverini said. “But obviously it’s just reality. And you know, we keep seeing this on the news over and over again and you never think it’s going to be your family member, but here we are.”
Roybal moved to Denver because he had the chance to get promoted – and it’s something that he was proud of.
Chiaverini describes it as a new start.
“It’s just unfathomable that someone could steal his life like that,” Chiaverini said.