Las Vegas Sun

September 25, 2018

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‘He’s watching over us’: Slain staffer’s legacy motivates security company

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L.E. Baskow

Angelica Cervantes with Miguel Cervantes offers reflections about her son Erick Silva, a Contemporary Services Corporation employee who lost his life while helping others at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.

Erick Silva CSC Ceremony

Angelica Cervantes with Miguel Cervantes receives a painting of her son Erick Silva fromBill Minson as Contemporary Services Corporation hosts a ceremony for the employee who lost his life while helping others at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.   The painting is by artist Renee McDonnell. Launch slideshow »

A framed photo of Erick Silva greets visitors at a private security training facility not far from where he was killed in the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Dressed in his bright yellow Contemporary Services Corp. shirt, Silva has his head raised in the photo, looking solemnly over the camera and into the distance.

“He’s watching over us and looking out for us, just like he always has,” said Jay Purves, Silva’s former boss at CSC, before a weekly training session for new employees.

A few steps into the building, which is named for Silva, and there are more reminders of the Oct. 1 shooting at a concert on the Las Vegas Strip.

There’s a medallion recognizing Silva’s sacrifice and a pair of scissors emblazoned with the Vegas Strong logo used at the ribbon cutting for the facility. Framed letters from dozens of elementary school children thank Silva for his heroism.

Silva, who was working security at the concert, was shot twice while helping people climb over a barricade to safety. A gunman opened fire from a Strip hotel tower across the street into the concert crowd, leaving 58 people dead and more than 800 injured.

A graduate of Las Vegas High School, Silva, 21, worked long days providing security for major events such as festivals, concerts and auto races. He was the primary breadwinner for his family, including his mother, stepfather and younger brother. And after three years with the company, Silva was promoted to a management position less than a week before he was killed.

He was known within the company for his uncanny ability to spot fence-jumpers and people with fake wristbands trying to sneak into events, Purves said. He’d keep the phony wristbands in his pocket and show them off to his coworkers.

“Erick embodied the honor and integrity we stand for from the day he started working here till the end,” Purves said.

Silva’s humorous, friendly, laid-back personality — along with his routine of bringing pizza, tacos and doughnuts to the office for his coworkers, — will be missed, his colleagues said. But his legacy and the story of his heroism lives on.

“Erick was the type of person that always wanted to help people, even till his last breath,” CSC manager James Garrett said. “That’s the biggest legacy for me, to sacrifice himself, his family and everything to help complete strangers.”

Garrett incorporates Silva’s story into his training classes at the Erick Silva Training Center, 105 E. Reno Ave, to remind new employees that the job, while often fun, can be dangerous. The training center is less than two football fields from where the shooting took place.

During the class’ active-shooter training segment, Garrett reminds future CSC staffers that they, like Silva, may end up in a situation where they are “the first of first responders.”

“It’s not just about standing at a gate, standing at a spot or standing inside the barricades. Anything can happen at any given time, and our team has to be ready for that,” Garrett said.

Erick Silva Funeral Service

CSC office manager Gina Argento hugs mom Angelica Cervantes at the Davis Funeral Home during a service and burial for Las Vegan Erick Silva, 21, killed in the October 1st mass shooting while working his security job near the stage at Route 91 Harvest festival Thursday, October 12, 2017. Launch slideshow »

Nick Giaquinto, 32, hadn’t heard of Silva before his introductory training class, but by the time the three-hour session was over, Giaquinto called his example inspiring. “It’s apparent he had a big heart and enjoyed helping people and that people had great respect for him,” he said.

Fellow trainee Richard Howard, 30, who had met Silva through a mutual friend, called him a “great guy and passionate person” who cared deeply about his friends and family. Silva’s “truly heroic” actions were not surprising for those who knew him, he said.

Garrett, who since Oct. 1 has worn a photo of Silva on his CSC identification tag, said recounting the events of that night “doesn’t get any easier.” But honoring him is something Garrett “loves to do.”

Purves said it’s important because “new employees need to know about the family member we lost that night. He’s part of the CSC family forever.”