Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 | 2 a.m.
The slain security guard’s family members, many wearing Mardi Gras beads and colorful hats, followed her silver casket outside an east valley church Saturday while dancing along to “As the Saints Go Marching in.”
Outside, in this “New Orleans-style” sendoff for LaTosha Juane White, they were met by as sizeable crowd that included her friends and security colleagues who were there to pay their final respects.
White, a veteran casino security officer, was one of two guards killed in a senseless act of gun violence after they responded to what should have been a “routine” call to a fourth-floor room of the Arizona Charlie’s Decatur a week before. She was 50.
The other guard was Phillip Albert Archuleta, 28. He left behind a wife and two children, 11 and 2, according to a news report from KLAS-TV Channel 8.
White was “fearless,” recounted Cristian Torres, one of several mourners who stepped up to a podium to eulogize the woman they said excelled in being kind and leadership.
“In my eyes, she was invincible,” Torres said.
White, a Chaparral High School graduate, was beloved by many, including hotel staff and guests, and was a mentor to those she trained and supervised, Torres said while pointing to the packed pews at Unity Baptist Church.
Working hotel security is not always pleasant, and it’s possible to “lose yourself” and lose patience, another guard said. But White, “taught me humility; she taught me patience, and she taught me — above all — compassion," he said.
“Sometimes we get lost with what are jobs are, and forget that we’re all human beings, but LaTosha always showed me that. She transcended gender, ethnicity; all of those things.”
“Security officers are the support of (Metro Police). They’re our eyes and ears, and when one passes, it hurts us, too. It hurts Metro, it hurts our community, because they’re the first responders for first responders,” eulogized a woman, who works with Metro, and whose friendship with White dates back to when they were teenagers.
White inspired her and cheered her on in her path with the police department, said the woman, who gave a nod to security guards in attendance, “She’s the sweetest person.”
A lifelong friend, who met White when they were 7, recalled how White was always a phone call away from helping a friend. Like the time the woman had lost a child a day after birth and White had rushed to the hospital.
“If there’s anything I could tell her,” another security guard said about White. “Is thank you, because no matter what, she was there for you. If you needed anything, she was there for you.”
A viewing preceded the services. Prior to the ceremony, those in attendance formed a line to approach the open casket. Wreaths lined up the stage, along with a large poster with photos of White in various stages of her life.
Tears flowed in front of White: a man kissed his hand and then touched the body. Three women walked together, crying and consoling each other after.
Several Metro officers were present and multiple people wore Arizona Charlie’s uniforms or badges.
The security director at the hotel presented White’s mother with a plaque that held the slain woman’s badge, and the corporate vice president of security operations for Golden Entertainment, Al Salinas, presented her an American flag.
White’s family moved to Las Vegas when she was a toddler. She graduated from Chaparral in 1985 where not only played saxophone in the marching band, but was also an athlete, winning the state title twice in shot put.
Her career as a security guard extended 22 years. White enjoyed skiing, snorkeling and loved bowling and softball. The kids in her family – who she cherished dearly – referred to her as “Todda.”
Her custom license plates, “TODDALATE,” were a reference to her affinity to being late.
Outside the church, first cousin, Aaron Arrington – sticking with the New Orleans theme – held a purple umbrella, which was bordered with green, yellow and pink sequin, and he spun in dance near the casket. Some cried, others embraced, and most held blue balloons that were released as the hearse made its way to White’s final resting place.