The father of one of the 59 people killed in the Las Vegas massacre called the suspected shooter "cowardly" and described his son as a "hero" in an emotional Facebook post.
"He stood the final test," James Melton wrote of his 29-year-old son, Sonny Melton. "He was just a good guy, doing what good guys do. He was a hero."
Sonny Melton, R.N., was killed when a gunman opened fire Sunday on the crowd at the Route 91 Harvey Music Festival from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. He died shielding his wife, Dr. Heather Melton, an orthopaedic surgeon, who survived.
James Melton described his son's heroic actions in the Facebook post, which was reprinted with permission by ABC affiliate WKRN-TV. James Melton could not be reached by ABC News.
"As Sonny and Heather ran away from the sniper, he always kept his own body between the danger and his wife. A running human shield," he wrote. "Heather says he had his hands on her shoulders and she felt him get hit and start to fall."
James Melton described other "angels" who helped his son and daughter-in-law in "that killing field that must have resembled the Marines landing on Omaha Beach." He wrote about two strangers who drove Sonny and Heather to a nearby hospital.
"One guy driving, the other helping Heather give CPR to Sonny. We don’t even know these guys names, they asked for no praise or reward," he wrote. "They just said they were sorry they couldn’t have gotten to Sonny quicker. They are heroes!"
The suspected shooter, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, had at least 23 handguns and rifles, some with scopes, in his hotel room, according to police. The shooting rampage also injured at least 530.
"My hatred of the shooter may diminish given enough time. But right now, that’s not an option," James Melton wrote. "As an ex cop, I share the frustration of the SWAT officer we heard about who was crying because the shooter killed himself before the cops could breach the door and take care of that ugly business themselves. Like I said, a coward."
He wrote of his own son, "And in this sea of carnage, Sonny was a hero right up until the bullets pierced his back and lungs and he couldn’t go on."
James Melton said he is finding joy in the heroes around him now, including airlines employees who helped him and his wife on their journey to Las Vegas after the attack.
"One flight attendant even took us by the hand to his personal car and drove us to find Heather in this strange city," he wrote. "I say this so that I don’t loose sight of the fact that there also good people everywhere."
Melton ended the letter with a prayer for his future.
"The grief has us now firmly in its relentless grip and this evil day has lasted way too long," he wrote. "Once again my prayer is to just be sleep stupid and have this sadness go away, even for just a few hours till I wake to my new, changed and darker world."
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