Kern County is mourning the loss of Jack Beaton, a local who was killed while shielding his wife in the Las Vegas shootings.
Beaton was part of a group of couples who did everything together. The group of friends went to the Route 91 country music concert for the second time in a row this year. Jack Beaton and his wife, Laurie, were also celebrating 23 years of marriage.
Scot Watkins is part of that best friend group. He and Beaton met more than 14 years ago and have been inseparable since. Watkins says when the group realized what was happening, they crouched on the ground with the men covering their wives. Jack and Laurie exchanged "I love you's," the last words they would say to each other. At some point, they're not sure when, they realized Beaton had been shot. Beaton wasn't responding, and at this point the gunman was still rapidly firing, so they knew their only choice was to run. Watkins says it was a hard decision but they knew they had to save their own lives.
"I said Jack I'll come back for you, I gotta get Laurie out of here," says Watkins.
The group figured out that the gunman was firing rounds then would pause to reload, so they listened. Watkins says when they heard the shots, they instantly ducked and got low. He says they would watch people run, get hit and fall to the ground, so they knew to only run during the breaks.
Watkins says after the gunshots stopped, they went back to where Beaton had been shot. His body was gone, so they were optimistic someone had seen him and taken him to a hospital.
Then, the waiting game began. It was their worst 13 hours.
They moved around to different locations, from the police station to the convention center, listening to names read of who had been checked into hospitals.
It wasn't until the following afternoon when they got the call from the coroners officer that Beaton hadn't made it.
Now, days later, the friends reflect.
Watkins says now, he would want to tell his friend how much he loves him, but luckily, he frequently does. In fact, Saturday night, a day before the shooting, Watkins felt the urge to say just that.
"I just looked over at him and I just wanna tell you how much I love you and that I'm happy that you're in my life," said Watkins to Beaton the night before the shooting.
Beaton will be remembered as a man who made everyone laugh, who loved his white Vans and who was always willing to bring a cold one to share with his friends.
There will be a service for Jack Beaton Saturday, October 7 at 10 a.m. at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church.
There is also a memorial fund set up for him, which can be found here.