While celebrating her 34th birthday in Las Vegas Sunday, Melissa Castruita was forced to send her fiance the same terrifying two-word text message she had sent less than two years earlier.
“Active shooter,” she texted J.C. Monticone from the packed venue from which she, her aunt, and cousin had been watching country singer Jason Aldean when bullets began to rain down from a hotel room across the street.
As fate would have it, Castruita sent Monticone an identical message in December 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported.
She sent that message from the San Bernardino, California, office holiday party allegedly targeted by Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who died in a police shootout after killing 14 attendees and injuring 22 others in a mass shooting.
According to a New York Post report, after surviving that massacre, Castruita found some levity in declaring herself the safest person her friends could spend time with, arguing no one would be the victim of two mass shootings. While the odds might validate such a proclamation, it did not pan out for her.
From the still-active scene that left dozens dead and hundreds wounded Sunday night, she followed up with texts to Monticone revealing her desperation.
“I’m so scared!!!” she wrote. “Do you hear that?”
She updated him when the singer was escorted off the stage and when people in the audience started “running out.”
Monticone, a paramedic, read the messages while running from his room in the Luxor Hotel in an effort to protect Castruita. She reportedly urged him to remain in the safety of his room, but he was already on his way.
Before he got to the scene, however, he began encountering individuals wounded and disoriented from the attack. As he rendered first aid to those he could, he called his fiancee to assure her he was going to find her.
Along with her cousin, aunt, and numerous other survivors, the Times reported that Castruita escaped through a torn wall to a safer spot near the Tropicana. Shortly after she got there, Monticone called and told her he was still safe.
He reportedly cut the call short to help another victim. A short time later, however, the two finally met for an emotional reunion that, despite the odds, was all too familiar for them.
[Featured image: Facebook/JC Monticone]