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Minnesotan dead in Vegas shooting; survivors recall horror

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An ambulance leaves the intersection of Las Vegas Blvd. and Tropicana Ave.
An ambulance leaves the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue after Sunday's shooting.
Ethan Miller | Getty Images file

Updated: 6 p.m. | Posted: 3:47 p.m.

Steve Berger, a father of three and award-winning financial consultant from Shorewood, Minn., is dead following the Sunday night shootings at a concert in Las Vegas.

Berger was in Las Vegas to celebrate his 44th birthday, which was Saturday. He worked for EFS Advisors, a financial services firm based in Cambridge, Minn.

Steve Berger
Steve Berger
EFS Advisors via KARE 11

Fifty-nine people were killed in the violence and more than 520 were hurt. From 32nd-story perch in a hotel room nearby, the gunman shot at people attending the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas last weekend. 

Berger was a "hard working son-of-a-gun," always at the top of his field, his father Dick Berger said. Steve Berger grew up in Wisconsin and attended Wauwatosa High School, where he was an all-star basketball player, his father said. That led him to be recruited by St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., from which he graduated in 1995.

Steve Berger was in Las Vegas with his longtime friend and St. Olaf roommate Josh Decker. 

During the shootings Sunday, Berger fell and became separated from Decker, according to Berger's parents, and Decker couldn't return to help his friend amid the ensuing chaos.

For many of the 22,000 people at the Jason Aldean concert Sunday night, it wasn't immediately clear what was happening when the bullets began flying. It sounded like fireworks that just wouldn't let up. 

"We realized at that point that something else was going on and we took off running," recalled Taylor Dumbrovski, a nurse from St. Cloud, Minn., who was in the crowd. 

She and thousands of other ran for their lives from what would become the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history. Dumbrovski said she and her companions ran about 4 miles in 30 minutes.

Steve Berger was among those lost in the horrific scramble. His parents, Dick and Mary Berger, said they got a call at 4 a.m. Monday from Decker saying Steve had been shot. 

But the Bergers couldn't track down their son for over 24 hours. "We don't know if he's dead or alive," Dick Berger said Tuesday morning. "We don't know where he is."

Steve's death wasn't confirmed until Tuesday afternoon. 

At least one other Minnesotan, Philip Aurich, was hospitalized with critical injuries, according to Concordia Academy-Roseville, from which he graduated in 1999.

MPR News' Tim Nelson reported this story, and Cody Nelson wrote it.