Definition of a hero’: Slain security staffer remembered as humble, loving

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L.E. Baskow

Pastor Denis Barrera comforts Angelica Cervantes during a service Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017, at the Davis Funeral Home and burial for her son Erick Silva, 21, who was killed in the Oct. 1 mass shooting while working his security job at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.

Thu, Oct 12, 2017 (7 p.m.)

When the parents of Erick Silva enter his small bedroom in their east valley home or open the closet where his clothes still hang, they’ll always remember his loving personality, his trademark smirk and unwavering devotion to his family.

On top of that, they’ll be reminded of a young man who was humble, caring and real, who died doing what he loved to do — helping others.

“He gave everything for his friends and family, and his example was inspirational,” said Angelica Cervantes, sobbing as she stood in front of her son’s gravesite while the final patches of grass were patted down by crews Thursday at Davis Funeral Home. “He was a very beautiful person, inside and out.”

Silva, just 21, was one of 58 people killed in the mass shooting on Oct. 1, six of whom were from the Las Vegas Valley. Before he was buried as part of a nearly three-hour service Thursday, his body lay in an open casket at the front of the altar for a packed house of nearly 200 people.

Nearly 100 attendees in the capacity crowd inside the small chapel donned the yellow uniforms of Contemporary Services Corp. Silva had worked for the Las Vegas security company since 2014, staffing major events like Electric Daisy Carnival, Life is Beautiful and NASCAR before losing his life on duty during the Route 91 Harvest Festival. The week before he was killed, Silva had been offered a promotion to transition into management, his supervisor said.

“He was always breath of fresh air coming through that door,” said CSC office manager Gina Argento with tears streaming down her face as she spoke to the crowd. “From open to close at the office, from start to finish at the events, we counted on him, and he never let us down.”

Remembered as a “family man who honored his mother,” Silva helped support Cervantes, his stepfather Gregorio de la Rosa and younger brother Arturo, 11, with his CSC salary. He became known within the company for his “notorious” ability to spot fence-jumpers and those with faux wristbands trying to enter venues, like the Las Vegas Speedway during EDC, without buying the proper credentials.

For such festivals, he’d keep the fake wristbands in his pocket to show them to fellow security staff after the event, Argento said.

While Erick could have been “anything he wanted to be,” according to family and friends, he aspired to join the Metro Police department as a patrol officer.

On the night he was slain, Silva’s heroic actions modeled what would be expected in his dream job. Stationed in front of the Route 91 Harvest stage throughout the festival, he helped pull festivalgoers over a stageside barricade to seek shelter when bullets started raining down from the Mandalay Bay, potentially saving lives.

“We started a company on honor and integrity, and Erick embodied that till the very end,” said Jay Purves, CSC’s vice president of Nevada operations, who was stationed on the other side of the stage during the festival. “As sad as this day is, it’s a celebration of who he is and what he did. He was the definition of a hero — he was a leader and he stepped out and made a difference that day.”

Purves, who operates the Las Vegas branch of CSC on East Reno Avenue, next to the Las Vegas Village festival grounds, said the company will name its training center after Silva in his honor.

Friends and family in attendance came from as far as California, Reno and Mexico to bid their final farewell to the Las Vegas hero, while presiding Pastor Denis Barrera of Iglesia Cristiana Jehova Nissi pledged Silva’s legacy will “forever live in the history of Las Vegas.” While most of the conversation on Silva was somber and serious, some of his closest friends offered the lengths to which Silva liked to both joke and help people.

Tylaicha Price met Silva seven years ago when the two were between middle school in high school, and said they had been best friends ever since. Earlier this year, in an attempt to “keep everyone safe,” Price, 21, and Silva used a stash of police lights and sirens they had purchased online to “pull over” a wrong-way driver on Boulder Highway, she said.

After noticing the driver was “very drunk,” Silva and Price, dressed in street clothes, escorted the woman to the backseat of Silva’s sedan and drove her back to her east valley residence, Price said.

“Erick just wanted to make sure people were safe,” Price said, laughing. “That goes for anytime he saw that someone was in distress. We were naïve and having fun, but his heart was always in the right place.”

She added that Silva often served homeless people with meals before going home from work, adding that he didn’t mind buying a “real meal,” if someone was hungry. He often brought pizza and doughnuts into the CSC office, his colleagues said, and was “always there” to comfort or raise money online for those who lost a loved one.

Purves has assumed that role for Silva’s family. A GoFundMe account in Silva’s name established by his CSC boss aims to raise $50,000 for his funeral and burial expenses. It can be found here.

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