One of the Las Vegas showgirls stabbed in a brutal attack is no longer in critical condition as she recounts the moment her friend died in her arms.
Anna Westby, 26, suffered a punctured lung and was struggling to breath after being stabbed by Yoni Christian Barrios, 32, who killed two and left six injured in a brazen attack in broad daylight outside the Wynn hotel.
One of the victims was Maris Digiovanni, 30, Westby’s coworker at Best Showgirls in Vegas, who died in her arms after they were approached by Barrios, who told detectives he was an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala with a criminal record.
‘He pulled up a knife and he showed it to us as if modeling it,’ she told the New York Post. ‘Before we could say anything at all. He grabbed the knife and he stabbed Maris in the heart,’ she said.
The moment was so shocking to Westby that she didn’t even have time to worry about herself as she tried to apply pressure to Digiovanni’s wound.
‘And another guy said, ‘Ma’am, you have a stab wound on your back.’ I said, ‘I know.’ Can you grab your shirt and apply it to my back while I apply this to her?’
Anna Westby, 26, (above) recalled the moment her coworker at Best Showgirls in Vegas, Maris Mareen Digiovanni, 30, died in her arms during Thursday’s stabbing attack
Digiovanni was stabbed to death in the broad daylight attack which also claimed the life of Brent Allan Hallett, 47. Along with Westby, five others were injured
Westby, who suffered a punctured lung, was rushed away on a stretcher by members of Clark County Fire Department. She said she tried to tend to Digiovanni’s injuries while a stranger tended to the stab wound on her back
Yoni Christian Barrios, 32, who is charged with murdering two and attempting to kill six more on Thursday, told detectives that he is a Guatemalan immigrant and that he stabbed eight people so he could ‘let the anger out’
Barrios, who killed Digiovanni and Brent Allan Hallett, 47, told police he did so to ‘let the anger out.’
Fox News says Barrios was in the US illegally at the time, and that he had a criminal record in California for unknown offenses. He was not known to ICE prior to the stabbing, the outlet added.
Recalling the deadly encounter, Westby said she and Digiovanni were out on the strip with two other coworkers when Barrios approached them.
After stabbing Digiovanni in the heart, Westby said the man slashed a fellow showgirl, Victoria Caytano. Westby said she and Digiovanni tried to run, but to no avail.
‘Maris made it only about 15 feet before she collapsed,’ Westby told the Post. ‘And he came after me and stabbed me in the back, and he ran off.’
The showgirl’s boss, Cheryl Lowthrop, said her employee are still reeling over the incident as they mourned Digiovanni, who also worked as an elementary school teacher.
‘She was exceptional,’ Lowthorp told KLAS. ‘She was exceptional, she was on fire and beautiful and smart and radiant.’
As she faces a long recovery, Westby told the local outlet that the attack has left her afraid and questioning the world.
‘Knowing that someone could do something like this without ever being provoked,” Westby concluded. ‘It makes me question everything.’
Lowthorp has started a GoFundMe page to help her employees impacted by the tragedy and to cover funeral expenses and other costs for Digiovanni’s family.
Westby, who was stabbed in the back and suffered a punctured lung, held Maris in her arms as she died. The showgirl was also a local elementary school teacher
Friends and family members have paid tribute to the beloved woman – who was a Las Vegas resident and previously worked as a teacher in the city
A GoFundMe page for the showgirl victims has raised nearly $11,000 as of Saturday morning
Barrios, pictured Friday, was charged with two counts of murder with a deadly weapon and six counts of attempted murder. Police said the attack was unprovoked
A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department arrest report first obtained by Channel 8 News said Barrios came from California to Vegas two days earlier and planned to move in with a friend, but when he arrived the friend backed out.
Barrios told detectives he took a bus to the strip, where other passengers made fun of him and he ‘wasn’t treated like a human being.’
According to the report, Barrios asked a janitor at the Wynn Hotel and Casino about job opportunities, then asked the janitor to contact ICE for him so he could return home to Guatemala.
Barrios then asked a security guard at the hotel about selling his knives to pay for his trip home, officers wrote.
The guard told Barrios to ‘jump in front of a train.’
Barrios exited the hotel and it was then that he approached his first victims.
He is currently held in the Clark County Detention Center and charged with two counts of murder with a deadly weapon and six counts of attempted murder.
Video shown by officials at a press conference hours after the stabbing showed the suspect fleeing the scene
A victim is tended to by first responders in front of the casino where the stabbing took place
Dewaun Turner, 47, who witnessed five of the stabbings, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that he saw two showgirls running and screaming while being chased by the knifeman.
One was on the floor after being stabbed, and the other tried to run off. But the knifeman chased and stabbed her too.
Then, the man stabbed a man who was walking with a woman.
Turner then saw him stab two more women, with one of them seriously injured.
Tourists are among the victims, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo later told the media.
During that press conference Metropolitan Police Department Deputy Chief James LaRochelle said that the suspect started stabbing without provocation.
He said that authorities are in possession of video showing the suspect leaving the original scene and running down Las Vegas Boulevard heading towards Sands Boulevard.
Barrios was held by Sands security guards until the police arrived.
Maris and husband Cole Jordan, pictured on their wedding day
Maris (right) graduated with a degree in education from Washington State University, and had worked as a preschool-elementary teacher in both Bahrain and Hong Kong
The 30-year-old (pictured) had worked as a teacher at 9th Bridge School in Las Vegas
Maris (right) is pictured with her cousin, Ashlei who said she ‘brought a light to everyone’s life’
Digiovanni’s brother, Gage, wrote: ‘It is with great sadness that we say goodbye and see you later to my amazing little sister. Maris was a victim of the horrific random stabbing of eight people in Las Vegas today.
‘Please pray for our family and her husband. We appreciate the space to grieve in the coming days and know she touched your lives as she did ours.’
One of Maris’ friends took to social media to pay tribute to the ‘kindest soul.’
Emma Leeson wrote about her friend: ‘Absolutely shocked, devastated and heart broken.
‘The most kindest beautiful soul taken way to young, this is so unfair and should never of happened – I can’t wrap my head around any of it.
‘Thank you for all the incredibly fun amazing spontaneous memories and adventures we got to share together.’
Maris’s cousin also remembered the 30-year-old as someone who ‘brought a light to everyone’s life.’
Ashlei Digiovanni said: ‘I still can’t believe you’re actually gone. This world can be so evil. You brought a light to everyone’s life who crossed your path.
‘I’m so thankful for the moments I got to have with you. From sunset chasing, to dancing in your kitchen, to nights out to talking about absolutely anything under the sun.
‘You were one of the most open, lighthearted, and easy going people who wanted to make others’ days better. You were my cousin and my best friend. My heart is broken knowing I can’t snap or call you. I love you.’