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His dad was killed in Vegas. Now he wants to freeze the gunman's assets.

By Donovan Harrell

dharrell@mcclatchydc.com

October 07, 2017 02:37 PM

UPDATED October 09, 2017 05:48 AM

The family of one of the victims killed in the Las Vegas shooting has filed a lawsuit to freeze the shooter's assets —preventing the shooter’s rightful heirs from obtaining the money.

John Phippen was among the 58 people killed and more than 500 injured in Las Vegas Sunday at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival. He was fatally shot in the back trying to shield a young woman from gunfire, according to ABC 6.

Phippen’s family filed the suit to freeze the killer’s estate, NBC 4 reported. The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, reportedly committed suicide before authorities could apprehend him. The shooter fired from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel onto the concert crowd below.

The shooter was reportedly a successful gambler, winning at least $5 million in 2015, according to NBC News. The shooter’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, and the shooter’s brother, Eric Paddock, are the rightful heirs.

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"This is an action for the benefit of all the victims to preserve these assets," the Phippens' attorney, Richard Patterson, told NBC 4.

According to FOX 5, Patterson also wants to allow other families to join the lawsuit.

"(The gunman) should be held responsible even after he's gone and committed suicide," Patterson said. "Whether he has a million dollars, five million, or ten million dollars, it's a pittance compared to the damages these people incurred."

Travis Phippen, a 24-year-old paramedic, was with his father when John Phippen was killed at the music festival. Travis himself suffered a gunshot to one of his arms, according to FOX 5.

"We were just having a good time. We were dancing and singing songs and just having fun, and (my dad) showed no fear at all," Travis told Fox 5, fighting tears. "Him and I, we both helped these girls that were in front of us and we covered them up and I started helping other people that were getting shot and he stayed with me. He wasn't afraid. He was there with me. He didn't want to leave me... I knew that he'd be with me no matter what. That's just the kind of guy he was."

"(My dad) taught us everything about being strong, whether it was physically, mentally, or emotionally," Nathan Phippen, Travis’s brother, told FOX 5. "We lost somebody that we love and a big part of our family, and now we're just trying to pick up the pieces."

Patterson also told FOX 5 that the festival should have had more exits and the hotel should also have more intensely vetted the gunman. He also plans to file a suit against Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and its parent company, MGM Resorts International.

"We hope that this doesn't happen again," Nathan, told NBC4 News outside of the courthouse. "This is a terrible loss for not only our family, (but) the community and the world because we lost an amazing person."

Witness describes horror of Las Vegas shooting

Fresno, Calif. resident Crystal Alaniz left to use the restroom during the Route 91 Harvest Festival when the shooting broke out. "I kept praying and I kept hoping that I was going to get out of there alive," she said.

Craig Kohlruss The Fresno Bee