After several days of shock and grief, residents of Lakewood and surrounding communities stood together in the freezing night air Wednesday to light candles and pray for the four police officers slain Sunday and for their surviving family members.
LAKEWOOD, Pierce County — After several days of shock and grief, residents of Lakewood and surrounding communities stood together in the freezing night air Wednesday to light candles and pray for the four police officers slain Sunday and for their surviving family members.
About 2,100 people gathered outside the Lakewood YMCA, just a block away from the police station, as community and religious leaders gave thanks for the officers’ service and the community’s outpouring of support.
Lew Cox, a chaplain for the Des Moines Police Department, told the gathering that the Boston Police Department is sending 100 officers to the public memorial Tuesday at the Tacoma Dome.
The New York City Police Department is sending another 100, he said.
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“This event in Lakewood has touched the whole country,” Cox said.
Eric Boles, a pastor of Life Center, one of the vigil organizers, said the community lost four incredible people.
“We don’t understand. We do not understand,” he said.
But out of the tragedy, Boles said, the community has come together in memory of the slain police, Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39; and officers Ronald Owens, 37; Tina Griswold, 40; and Gregory Richards, 42.
“We ask for their children and children’s children to know how honored their parents and grandparents were,” Boles said.
Charlie Davis, president of the Lakewood YMCA, described just one way police officers contribute to the community. He said city police regularly volunteer at Friday youth nights, and it is taken for granted that they will show up when needed.
He bowed his head in prayer. “We need your powerful hug around these families and your powerful hand on these communities,” he said.
In a procession led by bagpipes and Lakewood Mayor Doug Richardson, people cupped lighted candles as they moved down Lakewood Drive toward the police station.
Courtney McConnell, an airline flight attendant from Puyallup, said she felt compelled to attend the prayer vigil.
“I can’t put my arms around all the families. I can’t put my arms around every single police officer. But I can let them know we’re behind them and thinking about them,” she said.
Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or firstname.lastname@example.org