Aurora community mourns lost lives with multiple vigils

AURORA, Ill (KWQC) - There was a somberness in Aurora on Sunday, with families and community members embracing each other after the loss of five people.

Thousands mourn loved ones at vigils on Sunday

On Friday, Gary Martin shot 6 police officers and killed 5 employees after his termination meeting.

The day started with a Prayer Vigil, with nearly 2 thousand people in attendance. It was hosted by city officials, the Aurora Prayer Coalition, area churches and Crosses for Losses.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irving said, "I just want to let the family know, let the city know, let the community know, we feel for them with all our hearts that we will pray for them and continue to pray everyday and help them with the healing process. Now is the time to heal, move together as a stronger community because we recognize we're in this together"

"It goes a long way to go through the coping process and events like today help people to make meaning out of the trauma that they’ve come to and hold onto the hope and faith" explained Jamie Aten, Founder and Executive Director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College.

But, many were still surprised that this could happen so close to home.

"I initially was shocked, saddened, and that turned quickly into anger. I’m really very confused as to why we can’t sit, talk, compromise and quit killing each other" said Aurora Resident Greg Ellsbee.

The support didn't stop there; Crosses for Losses held a cross procession later in the day. Community members volunteered to carry 5 crosses, one for each of the injured officers for the 4.5 miles to the Aurora Police Department.

Casildo Cuevas, an Aurora Resident who helped plan the procession said, "they went from point A to B and they risked their lives. The least we can do is honor them and do this and honor everybody, not just Aurora Police Department but all the other agencies that helped"

There was a 6 yard-long flag donated where the community can stop at the Police Department and sign it. 1 yard will be donated to each officer's family, and the last yard will stay at the office as a remembrance of the day.

At the second vigil, speakers included a Pratt employee, a mother of an NIU student who died at the shooting 11 years ago, and a survivor from the same shooting.

The community asks for prayers and support, and they'll have more vigils throughout the week.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help raise funds for the families of those who lost their lives: Russell Beyer, Vicente Juarez, Clayton Parks, Josh Pinkard and Trevor Wehner.
Link: https://www.gofundme.com/AuroraStrong