During a community-wide vigil Tuesday night, more than 100 people carried glow sticks, wore Los Angeles County Fire Department T-shirts or spoke fondly of the firefighter killed during a shooting Tuesday morning at his workplace, Fire Station 81.
Throughout the night, both those who had the microphone in their hand and those who came to stand and listen emphasized that the event was organized and designed for a community that considers itself tight-knit.
“We just recently had fires and they protected our community,” said Ashley Arndt, who said she had brought her three children along with her to the vigil. “It is really important to show our kids how to bring the community together in a time of grief.”
Speakers came to the front of the crowd, and gave speeches on the firefighter — whose name has not yet been released by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office and was withheld from speeches out of respect for his family — calling him a devoted father, mentor and firefighter.
His coworkers and fellow community members who knew him said that the firefighter, who was described by L.A. County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby on Tuesday as 44-year-old firefighter specialist who was with the department for approximately 20 years, was one of a kind, and would never be heard raising his voice to someone.
As the speeches went on, some cried while others held one another closely, but all attentively listened to the anecdotes and kind words about their fellow community member and protector. The Acton Park event had a special meaning to some as the park has come to symbolize a central hub for the local residents over the years, a place that has hosted Fourth of July celebrations, school events, and kids’ sports.
“There’s just camaraderie here,” said Alana Altmayer, an Acton resident who helped organize the event. “It’s just a tight-knit family and when something happens, you know that you’re not alone.”
Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District campuses temporarily locked down on Tuesday as a result of the shooting, and parents such as Arndt and her fellow parents at the vigil felt it important for their children to understand why.
Toward the end of the event, a singer came forward to sing “Amazing Grace.” After getting feedback from the microphone, she decided to sing the song without it. She was accompanied by all those in attendance. At the end, a chorus of applause rang out, as one.