(Tupelo, MS) Hundreds lit candles for fallen and injured Tupelo police officers on Christmas night.
A candlelight vigil was held at Field Park in front of city hall.
“I can’t imagine. I really can’t,” said a person at the ceremony.
Sgt. Gale Stauffer was shot and killed while responding to a bank robbery on Monday. His two children woke up on Christmas without their father.
“I just can’t think of Christmas without their daddy. That’s what’s so heartbreaking. Of course, his wife woke up a widow,” said Police Chief Bart Aguirre.
Aguirre said Officer Joseph Maher was also shot in the head during the robbery.
Maher’s wife and 15-month-old child spent the holiday in the hospital at his side.
Aguirre said Maher is making a slow recovery.
“We lost an officer and another one is critically ill. They have not caught the person who did it. It’s a big deal,” said Rina Vasquez, who went to the service to pay respect.
While hundreds of fellow officers, friends, family, and community members could have been home this holiday, they chose to support and stand by those suffering.
“He was the light to the city, because he sacrificed his life for us. The guy who is in the hospital, that’s tragic too,” said firefighter Derinda Reid.
The funeral service for Sgt. Stauffer is set for Friday at 11 a.m. at First United Methodist in Tupelo.