Special Reports

Vigil to honor officers draws crowd to Lakewood

People congregated Thursday at Lakewood City Hall for a live broadcast of a candlelight vigil held in Washington, D.C., to honor the nation’s fallen law enforcement officers.

The crowd of about 100, including several Lakewood police officers, milled in front of three large screens on the plaza outside the hall at 6000 Main St. S.W.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer Nathan Muckley showed up in uniform.

“Washington, D.C., was a little too far away,” joked the Lakewood resident, who works at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. At a South Sound Jaycees table, Muckley wrote a message of encouragement on a long sheet of butcher paper: “Thank you for serving and keeping our communities safe.” The paper will be framed and given to the Lakewood Police Department.

As the event began at 5 p.m., the atmosphere was casual, relaxed – almost like a cocktail party, with lit candles in lieu of champagne flutes. But as the names of the 324 law enforcement officers being added to the memorial were read out on the telecast, the mood became somber.

“I didn’t realize how many officers died,” Claudia Aufang of Olympia said. The former Lakewood resident – she moved in 2001 – came to the Lakewood vigil after dropping off her 20-year-old daughter Rachel at Pierce College.

“She wants to be a police officer,” Aufang said, wiping away tears. Even the slayings of four Lakewood police officers, a Seattle police officer and a Pierce County sheriff’s deputy didn’t deter Aufang’s youngest child.

“She’s built like her father,” Aufang said. “She can take care of herself.”

Joyce Chen: 253-697-8426 joyce.chen@thenewstribune.com

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