LANCASTER — Hundreds of flickering candles pierced the darkness in Lancaster Thursday evening at a ceremony to honor Officer Craig Shaw, who was killed in the line of duty last Sunday.
Officer Shaw's wife and children made their first public appearance since the tragedy, sitting in the front row and flanked by his mourning colleagues.
Lancaster could never have imagined a night like this.
"Don't be sad. Be thankful for the time that you had with Craig," said Lancaster police Chief Keith Humphrey. "Just know that he's in a better place."
About 250 fellow officers and community members gathered in front of Lancaster's public safety building to remember the city's first police officer killed in the line of duty.
"Being a massive mountain of a man, he had the gentleness of a lamb; he had the heart of a saint; and the courage, as proven last Sunday," said SWAT team colleague Lt. Garland Wolfe.
Shaw, 37, was shot and killed while responding to a shooting in progress call at a nearby apartment complex last Sunday. He was a five-year veteran of the department and had been a neighbor of Mary Reynoso for the past 12 years.
"His family is taking it very, very hard," she said. "I spoke with Tiwanda last night, and she's taking it very hard."
Officer Shaw's family decided not to speak at the vigil Thursday evening, but fellow officers did. They shared stories about their 6'-4", 250 lb. co-worker, revealing nicknames like "Shock and Shaw" and "Big Daddy."
The patrolman is said to have always prayed with his colleagues before SWAT missions.
On Thursday night, police officers representing Lancaster, Midlothian, Rockwall and DeSoto all said a prayer for Shaw, along with scores of community members.
Many more are expected to attend the funeral for the fallen officer in Dallas on Saturday morning.