A community in shock came together for a somber vigil Monday evening.
A few dozen people came to lay flowers and light candles at the Abbotsford Police Department’s front door, paying respect to an officer who died in the line of duty earlier in the day.
A quiet, somber atmosphere hung in the air, as people took turns paying their respects.
One group arranged tea lights to spell out “RIP” and “APD” with a heart in between.
Abbotsford resident Himat Singh Dhaliwal said it took him several hours to absorb what had happened in his hometown.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I’m still shocked; it doesn’t make sense.”
When he heard the news, Dhaliwal phoned friends and family to check that they were safe.
Dhaliwal said he felt compelled to attend the vigil, after hearing about it on social media earlier in the day.
“I thought that it was very important for us to come together, to unite as a community in a very tragic time like this,” he said.
Dhaliwal said he works with the Abbotsford Police in organizing anti-gang events in west Abbotsford. The APD is an integral part of the community, he said.
“They’re out there fighting for us daily to make this community better, putting their lives on the lines, as you’ve seen what happened today.
“The worst [part] is that someone had the door open, waiting for someone to come home and that person is not coming home tonight – a father, a husband.
“It’s just sad,” Dhaliwal said. “There are no words.”
Another Abbotsford resident in attendance, Ward Baron, said he has caused local police “a lot of grief” over the years. The now-reformed man said he broke into tears almost immediately after hearing of the officer’s passing.
“They’re here to protect us, right? And he paid the ultimate price to try to keep our community safe.”