TACOMA, Wash. -- Hundreds of people attended the first of two vigils honoring a Washington state police officer who was slain on duty.
People gathered Thursday at officer Reginald "Jake" Gutierrez's home police station in Tacoma, lighting candles, singing songs and sharing memories.
Another vigil was planned Thursday night at an elementary school in Tacoma.
“You kind of just drive by and don’t really think how hard their job is every day,” said Stephen Houlihan, leaving flowers at Tacoma Police Headquarters. “It’s incredibly hard especially when you have losses like this,” he said.
Houlihan brought his two sons to the memorial so they could see firsthand the sacrifice of Officer Gutierrez and what it means to the community. “It’s very important for them to understand and see that police are here to help us and not be afraid of them,” said Houlihan.
“I had to come out here today and bring something, do something for the officers,” said Scott Britz, a Tacoma resident of 12 years. He said he lost his father to a heart attack. Knowing the pain, he brought a teddy bear for the Gutierrez daughters as comfort. “I just wanted to pay my respects to the officer and his family and the rest of the boys out here.”
Judy Herrera said as a wife and mother, news of Gutierrez’ death touched her deeply. “When I found out it really broke my heart,” she said. “I am praying for them. They have a lot support.”
Gutierrez was shot to death Wednesday after a woman approached animal control officers and said her husband had locked her out of their house and taken her phone. Authorities say Gutierrez and his partner went into the home, and Gutierrez was shot as he headed up the stairs to speak with the suspect, Bruce R. Johnson II.
Police Chief Donald Ramsdell told reporters Thursday the 45-year-old Gutierrez had been with the department since 1999 and had extensive experience dealing with domestic cases.
She brought an orchid to the growing memorial. She said it symbolizes peace and love, something she hopes the entire community will feel in the wake of Gutierrez’ death.
Two memorial funds have been created for fallen Tacoma Police Officer Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez.
The Tacoma Police Officers Union and Tacoma-Pierce County Crime Stoppers created one fund. According to their website, 100% of all funds donated in memory of Officer Gutierrez will go directly to his family.
Donations can be made to the 'Officer Jake Gutierrez Memorial Fund' via PayPal or by visiting any Wells Fargo Bank location. To pay via PayPal, click here then click the orange donation button at the top of the page.
If you wish to donate to the Memorial Service, you can make checks out to the Tacoma Police Department. You can either drop them off at any police station, or you can mail them to the Tacoma Police Department at 3701 South Pine St, Tacoma WA 98409.