Ogden has been making great strides in getting the crime rate down and then this... We don't want what has happened to reflect on Ogden.
OGDEN — The mood was muted and solemn as several hundred members of the Ogden community came together to honor one killed and five wounded police officers at a candlelight vigil Thursday night.
"Everyone is devastated; everyone is absolutely devastated," said Carolyn Brierly, Ogden City special events coordinator, who helped organize the gathering at the city amphitheater.
People filled the amphitheater's seats and aisles, sitting and standing, holding candles that organizers were hurriedly removing from wrappers and sticking through stryofoam cups so as to catch dripping wax. Along with others, a young boy handed them out to the crowd.
They included around 100 members of the law enforcement community, who were asked to come and stand together on the stage, which was hung with six draped, lighted backdrops, that reflected the colors red and blue.
A woman called out quietly from the audience, "Thank you." Another chimed in: "Thank-you all." Then another: "God bless you all." And another. As officers from Ogden, the Weber County Sheriff's Office and others mounted the stage, a muted, rhythmic applause broke out.
A PowerPoint presentation that police officers had put together showed pictures of slain Ogden City Officer Jared Francom, along with those of his five wounded comrades.
The screen that showed Francom standing before an American flag had the words, "End of Tour of Duty ... 10-24 (the radio code meaning 'Assignment Completed') ... 1-5-2012." Another screen simply stated: "Heroes, Husbands, Brothers, Fathers, Friends, Sons."
Many in the crowd had such connections, either to the fallen officers or others. Many did not, but said they had come to pay their respects.
"I've lived here since I was seven and I'm just here to support my community," said Davina Venham. She came with her niece Brandi Farell, both of Ogden.
Tuesday night's events unfolded near Farell's home, she said. She watched the flashing lights and heard sirens wailing from throughout the city as patrol cars descended upon the scene of the shooting.
"We just couldn't believe it," Farell said. "It seemed like something out of a movie."
The multiple shooting came as a shock to many in a city that in recent years has begun to shed a rough reputation for frequent crime and prevalent drugs.
"Ogden has been making great strides in getting the crime rate down and then this...," Brierly said. "We don't want what has happened to reflect on Ogden," and bring back its former reputation.
As the event wound down, Brierly encouraged the assembled to remain as long as they wished. Many remained for a time, gathered in small groups of family and friends, still holding candles.
Lifelong resident Michelle Bernal, a mother of two, didn't know any of the officers.
"I just came to give support," she said. "It's just sad. I mean, it was uncalled for. (Officer Francom) didn't have to go that way. I'm just very sad."
Bernal came with Mark Lopez, who knew the slain officer. Lopez remembers often seeing Francom on duty at the 7-Eleven store on 24th and Monroe streets.
Once, Lopez's nephew was trying to buy some candy, but came up a dollar short. Francom gave the boy a dollar out of his own pocket, Lopez said.
"He was a really nice officer, really outgoing," he said. "He had a big heart." When they offered to pay him back, Francom refused: "No, I just do that."