'It's hard to take it all in': Community honors slain officer
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
HOLLADAY — As bagpipes played "Amazing Grace," hundreds lifted their candles into the air to honor a veteran officer killed while protecting the community he had served for many years.
A candlelight vigil was held Wednesday at Holladay City Hall, where a community came out in large numbers — possibly as many as 1,000 people — and braved chilling temperatures to honor a man tied so closely with his neighbors.
Unified police officer Doug Barney, an 18-year veteran and a cancer survivor, was working an overtime shift Sunday morning to help pay for medical expenses. Barney was shot and killed while checking on a man who left the scene of a traffic accident at 2160 E. 4500 South. His parter, Jon Richey, was also shot, with one bullet going through both his legs.
Richey arrived at the evening vigil walking on his own power. It was the first time he had been seen in public since the shooting.
The crowd gave him a standing ovation as he gingerly made his way up the stairs to the platform to sit beside the other guests of honor.
Richey later found the strength to stand at the podium. He said he didn't know Barney for a long time. But from the first call they responded to together, Richey knew Barney was a special officer, he said.
"I wanted to learn from him," said Richey, also a veteran officer. "Right off the bat, my impression was very positive."
Richey recalled watching in awe as Barney defused a volatile situation just by talking to the people involved.
"He knew people. He knew how to deal with people," he said. "I had one helluva partner to work with."
Richey said he also knew that Barney had his back, even if they hadn't known each other very long. Richey said he would have laid down his life for Barney, just as the fallen officer did for him.
While in the hospital this week, Richey said Erika Barney, Doug's widow, came to visit him.
"That meant so much to me," he said.
Erika Barney was also at Wednesday's vigil, along with her children and Doug Barney's mother and brothers.
Erika Barney said her husband was large, loud, vociferous, generous and passionate.
"He felt very strongly about being an officer," she said.
The shock of losing her husband hadn't fully settled in yet, Erika Barney said, as she hasn't had a chance to collect all her emotions.
"I'm not quite there yet. It's hard to take it all in. I haven't been left alone for a minute," she said.
Support from the community has been overwhelming, Erika Barney said, and the love from friends, family members and even strangers has been helpful.
"It just makes us feel lifted up and supported," she said.
Wednesday's vigil was hosted by Holladay in partnership with the Salt Lake Valley Law Enforcement Association. American flags lined 2300 East for several blocks leading up to Holladay City Hall, 4580 S. 2300 East.
Outside City Hall, a sign posted under the flags read, "We (heart) our police officers." Inside, a wreath was placed in the hallway of the main entrance. Behind the building, more American flags stood along the perimeter of the pavilion where the ceremony was held. Blue ribbons were tied to trees. To one side, a collage of pictures of Barney, both on duty, and at home with his wife, Erika, and their three teenage children.
Holladay Mayor Robert Dahle said his emotions "swing between profound sadness and extreme anger" by the events of the past week.
"We gather tonight as a community, shocked and scarred by the senseless murder of officer Douglas Barney. My hope is we can take this opportunity to be together as friends, neighbors and colleagues to begin a path toward healing," he said.
Dahle said he was sad for the Barney family, and "for our police families who once again face the stark reality that when they leave in the morning, they really don't know what their destiny is going to be that day."
But the mayor said he was also angry about how Cory Lee Henderson, 31, the man police say shot and killed Barney, "can be roaming our streets four weeks after walking away from a treatment facility and have access to a gun."
Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder had tears in his eyes as he walked to the podium before he even began talking.
"I feel like at times I'm all cried out. Then it comes back," he said.
Like the majority of residents, Winder said he has a hard time understanding what happened Sunday and why. But he said he'll probably never understand, and he encouraged others to look for love instead.
"We gotta quit looking for answers because there ain't none," he said. "Look instead for selflessness and love."
Barney's funeral will be held Monday at the Maverik Center in West Valley City.
Accounts to help the Barney and Richey families with funeral and medical expenses have been set up at America First Credit Union under the Doug Barney Memorial Account and the Jon Richey Charitable Account. Donations can also be made by calling the bank at 800-999-3961.
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