BOULDER, Colo. A neighborhood held a candlelight vigil on Sunday to mourn an elk that was shot and killed by a police officer.
About 75 people attended the ceremony, according to CBS station KCNC in Denver, Colo. They sang songs including "Amazing Grace" and "We Shall Overcome" in honor of the elk who had been nicknamed Big Boy, George and Elmo. The animal was considered my community members to be a "guardian" of the community and often frequented the area.
"I don't see a whole lot of difference between the shooting of this defenseless elk and the shooting of school children in Connecticut," one vigil attendee told KCNC.
The elk was shot by an on-duty Boulder police officer named Sam Carter, who then posed with the carcass after the animal had died, KCKC reported. Carter claimed that he "humanely euthanized" the elk because it had been limping. Another officer, Brent Curnow, is accused of helping load the elk onto a vehicle and then processing it for meat. The incident was not reported until residents began to ask what had happened. Many claim that the animal had seemed healthy before its demise.
The two men are on administrative leave with pay while the department investigation continues, and Boulder police chief Mark Beckner said the act was against "protocol," KCNC added.
Vigil organizer Jim Riemersma told the Daily Camera that he organized the ceremony to help give the community closure and some time to grieve and celebrate the life of the elk.
Many outraged people at the ceremony called for the firing of the police officers, and some felt they should be prosecuted under anti-poaching laws, several sources reported.
"People live here because we love the wildlife," Esther Parson told the Daily Camera. "To murder an animal who feels like he's part of the neighborhood is despicable."