A candlelight vigil was held to remember the life of a bull elk that was shot and killed by an on-duty Boulder police officer who has since been placed on administrative leave.
Police say an on-duty officer killed the animal late Tuesday, and an off-duty officer took the elk home to be processed for meat. The officer who shot the elk allegedly said it was limping and appeared as if it needed to be put down, though a resident has said it wasn't limping a few hours before it died.
Colorado wildlife officials are investigating whether any crimes occurred.
The several hundred people who turned out to honor the animal on Sunday lit candles, sang and told stories.
The large animal with antlers was wandering the Colorado neighborhood when it was fatally shot by a Boulder police officer, who has been placed on leave. An off-duty officer suspected of helping by loading the carcass into a truck is also on leave.
The Boulder Daily Camera reported that Vigil organizer Jim Riemersma wanted to give people an opportunity to grieve, celebrate and find closure.
“I know a lot of us have had a lot of anger, a lot of questions, a lot of uncertainty,” he said. “Tonight's a celebration, a celebration of the elk. We loved him. But I think he loved us, too, because he returned to this neighborhood.”
Still, emotions ran hot, with multiple calls to “fire the cops” and “jail the poachers.” A meeting between Boulder Chief Mark Beckner and residents concerned about the shooting is planned for Monday.
“People live here because we love the wildlife,” said Esther Parson, who lives in the foothills west of Boulder. “To murder an animal who feels like he's part of the neighborhood is despicable.”
The vigil included a mix of people from the neighborhood and animal lovers from the surrounding area. Meghan Stephens, of Louisville, said she came with her husband and 14-month-old daughter to lend support to her sister, who lives in the neighborhood.
“It was a beautiful, beautiful elk,” she said.