BOULDER, Colo. – A candlelight vigil took place Sunday night for the elk that was killed by two Boulder police officers on Mapleton Hill.
"It's a celebration of the elk," said Jim Reimersma, who organized the vigil. Close to 100 people attended the vigil.
"We loved him but I think he loved us too because he returned to this neighborhood three winters in a row," Reimersma said.
Community members celebrated the life of the bull elk at 5:30 p.m. on Mountain View Road.
The two police officers who killed the elk in a west Boulder neighborhood late Tuesday night have been suspended. Police dispatch was not notified before or after the shooting.
Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner said a supervisor should have been called. Boulder Police and Colorado Parks & Wildlife are now investigating the incident.
"I think the officer who shot him should be fired, I really do," said Miriam Paisner, a Boulder resident who attended the vigil. "Just the death of any animal, wild animal, in the city of Boulder is first of all against the law. But I''m an animal rights activist so it really touched me in my heart, I mean I had to cry."
An officer was on patrol near Mapleton Avenue and Ninth Street and shot the elk because it thought it had been injured. An off-duty officer helped him carry it away and process the elk for meat.
Residents were angry when they heard about the elk’s death — who they have nicknamed “Big Boy,” "Elmo" and "George."
According to the paper, the elk had been spotted for several weeks on Mapleton Hill, and many people living in the neighborhood said the elk had not behaved aggressively toward humans. Some even considered the elk their “guardian,” the paper stated.
The vigil was open to the public.
"It's to honor him," said one resident. "I feel like I lost a best friend."
A number of residents hope to discuss the shooting with Chief Beckner on Monday afternoon.