Bailey residents gather to remember fallen deputy as devoted mentor, community member

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BAILEY, Colo. -- The small mountain town of Bailey continues to recover from a loss of one of the community’s biggest protectors.

On Wednesday, a homeowner shot three Park County deputies, killing one, when they tried evicting him from his home.

On Sunday, residents were tying blue ribbons and posting blue flags throughout the town, while others turned to prayer to heal the hurt.

They turned to their church, to their faith, to a higher power, for understanding the incomprehensible.

"You know these guys. You know they cared about the community. And they just wanted to do their job," said Bailey resident David Stark, who attended Sunday services at Platte Canyon Community Church.

Their jobs as deputies ended with Bailey resident Martin Wirth shooting Master Patrol Deputy Colby Martin, Capt. Mark Hancock and killing Cpl. Nate Carrigan.

"It hurts and yet, I know Nate died doing something that was good, standing up for something that was right," said Stark, whose brother is a Colorado State Patrol trooper.

Carrigan attended Platte Canyon Community Church as a boy, then coached baseball and football at Platte Canyon High School.

"I had a great relationship, friendship with him through all these years and I really appreciate he devoted his life, not just to law enforcement, but poured himself into the lives of young people at the high school," said Jay Vonesh, who has been the youth pastor at the church for 21 years.

The violence evokes memories of a shooting at the high school in 2006, when a man shot and killed 16-year-old student Emily Keyes.

"We have healed from things like this and we'll heal again," said Pastor Larry Kalb, who has helmed the church for 32 years.

And while they heal, residents said it is their honor to grieve with those who have lost so much.

"I appreciate Nate's family and how kind and gracious they've been to all of us wanting to grieve with them,” Vonesh said. "There's no greater commitment or love, than to lay down your life for your friends and for others.”

Carrigan's memorial service will be 11 a.m. on March 14 at Faith Bible Chapel (6210 Ward Road, Arvada). It is open to the public.

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