Community Gathers at Candlelight Vigil for Slain Officer
West Bloomfield Police Officer Patrick O'Rourke died in the line of duty Sunday night.
Religious leaders from diverse backgrounds around West Bloomfield offered prayer and thanks to a crowd of approximately 1,500 a candlelight vigil Tuesday night in honor of slain Officer Patrick O'Rourke.
The 39-year-old Fenton resident was a husband and father of four whose family were in attendance to hear from religious leaders of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths at the event organized by township officials and the West Bloomfield Clergy Association.
O'Rourke was killed Sunday night in the line of duty by a man barricaded in his home at the North Woods Forest subdivision near the intersection of Halsted and Pontiac Trail. The gunman, Ricky Nelson Coley, was found dead Monday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a lengthy standoff with police.
"I don’t mean to be flippant, but if you could clone someone and make more police officers, you would clone Pat O'Rourke," Police Chief Michael Patton said after the service. "He’s just that epitome of that big, rugged guy you would want as a police officer. Rarely, if ever a complaint ... it's a tremendous loss for all of us."
Officers representing municipalities from as far as away as Detroit, Eastpointe and Ann Arbor came to show their support, along with officers from several surrounding areas. Patton added that in such a time of grief for officers, it was important to let someone else take the lead.
"It was a moment for them to minister to all of us and to give us some comfort and some support for what we’re all going through right now," Patton said.
O'Rourke's widow, Amy, and their three young daughters — Eileen, Mary and Andrea — and infant son Stephen attended the service, along with several other members of O'Rourke’s family.
In response to a Civic Center Drive which was packed with cars and news trucks, grievers parked at nearby subdivisions and schools, walking as far away as a quarter of a mile to attend the service.
Once there, they made donations to a trust fund established by township officials in support of O'Rourke's family, clutched candles, and spoke along with religious leaders.
"Hope is arising around each one of us, for it is the hope that comes in knowing that no matter what ... nothing will stop goodness from coming into our hearts," said Fr. Ron Jozwiak of Prince of Peace Catholic Church. "Nothing will stop us from loving one another. And everything we will do in our power now is to have faith in humankind. To restore our community to grace. To take care of one another."
Rabbi Norman Roman of Temple Kol Ami spoke in support of O'Rourke's 12 years of service in West Bloomfield. "Dear God, we thank you for the lives that were issued from him and the deeds that he performed to benefit protect all of us in this community," he said.
Victor Begg of the Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills said that while O'Rourke had passed, he had left behind a lot for which to be grateful.
"He was a gentle soul. ... What's left behind? His memories. His words. His deeds."