BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – A vigil was held in Boulder Sunday evening for an elk that was shot by a police officer last week.
About 75 people attended the vigil on Mountain View Road, near where the incident occurred. People lit candles, sang songs including “Amazing Grace” and “We Shall Overcome.”
Many also spoke at length about the animal who was frequently seen in the area and had been given many nicknames, including Big Boy, George and Elmo.
“We loved him, but I think he loved us, too, because he returned here to this neighborhood three years in a row,” said resident Jim Riermersma during the vigil.
Two Boulder police officers — Sam Carter and Brent Curnow — have been placed on administrative leave with pay while the department investigates their involvement in the incident.
Several neighbors told CBS4 Sunday they feel there was no reason to kill the animal, and they think anti-poaching laws should be applied in the case.
One person at the vigil called the elk a wonderful visitor to the neighborhood and said he truly loved the elk.
“I cried; outraged; I lost a very dear friend,” resident Marcus O’Bryon said. “I know that’s hard for some people to believe, but he was an incredible, magnificent creature.”
When asked how he would respond to people who think a vigil for an elk is silly, O’Bryon said, “Well, they don’t have to be here, do they?”
Carter killed the elk on Tuesday near the intersection of 9th and Mapleton, something Boulder’s police chief Mark Beckner said was against “protocol.”
He said the incident wasn’t reported by either officer until residents began to ask questions about the killing. He said Carter, who was on duty and on patrol in the area at the time, reported that he felt the animal needed to be “humanely euthanized” because it was injured.
After Carter shot and killed it with a single shot, he called Curnow. After Carter posed for a photo with the elk, Curnow “took the elk in his own vehicle to process the meat for personal use,” Beckner wrote in a letter to residents on Friday about the matter.
Beckner was set to meet with residents on Monday afternoon about the shooting.