By Ethan Genter Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.
WEST YARMOUTH, Mass. — Hundreds of people crowded into the Yarmouth Police Department parking lot Saturday at a candlelight vigil to pay their respects to the family, friends and fellow officers of Sean Gannon, a Yarmouth police K-9 Officer who was gunned down in the line of duty on Thursday.
Gannon’s cruiser sat in the front of the department, showered in hundreds of flowers from mourners grieving the loss of the 32-year-old officer who died after he was shot while serving a warrant at a home in Marstons Mills.
Before the vigil started, Nicole Monteiro, a lifelong Yarmouth resident, and her son Mayson placed a flower next to the cruiser.
OFFICER REMEMBERED: Hundreds attend vigil in honor of Officer Sean Gannon at @yarmouthpolice dept. last night. @EricHalperinTV was there and has a report next on @wpri12 pic.twitter.com/SX3vg1hMVq
— Julianne Lima (@JulianneLimaTV) April 15, 2018
“I wanted him to see how our community comes together in a tragedy like this,” she said, pointing to Mayson. “It really hits home when it’s one of our own.”
The ceremony got underway a little after 7 p.m. at the 9/11 Memorial at the department. Friends and colleagues described Gannon as friendly, outgoing, and the type of officer who would go out of his way to help others.
State Rep. Timothy Whelan, a former state trooper, presided over the vigil and told the Gannon family and colleagues that he and the crowd had come to let them know that they were not alone.
“We will always be with you,” he said.
U.S. Rep. William Keating asked for everyone to be more like Gannon.
Thousands gather in vigil for @yarmouthpolice Officer Sean Gannon. Our hearts are broken, yet we stand shoulder to shoulder with our grieving officers, the Gannon family, and our community. pic.twitter.com/wWVSRbx1Lq
— Julian Cyr (@JulianCyr) April 15, 2018
“In an era when people are looking for what’s in it for them … Sean was a giver,” he said. “Sean is someone you should aspire to be. … We’re challenged to follow Sean’s example and be a giver.”
Matthew Spadafora, 29, of Hyannis, said he knew of such instances of Gannon’s kindness.
Before the ceremony, police officers from across the region could be seen embracing their colleagues in Yarmouth and expressing their condolences. Officers both in and out of uniform flanked the memorial to show their support during the vigil.
Yarmouth Police Chief Frank Frederickson described his pain.
“I can tell you the hurt is within me,” he said. “I’m the chief right now but I’m crushed inside. But we’re going to move forward.”
Frederickson said he was trying to find an answer to why this tragedy happened. How could Gannon, a rising star in the department, have his life cut so short?
Hundreds gathered for tonight’s vigil to remember @yarmouthpolice Officer Sean Gannon. @wpri12 pic.twitter.com/FCnBBsizpT
— Eric Halperin- WPRI (@EricHalperinTV) April 14, 2018
“When I personally am hurting I have to find a way to resolve the hurt so I can carry on my duties to lead this family through this tragedy our officers who are shattered, a community that is also shattered,” he said. “So I vow to be there for all of you and ask you to actively participate in that.”
Gannon was the type of man who made the people around him better, Frederickson said, and his sacrifice saved lives at the expense of his own.
“That disgusting person was going to hurt or kill somebody else and Sean stopped that from happening,” he said. “I can guarantee you Sean saved someone’s life.”
Earlier in the day in South Yarmouth, more than 100 volunteers, most with blue ribbons pinned to their shirts to honor Gannon, picked up trash along roads and at beaches and conservation areas for the third annual Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce “Community Cleanup Day.”
“I knew of him,” South Yarmouth resident Don Costa said of Gannon. “I used to see him at different events.” He said he planned to attend Saturday night’s vigil.
“I’m wearing it for the police officer who was tragically killed a couple of days ago,” said West Yarmouth resident Betsy Schlesinger, who was getting ready to collect trash near the Bass River with South Yarmouth resident Judy Daddana, who also wore a ribbon.
Sights and sounds of emotional vigil for fallen #Yarmouth officer Sean Gannon. Hundreds of people. Story tonight on #WBZ news. pic.twitter.com/Q1Tq9j2MqL
— Jim Smith (@JimSmith_WBZ) April 15, 2018
At another event on Saturday in South Yarmouth planned prior to Gannon’s death, and sponsored by the Howard Lodge, anyone who wanted could meet the region’s first responders and climb aboard to inspect ambulances, firetrucks, tow trucks and police cars. Only a handful of uniformed police officers were there, but the many children and parents made up for that in numbers.
“There’s an immense sense of sorrow in the Cape Cod community right now, after this tragic murder of Office Gannon,” said retired Boston police Officer James Kelley, who organized the lodge’s first First Responder Appreciation Weekend. A pancake breakfast is planned today with the proceeds going to the Gannon memorial fund sponsored by the nonprofit Yarmouth Police Foundation.
“Although we certainly didn’t plan it, we are actually glad that we have a place today where the community can come together,” Kelley said.
©2018 Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.