‘IT’S HEART­BREAK­ING’

Hun­dreds at­tend can­dle­light vigil for Const. John David­son who died pro­tect­ing Ab­bots­ford

The Province - - FRONT PAGE - CH­ERYL CHAN chchan@post­media.com twit­ter.com/cherylchan

Hun­dreds at­tended a can­dle­light vigil in Ab­bots­ford on Mon­day to ex­press their sor­row and grat­i­tude for a po­lice of­fi­cer who died in the line of duty.

The vigil was held at the park­ing lot of the Mount Lehman Cen­tre — the same shop­ping plaza where Const. John David­son was shot and killed last Mon­day.

“It’s heart­break­ing,” said San­tosh Powar, a long­time Ab­bots­ford res­i­dent. “All you hear about is how he was such a good man. I’m sad about what hap­pened, and how he gave his life for the com­mu­nity.”

A large con­tin­gent of Ab­bots­ford po­lice of­fi­cers at­tended the vigil, or­ga­nized by Ab­bots­ford Com­mu­nity Ser­vices, in hon­our of their fallen com­rade.

Many in the solemn crowd who came to light can­dles, leave flow­ers and write notes of con­do­lence didn’t know him, but felt moved to come.

“It’s the least we can do,” said Mike Pat­ter­son, who lives in Van­cou­ver and made the drive to Ab­bots­ford with his fam­ily be­cause, “it’s im­por­tant to be here. This is a man who gave his life in the line of duty. The world is a lesser place with­out him.”

Chris­tine Hem­ing­way, a fam­ily friend of the David­sons, spoke to the crowd on be­half of his fam­ily, who didn’t at­tend the vigil. David­son was “such a great man, even when he wasn’t in uni­form,” said Hem­ing­way, who thanked the com­mu­nity for the out­pour­ing of love and sup­port.

“The pub­lic is un­be­liev­able, how they’ve come out to sup­port him and want to name a street af­ter him,” Hem­ing­way said. “The fam­ily is so ap­pre­cia­tive of what everybody is do­ing.”

David­son is sur­vived by his wife and three adult chil­dren.

A fundraiser set up by the Ab­bots­ford Po­lice Union for David­son’s fam­ily has raised more than $137,000 in five days, while a pe­ti­tion to change the name of Au­tomall Drive, lo­cated across the street from the Mount Lehman Cen­tre, to John David­son Way, has col­lected close to 15,000 sig­na­tures as of Mon­day.

David­son, who joined the Ab­bots­ford Po­lice Depart­ment in 2006 af­ter a 12-year ca­reer with the Northum­bria Po­lice in the U.K., was the first of­fi­cer on the scene last Mon­day re­spond­ing to a re­port of a stolen car and shots fired. He was shot and pro­nounced dead in hos­pi­tal.

Os­car Arf­mann, a 65-year-old Al­berta man, has been charged with first-de­gree mur­der.

A pub­lic cel­e­bra­tion of life will be held for David­son on Nov. 19 at the Ab­bots­ford Cen­tre. A funeral pro­ces­sion with uni­formed law-en­force­ment of­fi­cers will make its way from McCal­lum Road and McDougall Av­enue, about two kilo­me­tres away, to the arena. The cer­e­mony will start at 1 p.m.

The event will be broad­cast live on TV and live-streamed on­line. Over­flow crowds will be ac­com­mo­dated at the Univer­sity of the Fraser Val­ley’s En­vi­sion Ath­letic Cen­tre and Cen­tral Heights Church on 1661 McCal­lum Rd.

Bam Sidhu, man­ager of Sun Life, which oc­cu­pies sec­ond-floor of­fices at the strip mall, hopes the vigil shows David­son’s fam­ily and loved ones how much the com­mu­nity val­ued his sac­ri­fice. He at­tended the vigil, like many oth­ers, he said, “to show his fam­ily that he has not been for­got­ten, and to tell him, wher­ever he is, ‘thank you.’”

ARLEN REDEKOP/PNG

A vigil for fallen of­fi­cer John David­son was held at Mt. Lehman Cen­tre mall in Ab­bots­ford Mon­day. David­son was killed in the line of duty Nov. 6.

ARLEN REDEKOP/PNG

Hun­dreds of peo­ple at­tended a vigil for Const. John David­son at Mount Lehman Cen­tre mall in Ab­bots­ford Mon­day night.

— CP FILES

JOHN DAVID­SON

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