A prayer vigil at a Pensacola-area church Saturday started with a poignant sentiment.
“Today Pensacola hurts,” Pastor Ted Taylor said to those gathered at Olive Baptist Church in Warrington, which is located less than a mile from NAS Pensacola, where a gunman on Friday killed three people and wounded eight others before he was killed by deputies.
The vigil ended with another powerful display of unity as more than a dozen active duty military members and veterans locked arms and moved toward the front of the church.
“We thought it would be good just to gather together where we like to come and have a few folks share their hearts with us, read scripture and pray,” Taylor said. “And that’s what this is about.”
Close to 100 people attended the vigil at the church, whose congregation is comprised of about 60% military members, many of whom are or have been stationed at NAS Pensacola.
“This vigil means a lot,” said Caleb Fields, 23, of Richmond, Virginia.
An active member of the U.S. Air Force, Fields has trained to be a navigator for the past year at NAS Pensacola. He was not on base when the shooting occurred but said he had friends who witnessed the gunfire.
“I had friends who were in the room when it happened. Talking to them, it’s starting to get a little bit harder for me now,” he said. “It’s great to get all this love and support.
Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Chip Simmons spoke at the vigil and shared more details about the law enforcement officers who rushed to the base to respond to the shooting.
He said three law enforcement officers were injured in the shooting, and all of them were “going to be OK.”
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SOURCE: USA Today; Pensacola News Journal, Colin Warren-Hicks