SUNSET, LA (WAFB) - The Sunset community came together Wednesday to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in tragic series of events on August 26.
Hundreds gathered in a park on Marie Street in Sunset to share their memories of Shameka Johnson and Officer Henry Nelson. Community members, friends, and family described them as joyful and full of kindness.
"I have never, never seen him mad," said Norma Stelly, who said she had known Nelson for more than 17 years. She described him as always having a smile on his face.
Meanwhile, those close to Johnson described her as the family's hero.
Police say 40-year-old Johnson was stabbed while trying to save another woman on August 26. According to investigators, 35-year-old Harrison Riley Jr. first stabbed his wife, Courtney Jolivette-Riley, and then stabbed Johnson and her sister Surlay when they tried to intervene.
The two other women survived as well as another woman who received moderate injuries. Johnson did not.
Nelson, a member of the Sunset Police Department, was shot and killed while responding to the stabbing incidents. Nelson was scheduled to take a month's vacation, which he planned to spend with his teenage daughter, starting the next day.
The suspect in the shooting, Harrison Riley Jr., is a cousin to both Sgt. Nelson and Shameka Johnson.
Cheryl Monroe was one of the first to arrive at the vigil. In her hand, a sign calling Nelson "our hero."
"If you look good, you'll see teardrops. I cried as I was making it," she said.
Part way through the vigil, members of the Sunset Police Department saluted their fallen brother.
"No matter, which way I turned, to my left, to my right, to my back, if I was at a situation or a scene, he was always there and I'm never going to forget that," Assistant Chief Peter Guidry said.
In addition to the hundreds who came out Wednesday, Johnson's sister said their has been an outpouring of love the past week. She described how her driveway at home was never empty with a stream of visitors.
"It means so much, This is what's helping us get by," said Shaterral Johnson, interim mayor of Grand Coteau and the sister of Shameka,
After a series of songs, prayers and speeches, the community lit candles together.
Some speakers expressed frustration that it took a tragedy to bring everyone together, but said they must now focus on creating a peaceful, better future for Sunset.
"We can't change what happened, but as a community, we can change what's destined to happen," one speaker said.
Viewing for Sgt. Nelson will be held from 8 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, September 5 at Sunset Middle School with funeral services immediately following. Burial will be at Zion's Cemetery on S. Budd Street in Sunset.
An account has been set up for Sgt. Henry Nelson at the Bank of Sunset, 863 Napoleon Avenue in Sunset.
An organization called Louisiana Law Enforcement has organized a online t-shirt fundraiser for Sgt. Nelson's family.
Nearly $3,000 has been raised for his family. All funds raised will be paid directly to the family of Sgt. Henry Nelson. If you are interested in purchasing a t-shirt, click this link: http://www.booster.com/llesspdhn. The fundraiser will close on September 11, 2015.