Five years after 20 children and six educators were killed in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Utahns held a candlelight vigil in Salt Lake City to honor the victims and call for more action to end gun violence.
About 100 people gathered at All Saints Episcopal Church, 1710 Foothill Drive, as part of a nationwide vigil.
The service incorporated songs, scripture readings and periods of silent meditation. Participants also lit candles and offered prayers for healing.
The vigil was hosted by the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah. Other participating organizations included the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence; the Utah chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which is part of Everytown for Gun Safety; the Everytown Survivor Network; Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence; and Bulletproof Kids.
Everytown for Gun Safety said more than 200 events were scheduled across the country to honor the Sandy Hook victims.
On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza fatally shot his mother and then went to Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., where he killed the children and teachers with a military-style riffle. When police arrived, he used a handgun to commit suicide.
Among the victims was 6-year-old Emilie Parker, who lived in Utah until her parents moved back East. She loved to wear pink and to draw, turning her bedroom into a makeshift art studio. The little girl was laid to rest in Ogden next to her grandfather.
The Rev. Barbara Berry-Bailey, pastor at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Salt Lake City, said she attended the service because her father was fatally shot years ago in Detroit.
“This was especially important to be here,” Berry-Bailey said, “and join with other people who pray for an end to gun violence.”
Terri Gilfillan, of Moms Demand Action, said she lit a candle for the 26 people killed in the Sandy Hook shooting. She said 93 people a day, on average, die from being shot.
“Our main goal is to expand background checks for all gun sales,” Gilfillan said. “We have a public health crisis, and it needs to be addressed.”