LAS VEGAS — Thousands gathered Thursday night for a vigil to honor Charleston Hartfield, an off-duty Las Vegas police officer who was killed when a gunman fired into the crowd of the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
Hartfield was one of 58 people killed in the Sunday night massacre on the Las Vegas strip.
A sea of candles lit up the Police Memorial Park, a northwest Las Vegas park dedicated to fallen officers as the community remembered Hartfield. The 34-year-old was a police officer, an accomplished Nevada Army National Guard sergeant first class and a youth football coach.
“[Charlie] loved his country and his city. He is the most patriotic person I’ve ever met,” an officer who worked with Hartfield said.
But he was most proud of being a husband and the father of two children.
“He loved his wife and children, so, so much,” one of his colleagues recalled.
His wife, his sister and two children, a boy and a girl, sat in the front of the crowd as Hartfield’s colleagues described his spirit, dedication to community policing and his expert knowledge.
“He led his life with honor, dignity and a great capacity for others,” a detective who had worked with him for years said.
“He would always serve as a shining example to all of us about what is just and right, and how we live our lives,” another of his colleagues said.
Hartfield wrote a memoir titled “Memoirs of a Public Servant,” which documented the “thoughts, feelings, and interactions of one Police Officer in the busiest and brightest city in the world, Las Vegas.”
“Charlie was a hero,” an officer told the crowd.
Law enforcement and military officers from across the state came to pay their respects to Hartfield.
Sean Scott, a state parole and probation officer said that although he never met the slain officer, he needed to attend the vigil.
“It brought us together like never before. We’ve come together and showed that we are not going to be stopped by a tragedy,” Scott said about the shooting.
“People think that the city is sin city, but there’s so much light,” a woman attending the vigil said. “There’s darkness, but this has brought the city together like never before.”
Hartfield — “Charlie” or “Coach Chucky,” as some called him — was also a coach for the Henderson Cowboys youth football program, the group said on Facebook.
Stan King, the father of one of the players on the team, said he was “an absolute all-American kind of guy.”
“He is one of the nicest guys I know and helped countless youth become winners through NYS football here in Henderson, Nevada,” King said. “This kind of guy comes around once in a blue moon. He was a very special guy to the community.