As Police Officer David Mitchell fights for his life, more than 300 people gathered in Tracy Plaza Sunday night to show their support and offer prayers for the undercover policeman who was shot in the line of duty.
The candlelight service was organized by the Jamestown Police Department union and other groups. Officer John Ferrara, Kendall Club-Police Benevolent Association president, spoke on behalf of the rank-and-file.
"This is not easy, and I'll be the first to admit it," he said. "But the strength that I see here in the community is just -- like I said (earlier), you've gotta love it, this is Jamestown, and we're here for one another."
Mayor Richard Kimball said the service was another example of how Jamestown is a "loving and caring community." He added that the vigil was being held to bolster the Mitchell family.
"We also are reminded that the job that our police officers do in our community, and every community, is a very dangerous job," he said. "They need our constant support, and they get that support here in town. But in light of a tragedy like this, it brings to our attention that they're all members of our community, (and) are affected by what happened here."
Ferrara, who has been in contact with the Mitchell family, said that before Sunday night's vigil he had asked Mitchell's wife, Christine, if she wanted to send a message. He read it to those at the gathering:
"I would like to express my overwhelming gratitude to all the police agencies, to WCA (Hospital), the Erie County Medical Center staff, and Starflight Helicopter (crew). To everyone who has called, sent flowers, cards, donations, and their prayers. The outpour of sincerity has allowed me the courage to face each day with renewed hope. Please continue your prayers for David's recovery."
The Rev. Ralph Soderquist urged everyone to pray for a miracle for Mitchell, a 17-year veteran of the city police force who was assigned to the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force.
Mitchell, who was shot in the face last Wednesday, remained in critical condition Sunday in Erie County Medical Center's Intensive Care Unit.
Police Chief William MacLaughlin said of the investigation into the shooting on Wescott Street, "We're still plugging away."
The man accused of shooting Mitchell at near point-blank range, James Lewis, 18, of Allen Street, remains in guarded custody at the medical center. Allen was charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder, accused of shooting Mitchell and firing at his partner.
Allen was shot in the abdomen by Mitchell's partner, who has not been identified. Allen was arrested about five hours after the shooting in a nearby residence, where he reportedly had fled. The other officer wasn't injured.
The gunman was a contact for Mitchell and had arranged Wednesday night's meeting at which, police said, he intended to kill both officers.