Boulder Police Officer Sam Carter poses with the elk he shot with his service gun while on duty. (Credit: KCNC)
A candlelight vigil was held Sunday night honoring the lost life of a Boulder elk.
Residents have been outraged over the elk's death, which they claim was cruel and unnecessary. Boulder Police Officer Sam Carter shot the elk, which had been wandering the Mapleton Hill neighborhood over the past couple of weeks. Carter then posed for a picture with the dead elk, and gave the body to a second officer, Brent Curnow, who he had called to the scene. The Boulder Chief of Police said Curnow was going to take the body home to process the meat.
Carter said he shot the elk because it was injured and needed to be "humanely euthanized."
Several neighbors told sister station KCNC that there was no reason for the elk to have died.
“He was just a majestic being and it’s so sad that it came down to this, it’s heartbreaking,” neighbor Jennifer Centeno said. Postal carrier Mark Rourke seconded Centeno's sentiments.
"It makes me sick, it just makes me sick. It was a beautiful animal."
At the vigil, people gathered to light candles, sing and tell stories of the animal that some called a guardian to the neighborhood. Organizers said they wanted to give people an opportunity to grieve and find closure.
"I cried; outraged; I lost a very dear friend," resident Marcus O'Bryon told KCNC. "I know that's hard for some people to believe, but he was an incredible, magnificent creature."
O'Byron acknowledged that some might find a vigil for an animal silly, but said simply "They don't have be here, do they?"
Police Chief Mark Beckner has acknowledged the neighborhood's grief over the officers' actions, and issued a letter to the public Friday promising a full investigation. Officers Carter and Curnow are currently on leave without pay.