BOULDER, Colo. - A candlelight vigil for a bull elk that was shot and killed by a police officer on Mapleton Hill in Boulder drew about 180 people Sunday night.
The vigil, which began at 5:30 p.m. Sunday on Mountain View Road, was to "celebrate the life" of the elk. The crowd held signs demanding justice, sang songs and held candles.
Many of those who gathered knew the elk as a regular visitor to their neighborhood and had named him "Boy Boy" or "Elmo" or "Rufus."
"I really liked the elk in our neighborhood, and I'm going to miss him a lot, and I just wanted to come here," said Tyg Gugenheim.
"Tonight we're here to honor the elk and it was a magnificent creature, who blessed our neighborhoods," said Marcus O'Bryon.
The elk had been spotted for several weeks on Mapleton Hill between 9th and 11th streets, and residents of the area gave conflicting reports as to whether it had behaved aggressively toward humans.
A Facebook page called "Justice for Big Boy" was put up Saturday.
Two Boulder police officers have been placed on paid administrative leave while the investigation into the Jan. 1 shooting is conducted. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is also investigating the incident to see if a crime has been committed and took possession of the elk.
The officer who shot the elk, Sam Carter, admitted to killing the animal with one shot from his shotgun, saying that it was injured and needed to be humanely put down, Boulder police said.
However, Carter never notified his supervisor that he had discharged his firearm and never notified Boulder police dispatch about his intentions to shoot the animal, Boulder police said.
After the animal died, Carter posed with it for pictures, and then called his friend, off-duty police officer Brent Curnow, to come and get the carcass so it can be processed for meat.