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Crowds Gather at Pier for Candlelight Vigil

Oct 04, 2017 08:25PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Remembering the victims of Sunday's deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas, which included two Manhattan Beach employees, an estimated 1,000 people gathered at the Manhattan Beach Pier on Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil.

"Seeing this strong presence here makes us feel we are truly part of a community," said Mayor David Lesser, who served as a moderator for the brief program.

Speakers gave thoughtful remembrances of Rachael Parker, a Manhattan Beach Police Department records technician; and Sandy Casey, a Manhattan Beach MIddle School special education teacher - who both lost their lives in Sunday's shooting.

Manhattan Beach Police Chief Eve Irvine said that Parker, "the person you saw when you first came in," to the police department,"had such a soft spot for all people." Parker had recently completed her bachelor's degree in social work, and participated in weekly luncheons with older adults. She had also recently adopted a second dog, along with another dog and a cat.

Perhaps most poignantly, Irvine noted that October 1, the date of the shooting, was also the date of Parker's ten-year anniversary with the department. Parker was set to be recognized next week for her ten years of service.

"She was loved by so many," said Irvine. "We will never forget your daughter's bright and shining star," she added, addressing Parker's family.

Manhattan Beach Unified School District Superintendent Mike Matthews spoke on behalf of Casey's school colleagues, who remembered her as "the person who everyone wanted to be around." Always laughing and having fun, she was "a relentless advocate for her students and colleagues."

Another colleague wrote of Casey, "Her door was like her heart - always open for anyone who needed advice or a good laugh."

Casey's students wrote that they would always remember her "horrible" handwriting, her "corny" jokes, her enthusiastic energy, and her love of the L.A. Kings and yoga. "We will miss her every day."

Monsignor John Barry of American Martyrs Church said of Parker and Casey, "They worked in the service of teaching and protecting us - helping the most vulnerable and valuable in our city." He shared a small prayer that the tragic event would "give us a deeper conviction that love conquers hatred."

"We have two new stars in Heaven tonight," he added.

The event, organized by local activist group South Bay Cares, drew both young and old. The event concluded with the singing of "God Bless America" as crowd members raised votive candles in unison.

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