- Associated Press - Monday, June 5, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - Officer Michael Sierra never knew Kevin Ambrose but he said it was an honor to stand at attention for a silent vigil that marked the 5th anniversary of the officer’s death.

“At the Academy they did tell us about Kevin Ambrose. It was one of those feelings you never wanted to have,” said Sierra who joined the force in 2014. “He was one of our own.”

Sunday, the Springfield Police Department quietly marked the fifth anniversary of the murder of Ambrose by holding a 24-hour vigil in front of the station. Two officers stood silently and at attention while a police car marked with his badge number was stationed out front with its blue lights activated. A black and purple bunting was placed over the door to the station.

The vigil was organized after family members said they would prefer no formal event be held to commemorate his life and sacrifice.

At 1:06 p.m., the time the 36-year veteran was killed, all officers were asked to pause for a moment of silence. “Officer Kevin Ambrose rest in peace my brother, rest in peace,” was announced over the scanner.

Ambrose was shot to death on the afternoon of June 4, 2012 when a domestic call at 90 Lawton St. in Sixteen Acres turned violent. He was credited with sacrificing his life to save Charlene Mitchell and her year-old daughter.

Mitchell was critically injured but survived. The shooter, her estranged boyfriend, Shawn Bryan, a New York City Department of Corrections security officer from Hempsted, New York, committed suicide.

Ambrose was the first in-the-line-of-death for the department since the 1985 deaths of officers Allain Beauregard and Michael Schiavina, who were gunned down during a traffic stop on Stebbins Avenue.

People were encouraged to stop at the memorial to fallen officers in front of the police station to pay their respects to Ambrose. A few left flowers in his memory.

“It is so nice for the Police Department to do this,” said Dottie Bennett Maiwald, a family friend, who stopped at the department to pay her respects.

She grew up in Springfield and started school with Ambrose’s sister. She was so close to the family she attends family holiday parties.

Kevin was such a character,” she said. “We miss him at every family gathering.”

He loved to joke around but also would tell people what he thought. Family and friends were shocked when he was killed since he had been an officer for so long and was close to retirement, Maiwald said.

“You think of Kevin and you just smile…he was always smiling,” she said.

More than 40 officers volunteered to take a turn to stand vigil from 8 a.m. on Sunday through 8 a.m. on Monday. They stood at attention even when it started raining Sunday evening.

Police commissioner John Barbieri was one of the many who volunteered at the silent vigil.

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stopped at the vigil Sunday morning. He said he stopped and said a prayer for Ambrose as well as for Beauregard and Schiavina.

“I wanted to pay my respects,” he said. “It is a nice gesture of respect.”

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Online: https://bit.ly/2sJsaCl

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Information from: The Springfield (Mass.) Republican, https://www.masslive.com/news/

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