After learning the city had lost an officer in the line of duty, a group of Tecumseh residents organized an event to draw the community together in a celebration of life and candlelight vigil Thursday evening to honor Tecumseh Police Officer Justin Terney, who died in the line of duty this week.

TECUMSEH — After learning the city had lost an officer in the line of duty, a group of Tecumseh residents organized an event to draw the community together in a celebration of life and candlelight vigil Thursday evening to honor Tecumseh Police Officer Justin Terney, who died in the line of duty this week.

The gathering was organized in an effort to help the community navigate through the tragedy. It was held in front of the Tecumseh Police Department, where dinner was provided for the agencies and their families.

The event also served to honor local law enforcement and emergency responders, and their families, by showing support and appreciation for all they do, Don Henson said.

A woman who attended the vigil said she and her friend knew Terney after coming out of a domestic violence shelter.

“He was just a good guy,” she said. “He was very helpful and paid attention; I've never met anybody quite like him.”

She recalls Terney being funny.

“He was something else,” she said, “funny as could be.”

He was amazing, she said. He would stop by and check on the women and make sure they were all right, she said.

Since the incident, locals have leapt into action to console family members and coworkers, raise funds and show their support during such a tragic and very heartrending time.

Tecumseh's Assistant Police Chief, J.R. Kidney, extended gratitude to the crowd of behalf of Terney's family and his law enforcement family, adding that he's visited with countless law enforcement officers who have supported them this week as he addressed today's scheduled funeral services.

“Tomorrow is going to be the toughest day in the Tecumseh Police Department's history for the officers we have and the chief that we have” Kidney said. “I'm asking for prayers for the Tecumseh Police Department and the Terney family to get us through this difficult day We appreciate the outpouring of support from Monday to today. You guys are awesome. We love you.”

Terney was originally from Canadian, Oklahoma.

A funeral service for Terney will be held at 2 p.m. today at the Canadian High School Gymnasium with Mike Massey officiating.

The incident

Early Monday Terney, 22, lost his life after a routine traffic stop the night before quickly turned into a life-or-death struggle. The stopped vehicle's passenger, who repeatedly gave a false name, attempted to flee after Terney tried to confirm the man's identity.

It turns out the suspect — now known to be Byron James Shepard, 35 — had felony warrants in a stolen property case in Okfuskee County, according to court documents.

Even though he had been shot two times by the suspect, Terney returned fire and struck Shepard, who was shot three times; Shepard remains hospitalized at OU Medical Center and was upgraded to serious condition Wednesday afternoon. And while he's expected to be in the hospital for a while and needs additional surgery, once released, he'll be jailed on a first-degree murder charge and held until trial. Formal charges were filed on Wednesday.

Online condolences for Terney's family may be made at www.hbmfuneralhome.com.

View a photo gallery and watch videos of the vigil online at news-star.com.

You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.