Among the crowd Friday night was Clark County’s Jarrett Byrd who said he attended the vigil primarily to show support and solidarity in grieving the loss of a 21-year-old American.
“There’s a lawlessness in our law enforcement,” he said.
“I wish Mr. Peterson didn’t have to die for (a Black Lives Matter gathering) to happen here. We should protest and voice our dissent, just like they’ve been doing in Portland,” said Byrd, a Black man.
Clark County Councilor Temple Lentz, who attended the vigil, expressed her condolences for the family on Twitter.
“Candles raised as people repeat his name. ‘Amazing Grace’ through speakers. Condolences to those he left. Please everyone stay safe and don’t engage the antagonists across the street,” she tweeted.
As of 8:30 p.m., organizers had just begun addressing the crowd.
Several speakers said they’re tired of having to chant more and more Black people’s names. They said they are tired of a lack of justice and transparency from law enforcement, and said there is a need for community togetherness.
Organizers said the family had expressed a desire to keep the vigil peaceful. However, some skirmishes between those in attendance and counterprotesters broke out during and after the vigil.
After speakers finished up, some people began milling about on Highway 99. People and cars blocked the road at the intersection with Northeast 68th Street, and just north of the vigil, cars lined the highway. But the crowd largely dispersed.
There did not appear to be any police presence at the vigil.
Sheriff Chuck Atkins said at a press conference Friday afternoon that the incident began as detectives were conducting a narcotics investigation in the area. A foot pursuit ensued where deputies were chasing a man with a firearm, Atkins said. The man reportedly fired his weapon at the deputies, who returned fire, he said.
However, additional information released an hour before Peterson’s vigil, did not say if the man fired a weapon. Investigators said a Glock model 23, 40 caliber pistol was found near Peterson.