FALLON — More than 100 people attended an interfaith vigil Tuesday at the Laura Mills Park gazebo in near 100-degree temperatures to remember Fallon resident Charles E. “Bert” Miller and bring comfort to the community.
A Monday night vigil was also conducted at the gazebo and brought together many first responders and firefighters from Churchill County and Naval Air Station Fallon. The 61-year-old Miller, who spent 35 years as a fireman, was fatally shot Sunday in the chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on West Richards Street. His brother Duane, 64, who was visiting from Utah, suffered a leg wound but was treated at Banner Churchill Community Hospital and released the same day.
Pastor Dawn Blundell of Epworth United Methodist Church, who organized Tuesday’s vigil with area pastors, said two groups had planned remembrances and needed to notify the community in a short time. Although she arrived in Fallon about one year ago, Blundell said Fallon’s strong community pride is comforting.
“It means so much to me,” she said after the afternoon vigil. “I’ve seen nothing like it. I lived in small towns and before I lived in medium-sized towns. They are good people everywhere, but this is really unique how people rally around each other at a moment’s notice.”
Loni Faught, a member of the LDS church’s Third Ward, thanked people for attending the vigil and reaching out to the church and its members; furthermore, she thanked Blundell for coordinating the prayer vigil.
“They (the Miller family) greatly appreciate the love and support that you have extended their direction and they can feel that, the church can feel that during these difficult times,” Faught said. “It’s so beautiful to see a community come together with the different faiths coming together. People from all walks of life have come together to provide strength and comfort to each other. So although it’s tragic, it’s beautiful to see a community of different faiths, families, friends all come together.”
Brendan Behimer, associate pastor at Parkside Christian Fellowship, said it’s a painful, sad and difficult time.
“I’m at a loss for words,” he said before reading two Bible passages that dealt with comfort from true pain.
Mayor Ken Tedford, who spoke at the first vigil, led the group in prayer on Tuesday and offered words of encouragement for the fire department.
“The fire department is a very special part of our community,” Tedford said. “They are a grieving fire department, and we want to pay homage to them.”
Tedford asked the mourners to think of the families who are involved with the tragedy, the first responders, the ambulance crew from Banner Churchill who responded to the scene and the church community.
“We’re all hurting,” he added.
Sheriff Ben Trotter represented his department at the vigil. He said the community is amazing when tragedy strikes as he looked back to a big rig running into an Amtrak passenger train in June 2011, last year’s flood mitigation throughout the county and people helping others during a rash of home fires in 2013.
“This is just another example of how our community comes together,” he said of the most recent event.
Retired Councilman John Tewell, who moved to Fallon from Elko 30 years ago when his company transferred him, said Fallon is a wonderful town.