West Cobb neighborhood holds memorial walk for fallen deputies

·3 min read

Sep. 16—WEST COBB — A week after two Cobb sheriff's deputies were killed while serving a warrant in the Hampton Glen subdivision, residents of the neighborhood paid tribute to the deputies in a memorial walk and vigil.

A crowd of more than 200 gathered at the neighborhood's clubhouse around 6:15 p.m. Thursday before departing on a mile-long walk around the neighborhood, followed by a moment of silence outside the house where deputies Jonathan Koleski and Marshall Ervin Jr. were shot to death.

The shooting rattled the quiet, suburban neighborhood, which residents described as the last neighborhood one would expect such a thing to occur.

"As everything unfolded last week, it was very emotional and traumatic for people in different ways," said Loren Roberts, a co-organizer of the event.

Cara Southerland, another organizer, said she wanted to do something to show her support for local law enforcement. She posted to the neighborhood's Facebook page about organizing a memorial, receiving an overwhelming response from the community.

"I wanted to be so much more supportive to these people who risk their lives every single day for us," she said.

Leading up to the vigil, Southerland enlisted the help of four other moms in the neighborhood, including Roberts, and came up with a three-phased approach.

"We talked through what an organized effort would look like, especially for people in the neighborhood to get behind," Roberts said.

The first phase involved ordering blue ribbons and bows to tie on mailboxes, trees and stop signs to honor the deputies. These blue bows can be seen on nearly every markable location in the neighborhood.

The second phase saw the group gathering thank you cards, Gatorade, homemade cookies and other snacks, and delivering them to law enforcement agencies across the county.

Thursday night saw the third phase — with the tribute walk.

Upon arriving at the house where the shooting occurred, children released two balloons into the sky to honor the fallen deputies.

"It's been wonderful to see the good in people that you see after a tragedy like this," Roberts said. "There was the period right after where everybody felt a little bit shocked and a little bit hopeless, so seeing the community come together is great."

Residents and officers alike said they couldn't believe the amount of people that showed up. Parents pushed their toddlers in strollers and carried children on their backs, while other kids tossed footballs along the way.

"I've already gotten several calls and texts this morning from neighbors asking what the next plan will be," Southerland said. "Everyone is still ready to help as much as they can."

The evening concluded with a prayer, led by Cobb County Police Chaplain Todd Graham. Attendees gathered in a circle and held candles. Following a minute-long moment of reflection, Graham prompted everyone to tell the person next to them one thing they were grateful for.

"We overlook every day that the most powerful thing we can do for each other is to be neighbors who love well," Graham said.