Tara O’Sullivan was honored Wednesday night with a second candlelight vigil, where her mom spoke publicly for the first time since her death.
“We just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to love on us, too, and just know that our doors are open to those that need us,” Tara’s mom, Kelley O’Sullivan, told the 500-plus people who gathered at the Sacramento Police and Sheriff’s Memorial in the Woodlake section of Sacramento on the eve of her daughter’s memorial service.
The O’Sullivan family, their friends, law enforcement officers from the capital region among others filled the grassy area in front of the Woodlake Park stone memorial on the windy night to celebrate the 26-year-old’s life.
“In her short life, this is just a fraction of the people’s lives she’s touched,” Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn said, gesturing to the crowd of people wearing custom made shirts with O’Sullivan’s badge number and waving police flags.
Hahn also honored her family, saying that they spend “more time concerned about us than themselves.”
In addition to her large family presence, friends who hadn’t seen O’Sullivan in years and strangers touched by her death her also paid tribute.
O’Sullivan, a Sacramento Police officer, was killed in the line of duty June 19 while responding to a domestic violence call, The Sacramento Bee previously reported. Her memorial service begins at 10 a.m. Thursday in Roseville followed by a procession to Elk Grove that will bring her casket through the area of Sacramento she patrolled.
Tim Davis, president of Sacramento Police Officer’s Association, which hosted the event, opened by calling O’Sullivan “a hero.”
“She was an amazing woman, and her life was full of amazing accomplishments,” he said.
While vigil attendees waited for the sun to go down, they chatted amongst themselves, some sharing memories of O’Sullivan.
Nicole Machado, Danielle Lajoices and Tamara Tucker said they all worked together with O’Sullivan at the Chevy’s restaurant on Garden Highway about five years ago. The women say they lost touch with her once she moved on to her studies with the Law Enforcement Candidate Scholars’ program at Sacramento State, but they said they were still heartbroken to hear about her death.
“I was waiting for like 48 hours for it to be a mistake,” Machado said, recalling the events as they unfolded in north Sacramento a week ago.
Lajoices said it still doesn’t seem real.
But despite the tears, they smiled while recalling their friendship with O’Sullivan.
“I could be having the absolute worst day and she would (be like), ‘Hey, we’re going out. I don’t care if you’re mad right now. You’ll be happy later. So it’s fine.’ And she was always right,” Machado said.
The trio said they planned to attend O’Sullivan’s memorial service.
The service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Bayside Chruch Adventure Campus, located at 6401 Stanford Ranch Road in Roseville, the Sacramento Police Department previously announced. Three separate viewing locations were also announced in Rocklin, north Sacramento and Meadowview.
After a moment of silence, Kelley O’Sullivan ended the vigil by telling everyone to “hug a cop” on their way out.