(3TV/CBS 5) - About 200 people gathered Friday night to remember Officer Clayton Townsend at a candlelight vigil after he was killed in the line of duty earlier this week. 

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The candlelight vigil was held at the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Two Waters Complex.

"It's still surreal to me and it feels like a nightmare but just being here and seeing the love and support is just awesome," Cole Townsend, Clayton's brother, said.

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Officer Townsend was conducting a routine traffic stop on Tuesday evening when a driver, allegedly distracted by his phone, hit him and the other driver. 

Officer Townsend died at the hospital. He was 26 years old. 

[READ MORE: Driver who hit, killed Salt River officer while allegedly texting posts bond]

"This is beyond a tragedy. It was senseless and it was preventable, as we've learned," said Salt River Police Chief Karl Auerbach. 

Chief Auerbach said Townsend was with the department for five years and was one of his most dedicated and brilliant officers. 

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"He protected me and I owe him everything and everybody in this department is incredible," said one tearful speaker. 

Several people spoke at the vigil about their memories with Townsend. 

"I just loved Clayton so much," his father said to the crowd. 

"You look around at all the people that are here and you see how great of a man he was and a husband and he had a 10-month-old boy, he just had it all. He had the community behind him. It just means the world that everybody's here," Trey Townsend, Clayton's younger brother said. 

There will be a public visitation for Officer Townsend on Monday, Jan. 14 from 8 p.m. 9 p.m. at Green Acres Mortuary, 401 N. Hayden Road in Scottsdale. 

 


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

 

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