LUBBOCK, Texas (KLBK) — Students and faculty gathered on Tuesday for a vigil to honor Officer Floyd East Jr. who was shot in the line of duty on Monday night on campus. Students said they’re still processing what happened but trying to honor the officer anyway they can.
On Tuesday, students wrote notes thanking officers for keeping them safe. On Tuesday evening, a vigil was held with hundreds of people in attendance. And when the sun went down, the Jones AT&T stadium had blue lights shining on it to honor police.
That color blue, which can sometimes symbolize law enforcement, can mean so much for a community in healing.
“I just wanted to say thank you for everything they do,” said Giovanni Aranda, a junior at Texas Tech, while writing a thank you note to hang in the Student Union Building. “They’re always the ones running into danger. It’s really hard to see something like happen in our own community.”
Officer East will be remembered as a loving husband and dad by friends. He’s survived by his wife and two teenage daughters.
He worked at Texas Tech Police Department for almost three years, spending more than two as a telecommunications operator. He got certified as a peace officer back in May, in charge of protecting the students at Tech from danger.
And that’s what one student said she was most thankful for on Tuesday night while attending the vigil.
“He was in the process of protecting us from someone we didn’t know was that dangerous,” said sophomore Savannah Shelby. “In order to keep us safe on our campus and get our education, he sacrificed a lot for us.”
Students will remember him as a man who came into work everyday to protect them.
“I couldn’t believe it, my heart just sunk,” said Aranda.
“You see this kind of stuff happening all over the world, but you never think it’s actually going to happen to you,” said Beatriz Roman.
Writing these notes was just one way to honor an officer that students called “one of their own.”
At the vigil, students came together to support one another. Many praying, holding hands and lighting candles all in an effort to heal together.
“One of the biggest things we learn when we come to college is compassion,” said Shelby. “We decided to stick together and be together and that’s what we’re doing for everybody. All I feel is pride and love.”