A small group of Santa Cruz residents gathered at Calvary Episcopal Church Tuesday evening to mourn the loss of two Santa Cruz Police officers killed in the line of duty earlier in the day.
"It's horrible," Father Joel Miller said. "It seems unbelievable in Santa Cruz that there's such violence."
Parishioner Grace Davis-Marcellino urged the father to open the church's doors to the community in the wake of the violence, which also left a third person dead. The small group gathered and prayed together.
"Churches are always a natural gathering place in times of crisis," Davis-Marcellino as she cuddled her dog on the back pew of the historic church. She said she thought the church would be ideal because of its central location downtown and commitment to helping others.
Church outreach programs provide hundreds of meals to the homeless annually.
An email went out to parishioners about Tuesday night's vigil. The church will likely plan a larger gathering for the community to grieve, possibly on Saturday.
It follows tradition—Calvary Church began with a vigil for President Abraham Lincoln on Easter Sunday 1865, according to Miller.
Tuesday evening, the church bells rang out in three sets of three to announce the doors were open. "It's a demonstration of compassion, our open doors," Miller said. "It's a good thing, I think."