By TOMIE V. PARKS
Special to the Taylor Press
They passed out posters and made a lot of posts on Facebook.
"It was an invitation, plain and simple, for people to come out and pray," said Casey Preusse of Hutto, regarding Thursday night's prayer vigil for Sgt. Chris Kelley at Fritz Park in Hutto.
She organized the event as a nod of respect to the widow of Sgt. Kelley, for she also lives the life of a law enforcement officer's wife. She's married to Texas State Trooper David Preusse of Hutto and is all to familiar with the sacrifice and hardships that work entails.
"I know it's hard, so I just started asking people to come," Preusse said.
She wasn't sure what the results would be, and she wasn't entirely sure what the vigil would entail when plans were set in motion.
"Yeah, we didn't know if 10 people would come or 10 hundred," said the Rev. Alan McGrath of Hutto Discovery United Methodist Church, the vigil's host pastor who opened and closed the program.
The pair's invitations started to circulated late Wednesday night. By Thursday morning the high number of RSVPs caused them to change venues from the parking lot at Hutto City Hall to Hutto Fritz Park.
"We enlisted the help of the Taylor and Round Rock Police Departments as well as the Williamson County Sheriff's Officers to direct traffic," said Christina Kane-Gipson, the public information officer for the City of Hutto, on Thursday at lunchtime. "It looks like a lot of people are going to be there, and we want to be prepared." (These law enforcement agencies have been covering for the Hutto Police Department in all other areas, as well, Kane-Gipson said. The local officers have been relieve of duty in effort to give them the freedom to mourn.)
By the time 7 p.m. came along, all of the parking lots near Fritz Park were full as well as the curbs of all the streets in sight. Several hundred residents had come in response to the invitation, alongside a host of community leaders, which included representatives of the Hutto School District, Hutto City Council, the Hutto Fire Department, Williamson County Regional Response and the ROTC members from the school.