As the darkness set Thursday night on Hickok Park, a woman used the small amount of light to spot the play button.
As the words poured out through the small boom box, candles were lifted in the air in honor of someone who held a special place in each of the participants’ hearts.
“I’m no longer a slave to fear,” the chorus repeated. “I am a child of God.”
“No Longer Slaves” was said to be the favorite song of Joseph Weber, 36. And Thursday night’s candlelight vigil was to honor the man who died during an officer-involved shooting exactly a week earlier.
“We listened to that, and we prayed every day at lunch,” said David Boeckner, a close friend of Weber who worked with him the last six years. “And recently, we played it a lot.”
Boeckner was one of many people who spoke in remembrance of Weber during an event that lasted nearly an hour and was organized by neighbors, friends and classmates just a few blocks from where the incident happened.
“Everybody in service would get a good vibe from (the song),” Boeckner said.
The event was organized to honor the life of Weber, who graduated from Oakley High School in 1999. He was associated with New Age Services of Hays and worked at Joe Bob Outfitters.
Memorial services were Tuesday for the man Boeckner labeled as “gentle, loving and someone who always was putting his glasses up.”
Approximately 100 people attended the candlelight vigil, and all were given the opportunity to support Weber by lighting a candle during the ceremony.
“This is all about honoring Joey,” said Jenna Jacobs, one of the organizers of the event. “Hopefully something good will come from it.”
Jacobs and a few others in Hays began organizing the vigil earlier this week, along with a former classmate of Weber’s who lives in Seattle and was unable to attend.
“Right now, we hope it brings some peace to his family,” Jacobs said. “We don’t want his name to be forgotten.”
Misty Staab said the organization began in earnest Monday.
“And look at what this brought out,” she said about the turnout.
She said the event wasn’t organized for the community to take sides on what might have happened during the incident, but rather to show love to Weber and his family.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is continuing to investigate the incident, which is protocol in officer-involved shootings in the state.
“That’s why we’re here, to honor him,” Staab said. “We don’t want to talk about the case. We don’t want any cop-bashing. We don’t want anyone getting nervous. It’s mainly to support Joey and his family.”