WESTON, Conn. -- About three dozen people gathered in Weston's Town Hall to pray and to remember the police officers from Dallas killed and wounded in a coordinated sniper ambush late Thursday.
"I'm not just praying for the Dallas Police. I am praying for the country," First Selectman Nina Daniel said in comments before the ceremony.
The attack on police officers in Dallas came at the end of a march with hundreds of people who were protesting fatal police shootings this week of African-American men in Baton Rouge, La., and St. Paul, Minn. A total of 12 officers were shot, and five have died. Two civilians were also injured.
"It is not an issue of black and white. The demonstration was peaceful," Daniel said of the march in downtown Dallas and the attack that followed. "It was planned violence. It took the demonstrators as much by surprise as it did the police."
Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht of Beth Israel Synagogue in Norwalk expressed his shock but said that people must be united in a time of crisis.
"America is in big trouble, and it is a country that is very troubled at this time," he said. "And I am sure that all of us and our fellow citizens feel the same. This is something that should not be taking place in our country, and it is something that we need to reach out to. Something that is higher than ourselves that can unite us all to take away that which divides and accentuate that which brings us together."
Weston Chief of Police John Troxell spoke of the dedication of his fellow police officers, saying they choose their career because they care about people and the community.
"It's a calling that certain people have," he said. "We all want to help people ultimately. We want to protect people ultimately."
Troxell said that the role of a police officer is challenging.
"We all know that it is a difficult position to be in because we are under the most scrutiny," he said. "Anything that we do right usually doesn't make it to the press but the things that we do wrong, the mistakes that we make become front page news."
He said that his department's officers have to reach a high bar in order to be hired.
"The officers here are ready to lay their lives down for anyone in this room or anyone that is in this town," he said.
The Rev. Bernard R. Wilson, pastor of the Northfield Congregational Church, led the audience in prayer and a hymn.
State Sen. Tony Hwang, R-28th District, also spoke at the event and expressed his shock at the killings.