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Yucaipa candlelight vigil honors slain sheriff's detective

By Laura Yanez, News Reporter, Laura.Yanez@cbslocal2.com
Published On: Feb 20 2013 01:43:15 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 20 2013 11:49:32 AM CST
YUCAIPA, Calif. -

Rain poured down on hundreds of neighbors, friends, family and coworkers who stood together with lit candles at the Yucaipa Community Center on Tuesday night. Tears rolled down the cheeks of those grieving the death of 35-year-old San Bernardino County Sheriff's Detective Jeremiah MacKay.

"The support we see for my son is just incredible. It lifts our spirits and reminds me Jeremiah was the type of guy who wanted to make a difference," said his father Alan MacKay.

With the sounds of bag pipes playing, Alan MacKay embraced the candlelight vigil that was held one week after his son was shot and killed near Big Bear in a gunfight with fugitive Christopher Dorner.

"It shouldn't have been him. It shouldn't have been anyone," said Kelly Mitchell, MacKay's cousin.

"He was there everyday in a short sleeve shirt, his vest, his helmet and ready to take care of business," said Sheriff John McMahon.

The graduate of Rim of the World High School leaves behind his wife Lynette, 7-year-old daughter and 4-month-old baby boy. As the family and Sheriff's Department try to cope, neighbors and acquaintances want to show their support.

"He sacrificed his whole life to protect us. He lost his life protecting us. We're here to pay our respects," said Cal. Fire Captain Travis Paye.

Neighbor Jamie Clays, of Cherry Valley, says it's pain far too familiar, the kind she felt when her brother was killed battling the Esperanza Fire in 2006.

"You don't recover from losing a loved one in the line of duty, especially when they were taken by someone deliberately. You never recover. Nothing is ever the same but it does make you feel better see the paying of respects," said Clays.

The veteran served 15 years with the department. The community and Sheriff McMahon thanked him for what he did.

"I don't want my grandson to grow up not knowing what his father was about."

The detective's father says as Clan MacKay moves forward it plans to share their hero's legacy.

"I'm proud of him. For him to die for his brothers is unbelievable," said MacKay's father.

MacKay's funeral will be held on Thursday at 11 a.m. at the San Manuel Amphitheatre in San Bernardino (2575 Glen Helen Pkwy, San Bernardino, CA 92407) The public is invited to attend.