At the spot where Downey Police Officer Ricardo Galvez was fatally gunned down, they gathered by the hundreds Thursday evening.
The air was quiet, reverent and mournful. The silence was pierced only by the wails of those closest to the slain officer.
"Why Ricky? Why Ricky?" cried a young woman, whom officials identified as Galvez's sister. "Nobody knows the pain but us."
Close friends and relatives, lit by the glow of candles and the lights of television cameras, shared in the tears.
Helium balloons with stars and stripes marked the parking spot next to the Downey Police Department's headquarters where 29-year-old Galvez was fatally shot on Wednesday night.
That site, formerly an ordinary corner of pavement in a civic center lot, had become a makeshift altar as candles lined the curb nearby. Galvez's loved ones sat or crouched.
Police officers from Downey and law enforcement agencies across the region, along with residents and friends, stood by in perfect silence, carrying candles and dabbing away tears.