So many people crowded into the old wooden pews in the stained-glass sanctuary of Kirkersville United Methodist Church on Sunday night that organizers put folding chairs outside, in the middle of Third Street, to accommodate the overflow.
More than 300 people — the equivalent of 60 percent of the village's population of 525 — came out for the Kirkersville Community Worship and Memorial Service.
Many in this Licking County community are still trying to come to grips with Friday's tragedy that happened just across Route 40 at the Pine Kirk Care Center.
Thomas Hartless, 43, went to that nursing home and fatally shot his girlfriend, Marlina Medrano, 46, her co-worker Cindy Krantz, 48, and Kirkersville Police Chief Steven Eric DiSario, 38, who had responded to the scene. Hartless then turned the gun on himself.
"We woke up on Friday morning, thinking that things would be routine," said the Rev. Matthew Van Winkle.
"The seemingly mundane things of life were brought to a screeching halt when we suddenly realized Kirkersville Ohio, was no longer the same. It was as if a great darkness had shrouded the town. Not only the town, but those whose lives were most closely affected by the events of the day," Van Winkle told the congregation.
Van Winkle admitted that as he prepared his remarks, the question that kept going through his mind was "What can I say?"
But Van Winkle said he realized that the only words were those of God in times like these, because that is the only way that darkness can be dispelled.
Sunday night's service leaned heavily on prayers, hymns, Scripture and words of encouragement.
Chaplain Richard Ellsworth of the Ohio State Highway Patrol offered a prayer on behalf of law enforcement and DiSario, noting how he had responded to the call. Ellsworth said his loss is keenly felt.
"Law enforcement is a family....It affects officers across this nation and around the world," Ellsworth said.
Cliff Biggers, chaplain for Licking County Prosecutor's office, prayed on behalf of the victims. He said he knows that people's hearts are heavy.
"You don't know what to say, but being here means a lot," he said.
Afteward, Van Winkle said he hoped that the service would be a step toward healing in the community. The church is helping to take further steps as a community spaghetti dinner will be held on May 23 as a benefit to help the victims' families.
Scott Snyder, 50, ran the soundboard for the service and said afterward that it is good to see how the church is responding.
"Things like this happen frequently," Snyder said, noting how such events dominate national news. "But it's more personal here. It's our community."
Gilbert McElfresh, 81, is a retired firefighter who still serves as a chaplain for the Hanover Township Fire Department. He said while this is a tragedy, "it speaks well of the community that they are coming together in tremendous fashion."
"I feel their pain," McElfresh said. "I hope they heal well."
Licking County Sheriff Randy Thorp posted his own emotional message on his Facebook page over the weekend, thanking all of the law enforcement who responded to Friday's shooting.
"Today the sun has risen and we give thanks for our lives, our loved ones and the strength we gain from the support of our community. Thank you all for the calls and messages of support, they are appreciated and do not go unnoticed," he wrote.
"Hell did pay us a visit, but did not win."