Vigil in Smyrna honors Lt. Steven Floyd Sr.

“… A great man who always did the right thing, no matter the cost”

SMYRNA — The gusty freezing temperatures didn’t deter hundreds of friends, family, law enforcement, emergency personnel and other well-wishers.

They gathered Friday night for a candlelight vigil in honor of the late Lt. Steven Floyd Sr. in Smyrna Municipal Park.

The 16-year veteran correctional officer was slain in the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center prisoner standoff.

Earlier Friday, he was issued a posthumous promotion to lieutenant and awarded the Medal of Valor by the Department of Corrections which was received by his son, Steven Floyd Jr.

Uzia Clink, 7, peers up to watch Dalieta Mears, left, and Keyondra Newman light their candles at a candlelight vigil for Steven Floyd at the Smyrna Municipal Park on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

A large candle-holding crowd gathered in and around the park’s gazebo below flags flying at half-staff and the black American flag with a blue stripe that has come to represent the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ movement.

Lt. Floyd’s family was present to mourn with the community. Several times the crowd broke out in song — singing “Amazing Grace” and “What a Mighty God We Serve.”

The Rev. John Riley, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Smyrna, offered prayers for the Lt. Floyd and his family.

“We gather here tonight remembering a courageous man, a loving husband, father, grandfather, member of this community, correction officer, friend and colleague,” he said. “Steven fell in the line of duty serving the people of this state and this community in an arduous and stressful profession.”

Mourners for Steven Floyd sing Amazing Grace during a candlelight vigil at the Smyrna Municipal Park on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

To murmurs of agreement, he also made a plea for justice.

“We pray for justice, tempered by mercy,” said Mr. Riley.
Local politicians also arrived to share offer condolences. On hand were Rep. William Carson, Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, Speaker of the House Peter Schwartzkopf, Rep. Ruth Briggs-King, Rep. Trey Paradee, Sen. Bruce Ennis and Smyrna Mayor Joanne Masten.

“Today we are all mourning the loss of a true Delaware hero,” said Rep. Carson.

A group of buglers were on hand to play Taps.

Geoff Klopp, president of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware, offered his thoughts to the assembled group, as well.

“Steven was a great man who always did the right thing, no matter the cost,” he said. “I’m not surprised at all to see the amount of people that came out tonight.”

Mourners for Steven Floyd during a candlelight vigil at the Smyrna Municipal Park on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

At one point, a man was escorted through the crowd into the gazebo. Badly beaten and bruised, he identified himself as one of the other correctional officers that had been taken hostage during the standoff. He tearfully offered his condolences to Lt. Floyd’s family and embraced Ms. Floyd. The officer said it had only been his fourth week at James T. Vaughn.

The ceremony came to a close with an rendition of “The Wind Beneath My Wings” and a release of hundreds of blue balloons into the night sky.

Dover resident Carl Bronson came to the vigil with his wife to show solidarity with all correctional officers in the state and express sympathy for the late Lt. Floyd. He was heartened to see the large number of people who showed their support despite the frigid temperatures.

“I was really disturbed to see that there were protests at the prison yesterday in favor of the inmates,” he said. “But that was only a few people who seemed pretty confused.

“There’s got to be a thousand people here. This is where peoples’ hearts really are and that’s good to see.”

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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