MILLCREEK - Mourners who gathered around the rose-laden pay phone where Roland "Bo" Zahorka was killed said the light snowfall Tuesday afternoon was an appropriate tribute to their relative and friend."This is Bo's type of weather," said Zahorka's sister, Colleen Pursifull. "If he were here right now, he'd either be building a snowman or starting a snowball fight. He was always looking for fun."
Participants in Tuesday's vigil say the phone outside the Phillips 66 gas station at 315 E. 3900 South stands as a reminder of the pain wrought by gang violence.
Zahorka, 38, was shot point-blank in the chest Thursday evening following an altercation with two teens over the use of the phone. The Salt Lake construction worker died a short time later.
Even though he is only 16, Anthony Martin Archuleta - an alleged gang member who lives just blocks from the site of the shooting - was charged as an adult Tuesday with murder, a first-degree felony, in connection with Zahorka's death.
The Salt Lake County attorney's office decided not to file any charges against an 18-year-old man who allegedly handed Archuleta the gun.
For more than five hours people stopped by the gas station to lay a rose below the phone in Zahorka's memory. Some folks exchanged favorite "Bo" stories, while others admitted they had never met Zahorka - but felt compelled by grief and anger to attend.
Old men talked in whispers, mothers clutched their babies, and neighborhood kids on bicycles pedaled to the gas station, a long-stemmed rose in one hand. Green lapel ribbons - an anti-gang symbol - unified the diverse crowd.
A banner on the wall over the phone read: "In Loving Memory of Our Brother Bo. Don't Give Babies Guns."
"We organized this peaceful demonstration to remember how my brother died. It wasn't fair," said Bernadice Zahorka. "We need to put an end to crime and gangs. We need to put an end to this bull."
Vigil participant Sharon Conklin calls herself an everyday citizen who wants to play a role in curbing neighborhood violence to ensure a safe future for her 6-week-old son.
"I've learned over the past few days that anyone can become a victim of violent crime. I considered Bo one of my best friends, and now he's been taken away from all of us," said Conklin.
Some who had gathered at the gas station expressed sorrow laced with anger. Lonnie Pursifull, Zahorka's nephew, was outraged that the man who allegedly handed Archuleta the handgun was not charged with any crime.
"In the next few days we're going to organize a march to protest the 18-year-old guy's release," Lonnie Pursifull said. "We also want to send a clear message - kids need to put down their guns and go back to being kids."