SOUTH SALT LAKE — Elizabeth Romrell spoke publicly for the first time Thursday since her husband died in the line of duty for South Salt Lake Police.

Inside the police station where her husband worked, she read a statement full of thanks to the community, especially showing gratitude for being a resident of South Salt Lake — grateful she had been brought to the area by her husband, David Romrell.

"David knew that South Salt Lake was special at the moment he set foot in this town," she said. "Jackson and I hope to spend a lifetime here: getting to know you, showing our gratitude and celebrating the life of my husband, David."

She profusely thanked Romrell's family, several of whom were there with her, for making her feel like part of theirs.

"This has been the most challenging experience of my life, yet I have never felt alone. This family has constantly, and annoyingly," she laughed through tears, "reminded me that I am and will always be part of this family."

Chief Jack Carruth read a letter drafted by the family full of similar thanks for the community. Seven members of Romrell's family — including four-month-old Jackson, held by one family member — stood behind Carruth as he read their words.

"The loss of David has obviously come as an overwhelming amount of devastation, emptiness, confusion, anger, pain and all the emotions in between," the family wrote. "With that darkness also came great light we would never have anticipated. We are truly grateful for the outpouring of support and the love from the community. It has made this tragic time in our family life a little easier and allowed us to keep our focus on honoring David and the life he had led."

In the letter, Romrell's family thanked the "hundreds of individuals" and groups that helped in countless ways after his death — both locally and from around the nation.

"We want to encourage the community to continue to honor David by helping one another," the letter read. "David's life was filled with service of family, friends, community and our country. David always reached out to people around him to make sure they felt included and valued."

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The letter urged:

"Give your partner, your kids, your friends one extra hug. Show kindness to those you come across in your lives, even though they may not seem to deserve it. Seek to understand each other and find common ground. Love fiercely. Listen intently."

Deputy Chief Dwayne Ruth and South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood stood next to Carruth throughout the short gathering, while a vinyl poster on one wall displayed photos of David and Elizabeth, the dates of the officer's birth and death, and a blank space filled with handwritten messages from his fellow South Salt Lake officers.

"You fought when others would flee," one message read. "SSLPD will forever be bonded with you and your family."

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