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Community Comes Together In Darkness

February 1, 2012, 9:57 PM by Kelly Bartnick

Community Comes Together In Darkness
MADISON, SD - Madison police made an arrest Wednesday in Tuesday night's deadly shooting when retired teacher and coach Norm Johnson was shot and killed at his home. 

Authorities have 73-year-old Carl Ericsson of Watertown behind bars. He was arrested on one count of first degree murder for the death of Johnson. If convicted he could face life in prison.

Wednesday evening, the community gathered at Trinity Lutheran Church for a prayer service to offer comfort to one another and try to come to terms with this tragic case.

It was a candlelight vigil of evening prayer. Tuesday night's violent events rocked the community of almost 7,000.

Authorities said earlier in the day no one was in serious danger. Following the arrest, they now believe it was an isolated incident. But the community was still shaken, and they turned to a higher power for some clarity.

After a time of tragedy comes a moment for silent prayer.

“Trying to make sense of what happened to our friend Norm. Trying to make sense of something that just doesn't make sense,” Pastor Dirk Hagmaier said.

Monday's violent attack in the darkness of night took a neighbor, parishioner and friend. Because of that, more than 170 people turned out at Trinity Lutheran Church.

“We always come together, in times of need,” Tami Christiansen said.

The community is remembering the fear.

“We had to sleep in the living room because we were so upset about it,” Ashley Hayden said.

And searching for calm.

“The violence, the ugliness, the evil that stands behind all this,” Pastor Constanze Hagmaier said.

And, the town is hoping for peace.

“We have over 100 kids or young people that didn't come to school today because they were afraid,” Pastor Dirk said.

Pastor Dirk and Constanza consoled Norm Johnson's family during the day and Wednesday evening it was time to reach out to the church family.

“The church is the place that speaks light into the darkness,” Pastor Constanza said.

And in this time of darkness, a flame starts small, but turns bright in solidarity.

For a man who fell, by a community who won't forget.

“Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of god,” Pastor Dirk said.

Johnson's funeral is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Madison.

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