WATERLOO, Ill — The community of Waterloo is mourning one of their own this weekend. A week ago, trooper Nick Hopkins was shot and killed delivering a warrant in East St. Louis.
Thursday night kicked off a weekend of remembrances for their hometown hero.
Under a pastel sky, the small town filled the bleachers and sideline of the Junior High School football stadium with candles and blue lights.
Hopkin's pastor, Jamey Bridges, said that's a sign of how much he was loved.
"Speaks to his character, speaks to a community of people who are desperately asking how can we help?" said Bridges.
Of course, no one loved him like his family.
"We have a shared Ralph Waldo Emerson quote my grandpa Hopkins loved as a family creed – you can never do a kindness too soon, but you never know when it will be too late," said Nick's brother at the vigil.
Kindness you show the ones you love, or for trooper Hopkins, it's the kind of love he showed every day.
"You don’t come across people like that every day," said Cynthia Stanley.
Four years ago, Stanley found herself out of gas on the interstate and out of options.
"His car was sitting there, and my car just happened to stall behind an angel," said Stanley.
Trooper Hopkins drove her to the gas station, then filled up her tank. All the while, they shared a conversation that has stuck with her ever since.
"So that was such a joy just seeing how happy he was to have his new babies and seeing them grow," said Stanley.
They began as strangers and departed as friends.
"Always having a lasting impression on my heart," she said.
Pastor Bridges hopes the light of this community will shine through the darkness of the pain.
"I hope they find strength in the community, I hope they see a community that comes together," said Bridges. "You just left him, and you felt like you were a better person being around him."
Over the next few days, volunteers will be displaying thousands of flags along the funeral procession route.
A visitation will be held on Saturday at Waterloo High School from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The funeral will be held Sunday at 10 a.m. at the high school.
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