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Hundreds mourn slain N.H. police officer at vigil

Hundreds of people attended a vigil for Steve Arkell and his family in Brentwood, N.H

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Hundreds of people attended a vigil for Steve Arkell and his family in Brentwood, N.H.

BRENTWOOD, N.H. -- Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday night on a field at the town’s recreation area to pay tribute to slain police Officer Steve Arkell with a candlelight vigil that drew neighbors, fellow officers, and young lacrosse players that he coached.

Arkell, 48, died on Monday after being shot while responding to a report of a domestic dispute between a father and son. New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan said Brentwood has the support of the entire state.

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“They’ll be with Brentwood and the Police Department here every day because we’re all going to have to keep coming together to get through this. There aren’t any words that are going to make this loss any easier,” she said.

Hassan stood by a table where a photograph of Arkell was displayed alongside floral arrangements. Girls he coached on the Exeter High School lacrosse team made blue ribbons with Arkell’s badge No. 87 on them for people to wear.

“In the end he was a hero. He was taken far too soon,” said Courtney Preneta, who coached the lacrosse team with Arkell. “It was so clear how much he loved his family. He had such a passion for life and was such a smart man.”

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Sandra Herrick, who lives in Arkell’s neighborhood, recalled how Arkell taught her son break dancing moves in the early 1980s, like spinning on the floor and moving like a snake.

“My son took it up. Steve and his brother would give him lessons on how to do it,” she said. “We just had a ball.”

Arkell was also remembered as a handyman with many talents, including building homes.

Another Brentwood resident, Mary Myers, said he had a reputation for looking after the homes of the elderly when they would go out of town.

“He was always a shirt-off-the-back kind of guy,” Myers said.

She recalled the sensitivity Arkell showed one time when he responded to a call for a woman seeking medical aid. Myers said the woman was not as hurt as she thought, and Arkell treated her with great care.

“He was very patient with her. He said, ‘We’re going to give her all the time she needs to get it together,’ ” said Myers.

Wayne Demers, president of the Exeter Youth Lacrosse Association, said Arkell got interested in the sport shagging balls on the sidelines of his daughter’s games. He later traveled throughout New England to get training as a coach, Demers said.

“Steve loved working with the kids,” he said. “He was focused, organized, and enthusiastic with what he did. He brought that enthusiasm and love of the game to practice every day and he shared it with the kids.”

David Keith, who coached with Arkell for Exeter Youth Lacrosse, said the slain coach will still be with his players on the sidelines.

“He loved lacrosse. Steve made all of us better,” Keith said. “I know you’ll be missed by all.”

Brentwood police Lieutenant David Roy said he has known Arkell since the first grade.

“Steve has no regrets. I can tell you that,” Roy said. “This is a really, really tough time. We’re going to get through this.”

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.
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