About 100 people gathered at Sanger High School on Sunday evening for a vigil honoring Juanita Davila, one of the correctional officers who was shot in the Fresno County Jail lobby Sept. 3.
Members of the community and relatives of Davila lit candles, sang and prayed for Davila, who still is hospitalized.
Organizer Cindy Alvarado said she has known Davila for more than 30 years because she is her sister-in-law’s sister. She visited Davila on Saturday and said she knew the vigil was coming together. “She was really excited,” Alvarado said. “I just thought we should do for her what she does for us – take care of us.”
Many of Davila’s relatives were also at the vigil, including two of her daughters.
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Davila’s 20-year-old daughter, Brittany, was thankful the vigil honored her mother. She said her mom was doing better and able to speak. “She can talk to us very quietly. I know it’s going to take a long time,” Brittany Davila said.
Although Brittany Davila said her mother won’t be in the hospital for too much longer, she has a lot of recovery ahead of her, including a surgery for her jaw.
We are doing this not only for our mom but for (Officer Toamalama Scanlon’s) family as well.
Brittany Davila, daughter of Officer Juanita Davila
Brittany Davila also said that Officer Toamalama Scanlan was still in the intensive care unit. “We are doing this not only for our mom but for their family as well,” she said.
Three Sanger police officers showed up in uniform during the vigil’s prayer to bow their heads for a short time before leaving.
Davila and Scanlan were unarmed and working in the lobby of the downtown Fresno jail when they were shot as they tried to escort Thong Vang out of the lobby. Vang, 37, is facing attempted murder charges. Davila was struck in the face by a bullet. Scanlan was struck in the head.
Davila chose three songs to be played at the vigil, said her daughter. They were sung by musicians from St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Sanger.
During her visit with Davila on Saturday, Alvarado told her, “We’re going to keep praying until you and your partner are back on your feet.”