Candlelight vigil honors victims, families at state Capitol

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker was joined by dozens of elected officials, law enforcement officers, advocates, friends and family members of victims and victims themselves Wednesday evening at the state Capitol to celebrate the 30th annual Michigan Crime Victims Vigil.

The event was hosted by the Crime Victim Foundation and takes place at the Capitol every April.

“This year’s event focused primarily on getting victims the care they need,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “When someone is a victim of a crime, their life changes through no fault of their own and they deserve every possible effort that could return their life to how it was before the crime was committed. Far too many victims face additional trauma because the lack of help or resources available to them.”

During the event, Schuitmaker presented the Beyond the Call of Duty award to two law enforcement officers who have gone significantly above and beyond their required duties.

Sgt. Bill Darnell of the DeWitt Police Department was recognized for his heroic actions while responding to a domestic dispute. Darnell was ambushed and shot in the forehead and face during the encounter, yet he did not give up. Having heard shots fired from upstairs, Darnell returned fire, eliminating the threat with the help of a fellow officer.

Also presented with the award was Detective Lt. Andrea Munford for her work investigating the allegations against then-Michigan State University physician Larry Nassar. Munford was originally approached by Rachael Denhollander, one of Nassar’s victims, and as the investigation continued she provided endless assistance to Denhollander and other victims.

“Michigan is a better place because of Sgt. Darnell and Detective Lt. Munford,” Schuitmaker said. “These two are shining examples of how law enforcement officers should serve their communities and I could not be more honored to recognize their bravery and commitment this evening.”

Schuitmaker also introduced Senate Resolution 156 during Wednesday’s session to recognize and acknowledge the importance of crime victims’ rights here in Michigan. SR 156 had a host of bipartisan co-sponsors and was unanimously adopted by the Senate.

“Attending this vigil is always a very moving experience for everyone,” Schuitmaker said. “The pain of losing a loved one never goes away, but through discussion and positive action, we can share stories and find closure with one another. I’ve met some incredible people throughout my tenure as co-chair of the crime victim’s caucus and look forward to further strengthening those relationships as we continue to fight for victims together.”


Editor’s Note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting Schuitmaker’s website at Click on “Photowire” under the Media Center tab. Audio of Schuitmaker discussing Wednesday’s event is also available on her website.

Photo caption: State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, stands with Sgt. Bill Darnell after he received the Beyond the Call of Duty award at the 30th annual Michigan Crime Victims Vigil Wednesday evening.