BISMARCK — A group of about 200 Bismarck area residents gathered Sunday, June 14, to honor slain Grand Forks police Officer Cody Holte.
Holte, 29, was shot and killed in Grand Forks last month after coming to the assistance of two other officers who were serving eviction papers to Salamah Pendleton at his apartment. Pendleton is charged with murdering Holte and his mother, Lola Moore, who also died in the apartment.
Bismarck resident Johanna Foster organized Sunday's event on Facebook to make sure Holte is remembered and "shine a good light" on law enforcement. Foster's husband, Johnas, served with Holte in the North Dakota National Guard's 815th Engineer Company, which made his tragic death personal.
"Just watching what (my husband) went through after we learned that Holte was the officer that died .... I felt a calling to set this event up," Foster said.
Those who came to the afternoon event met outside the Bank of North Dakota, stood for a moment of prayer and walked across Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Missouri River into Mandan. Most marchers carried American flags, while others walked with the "Thin Blue Line" flag, a common piece of pro-police imagery in the United States.
Four Bismarck police officers chatted with marchers and walked behind them, and a procession of about 15 police cars drove by the group on the bridge.
A first-time organizer, Foster said she hopes she will never have to plan another event like the one on Sunday.
Foster, who has family members working in law enforcement, said she "backs the blue" but noted that the event was always meant to serve strictly as a memorial for Holte. The hourlong event came and went without much mention of politics, and Foster said anyone who tried to politicize Holte's death would have been asked to leave.
Johnas Foster said he had a few personal conversations with Holte over the four years they served together and found him to be "the example of a man." For him, Holte was a brother who gave his life in selfless service to his community.
"The worst thing we can do is forget about guys like him," he said.
The event also included a charitable aspect. Organizers set up a coffee can for donations to Holte's wife and infant son in Grand Forks. It wasn't immediately clear how much money attendees raised, but the can was brimming with cash when the event ended.