A candlelight vigil will be held Feb. 16 for Mike Pelkey, who was shot and killed at his job as a gas station attendant in Edgewood on Sunday.
Reverberations of the crime—the assailant remains at large—affected students in Santa Rosa and businesses in Moriarty.
In Santa Rosa, students were given a “shelter in place” order by schools; meanwhile in Moriarty, Lisa’s Truck Stop reduced its hours of operation.
“We have adjusted our hours due to a recent event in a neighboring town where a clerk was unnecessarily gunned down in a robbery attempt,” said a Facebook post Monday by Lisa’s Truck Stop. “Our focus remains on our employees’ safety as well as our customers.”
Employees of Smith’s have been asked not to talk to reporters due to the ongoing investigation. Still, the community has seen an outpouring of dismay on social media as people remember the kind of man they say Pelkey was.
“When I think of Smith’s I think of Mike. He was the perfect representation for the company,” said Tanya Pearcy in an email to The Independent. “So friendly, so kind, so helpful, always smiling. It was clear he was very proud to work for Smith’s.”
Pearcy continued, “It’s said when these things happen anyway, but it’s especially sad and hard when it’s in a small community like this, where everyone knows everyone. You find yourself seeking out those who make you feel like you are walking into their house; Mike was definitely one of those people. His loss will certainly be felt and missed by all of us out here.”
Facebook comments included the following:
“My oldest son and I was at the gas station and my son happened to lock the vehicle with my phone and keys in it. Mike was so sweet and caring he offered for me to use his car to go home and get my spare key… not anyone other than Mike I know would offer that.”
“You could tell he always took pride in his job and was always super polite and smiling.”
“He was a friendly, caring, kind and genuine person. We have always looked forward to seeing him every day and chatting with him. People like Mike are few and far between.”
“He was always so sweet with my kids. Last month he gave my 9 year old a special half dollar as a gift when she bought herself a soda. She was so proud of it!”
“He gave me a jump one time early in the morning. My battery died there at the station and he gave me a jump so I could get to work. Never forgot it. RIP sir.”
“Every time I go to his window he was very [patient] with my hand signs because I am deaf. He would give us a nice smile. I miss him.”
“Always such a nice kind man. 8 years ago when I quit smoking he’d encourage me every time I got gas and not cigarettes. He was always so nice to my son when he worked at Smith’s. He was there when I taught my now adult sons to pump gas.”
“I remember seeing him about three days before this happened. I remember thinking when I said thank you he always did the same little head nod and smile to say you’re welcome. I remember thinking he always does that and it always makes me smile!”
“Mike thank you for the rides you gave me and my son. … You never let us freeze. Thank you for your warm smile. Hope you are fishing wherever you are.”
“I’m gonna truly miss this guy, his smile and his one of a kind positive personality.”
A Smith’s employee said that on Mother’s Day, Pelkey would buy “a couple of dozen roses” and give one to each mother working that day.
Another story said he gave a customer with a gas can a ride back to his vehicle, and helped him start the car before leaving him.
Yet another said that Pelkey had called his wife after she paid for gas but didn’t pump it. “By noon Mike called and said, your wife forgot to pump her gas. Come down here and get the money or get gas.”
Pelkey was described as soft-spoken and kind.
Friends, acquaintances and people who bought gas from Pelkey had covered his vehicle—still left where he parked it for work Sunday—in the parking lot at Smith’s with flowers and remembrances.
“I live in Edgewood and go there every day,” said Bobbi King. She described Pelkey as “very professional and very hardworking,” adding, “I’ve never seen him upset with any customer at all. … It was a sad situation. It’s going to be turmoil for our community. He will be missed. I’m astonished how many people responded to posts on Facebook about him. He’s well-known and going to be missed by a lot of people.”
A candlelight vigil will be held Friday, Feb. 16, in the Smith’s parking lot in Edgewood at 5 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend.