PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. (WUSA9) -- He was much more than just a police officer.
Community members in Oxon Hill remembered Corporal Stacey Gist as a father, husband, and a friend.
He served on the Prince George’s County Police Department for nearly 30 years and died after battling pneumonia.
People who attended a vigil played Corporal Gist’s voice, wrote messages, and posted his picture as the candles shined a light on a dark situation.
“When he went to the hospital, he never came back out the hospital,” Sean “Richie Rich” Long told WUSA9.
Friends said Corporal Gist died from pneumonia Sunday night.
“I thought it was a dream. I really did,” Sgt. Derrick Martin, with the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Department, said. “I really thought it was a dream.”
“It’s a big loss. Not just for the community, but for the agency,” Felton Foster said.
Corporal Gist was a 29-year veteran of the PGPD.
As a DC-area native, he worked to give back to the same streets he grew up on.
“He always used to look out for people. He always was there for people. He always believed in people. He never let nobody down,” Richie Rich said.
Corporal Gist was a husband and father of four who loved his community just as much as family.
“He helped everybody out. He looked out for everybody,” Richie Rich recalled.
Gist often worked on the side as a security at the Tiger Market in Oxon Hill.
“Even hardcore criminals would come to the store and talk to the man — try to get him to help them turn their life around. He was a positive man,” Foster said.
“He just gave groceries out of the kindness of his heart,” Thompson remembered. “I knew right then and there that he knew the essence of being a police officer in the community where he grew up.”
Corporal Gist’s friends said that in a climate like we’re in now – where there is sometimes a strain between law enforcement and some communities of color – what Gist was doing was important.
“He don’t like locking people up. He liked showing you the right way,” Richie Rich said.
Corporal Gist’s funeral will be this Tuesday at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden at 10:00 a.m.