Overflow crowd supporting jail officers as shooter speaks up

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An overflow crowd came out to show support Thursday for the correctional officers shot at the jail two weeks ago. (KFSN)

An overflow crowd came out to show support Thursday for the correctional officers shot at the jail two weeks ago.

On the same day Thong Vang pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, a barbecue raised money for officers Malama Scanlan and Juanita Davila. The barbecue ran all day and raised $37,576 for Scanlan and Davila's families-- it also raised their spirits.

With a new attorney by his side, Vang answered to charges of attempted murder.

"Enter a not guilty plea, deny all enhancements," said his defense attorney Antonio Alvarez.

And for the first time since his arrest, we heard the voice of the man investigators say walked into the Fresno County jail and shot two correctional officers.

"Mr. Vang, are you willing to waive time for your preliminary hearing?" asked Judge Brian Alvarez.

"Yeah, to review the discovery," Vang replied.

Sitting in the courtroom and hearing Vang speak was Sheriff Margaret Mims. She came to show support for injured officers Scanlan and Davila and her entire office.

"Because everybody's hurting right now," Sheriff Mims said. "This was an attack on not just those correctional officers, but the whole sheriff's office and in fact our community. There were so many community members who could've been injured."

A block away, the community was already gathering in its own show of support. Sheriff Mims would see it for herself about two hours after Vang's court appearance. Donations in a jug and from the burgers grilled up by Fresno firefighters go to Scanlan and Davila's families.

The line stretched around the jail parking lot on foot and down Merced St. by car. The food was good, but the diners were here to deliver sustenance to a pair of families dealing with adversity.

By standing in line, they stood with the officers. Some also delivered their supportive messages on paper. The families are hearing it all very clearly.

"It means a lot, but I'm not really surprised because my dad is just the kind of guy that loves everybody no matter whether he really knew them or not," said Paulene Scanlan, whose father is Officer Toamalama Scanlan. "So, I've never met somebody who didn't love and adore my dad."

Sheriff Mims says Officer Davila could get out of the hospital as soon as Friday and Scanlan's condition is slowly improving as well.

There is still an armed officer stationed in the jail for the time being.

Vang is due back in court next month.

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