The Alton High School class of 2001’s Facebook group was useful in organizing their 10-year reunion. But in the five years since then, Missy Raley said it was mostly dormant.
That is until the former classmates got word that Officer Blake Snyder, a 2001 graduate of Alton High School, died in an early morning shootout Oct. 6 in south St. Louis County. In the days that followed, Raley said the group was filled with posts about their old friend.
“There was a big call for, ‘Everyone let us know where the services are,’” Raley said. “It turned into, ‘Let’s do something here in Alton for Blake.’ ... We wanted to celebrate Blake in the town where he grew up.”
So Raley, also a graduate in the 2001 class, called the school district on Thursday to ask about the availability of the football field at West Elementary School, 1513 State St., Alton. She and others organized a candlelight vigil for Snyder there from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday.
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Raley said the vigil is an opportunity for the metro-east to mourn, so it is open to the public.
The 33-year-old police officer leaves behind a wife and 2-year-old son. He served the St. Louis County Police Department for four years.
Some in the Alton High School group remember Snyder from as far back as preschool, Raley said.
“Blake was always — I don’t know the right vocabulary for this — he was just a kind person,” she said.
Other memorials have been organized for Snyder across the St. Louis area, including one at Affton High School in Missouri, which Raley attended.
“They filled their bleachers,” Raley said. “We just thought, ‘Perhaps we could fill our bleachers in his hometown with people who loved him.’”
Raley said the Monday night vigil in Alton will include a slideshow with old photos from Snyder’s classmates and their families — posts in the group asked for submission of everything from baby pictures to prom.
The Alton Police Department Honor Guard will be there for a wreath presentation, according to Raley. Some of Snyder’s close friends will speak, and there will be a balloon release in his honor.
The community will have opportunities to donate money to Snyder’s family during the vigil. Blue bracelets and Officer Blake Snyder car decals will be sold, and donation buckets will be passed around. Raley said all of the money raised will go directly to the family.
A visitation for Snyder will be later in the week. It is scheduled for 4-9 p.m. Wednesday at Kutis Funeral Home, 101051 Gravois, in St. Louis. Funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday at Family Church, 17458 Chesterfield Airport Road, in Chesterfield, Mo. Following the service, internment will be at Valhalla Memorial Park in Godfrey.
There is a call for supporters to line the street at 12 p.m. Thursday from Clifton Terrace to Valhalla Memorial Park in Godfrey.
On Monday afternoon, St. County Police announced that Snyder’s funeral procession will enter Highway 40 east to Interstate 270 North to Highway 367 North toward Alton. It will continue to Route 100 to Clifton Terrace Road and turn right on to Clifton Terrace Road. It will then go down Illinois Route 3 to Valhalla Memorial Park.