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Hundreds gather to share memories of Liko Kenney

EASTON, N.H. -- Mourners at a service for Liko Kenney, who killed a police officer before being fatally shot by a passerby, remembered him yesterday as a spirited, sometimes troubled young man whose death a week ago could have been prevented.

Kenney, 24, a cousin of Olympic skier Bode Miller, shot and ran over Franconia Police Corporal Bruce McKay, 48, after a traffic stop for speeding May 11.

Another man who happened onto the scene killed Kenney using the fallen officer's gun; the state said the second shooting was justified.

Hundreds gathered in the pouring rain at the family-owned Tamarack Tennis Camp, where Kenney grew up, to share their memories of him.

"Liko was a good-hearted albeit spirited young man coming into his own," said Paula Wolcott, who led the group in a prayer. "Because of a clash of differences, his life here ended -- a sudden and tragic loss of life, leaving us bewildered and heartbroken."

Like many who spoke, she urged the communities of the close-knit mountain valley to mend the rifts that triggered the violence and find some meaning or purpose from the shootings.

Kenney and McKay had a contentious history and their deaths have divided the towns of Franconia and Easton, where some described McKay as a bully with a badge and others said he was a respectful and considerate officer.

In 2003, Kenney pleaded guilty to assaulting McKay during an arrest. In turn, Kenney's relatives and friends say he feared McKay. They said McKay had beaten Kenney and the young man was in such fear that he carried a weapon to defend himself.

On the day of the shooting, Kenney reportedly asked McKay to call another police officer after McKay first pulled him over. The attorney general said Kenney disobeyed McKay by speeding away.

The shootings happened shortly after, when McKay pushed Kenney's car off the road to stop him close to the Easton town line.

Kenney's memorial, called a "celebration of life," was held on the soccer field of the Kenney and Miller families' tennis camp, near where his parents were married and three-tenths of a mile from where he and McKay were killed. It was casual and unconventional -- a pointed contrast to McKay's formal police service earlier in the week.

Only a few mentioned McKay, who had a 9-year-old daughter, by name yesterday, though many spoke of Kenney's fear and their regrets for not having done more to help earlier.

"We all have guilt," said an uncle, Mike Kenney, who said his nephew was so scared he barricaded himself in his house at night.

"Liko was no Charlie Manson," said another uncle, Bill Kenney. "Liko was a dreamer just trying to get to the age of Aquarius."