MILWAUKEE — Friends of Officer Matthew Rittner are not only sharing their memories and sadness, they’re also sharing hope, that his death on the job - another Milwaukee police officer killed - will serve as a much-needed wake up call.
“You expect to lose Marines in combat, not here,” said Max Zaruba, who served in Iraq with Rittner.
Zaruba and Rittner remained close friends after their deployment. Zaruba talked to Rittner a few days ago. They had made plans to hang out.
“I’ll never get the chance to hang out with him again,” Zaruba said. “I can’t even fathom that somebody here did this to a man who literally brought me home from war safe.”
Ryan Lackey was also part of their team in Iraq.
“His war never ended,” Lackey said. “He came home and took the fight to the streets. Every day he went to work he didn’t know if he was going to come home again. But we knew how skilled and experienced he was, so that gave us peace of mind.”
Wednesday, their hearts were shattered as their friend became the third Milwaukee police officer to die in the line of duty in just eight months.
“Too many people are becoming still photos and names on a wall,” Lackey said. “It proves to me that as a people, as a city and as a country, we’ve lost our way. And we need to find it. We need to figure this out fast because we can’t afford to lose amazing guys like Matt this way.”