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Community honors and remembers Racine Police Officer John Hetland

Posted at 10:45 PM, Jun 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-23 23:45:13-04

RACINE — A community is honoring a veteran Racine police officer who sacrificed his life while trying to stop an armed robbery at a local tavern.

Last Monday night Officer John Hetland was shot and killed when he intervened in a robbery at Teezers in Racine. He wasn't working at the time.

His impact reached countless lives, who showed their support at a vigil Sunday night.

Considered a hero, Officer Hetland was a man filled with compassion and bravery.

"He loved his kids. He loved his community and he'd do anything for anyone," friend, Pat Sielaff said.

Protecting his community is what he tried to do when he was killed, and despite not being on the clock, Sielaff said that wouldn't have stopped him.

"John could have been retired and he would have done the same thing. I'm not surprised with what he did because that's who he was," Sielaff said.

"I think that he just immediately dove into action and there was no second thought of it, and so I think in hindsight he would do it again," friend, Leslie Thielleman added.

Thielleman met him when he was a school resource officer at Horlick High School.

"He really kind of took me under his wing and made me feel safe," Thielleman said.

She said he loved taking care of the kids.

"That was the thing. He was there because he was trying to lead kids on the right path," Thielleman said.

No matter what it was, serving others always took precedence, and now those he served hope to do the same as they seek the arrest of his killer.

"Someone's going to come forward. I do believe that he will be found," Sielaff said.

"None of us can even start to heal from this process until this person is caught," Thielleman added.

A reward is now more than $70,000 for information leading to the arrest of the suspect. He's described as 5 feet, 8 inches tall, and was seen wearing a black mask and black sweatpants at the time of the incident.

Authorities are also asking for anyone in the area with possible surveillance video to contact them.

If you have any information you're urged to call the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department at 262-656-1234. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 262-636-9330.

Public visitation for Officer Hetland will be at Carthage College's Seibert Chapel on Tuesday, June 25 from 3:00-7:00 p.m. and Wednesday, June 26 from 9:00-10:30 a.m.

Funeral services will be held at Carthage College's Seibert Chapel on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. Interment, with full law enforcement honors, will follow in West Lawn Memorial Park.