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'It's really hard': Community pays respects to Officer Hetland

Posted at 7:27 PM, Jun 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-25 20:27:47-04

On a cloudy day, blue ribbons lined the road as family, friends and law enforcement officers arrived at Officer John Hetland's visitation.

Across the street from the chapel, a boulder was painted blue with a thin black line and Hetland's badge number, 1928.

"It’s really hard when you’re attached to somebody you know and this is just senseless. This is just so absolutely senseless," said State Senator Van Wanggaard, who used to work with Hetland at the Racine Police Department.

Wanggaard trained Hetland and has described him as having a "servant's heart."

"I think that we are blessed to have guys like that who will run towards the gunfires instead of away," said Wanggaard.

Officer Hetland was killed while trying to stop an armed robbery at a Racine bar. He was off-duty at the time.

Hetland's loss can be felt throughout the community he served.

"It breaks my heart," said Stephanie Bedford, Genergal Manager at the Racine Culver's on 21st.

"I did not personally know him, but I have people that work here that are related to him as well so it hits close to home."

The restaurant's owner donated $5,000 to the reward fund to help catch Officer Hetland's killer.

Bedford said seeing Hetland's relatives and law enforcement family go through a painful loss is a somber reminder.

"Sometimes they do look like they’re invincible and you don’t really think of law-enforcement agents as being able, but they take a risk every day when they go out there so I respect it and I appreciate it," she said.

Officer Hetland's funeral will take place Wednesday morning.

If you have any information that can help investigators solve his death, call police immediately.