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Milwaukee rallies to benefits for city employees killed on the job

Posted at 1:34 PM, Feb 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-24 14:39:59-05

Despite a dreary, sloppy Saturday of weather, the Milwaukee community stepped up to support the families of several public employees killed on the job during the last eight months.

At Doc's Commerce Smokehouse in Downtown Milwaukee, crowds poured in starting at 11 a.m. for a fundraiser benefiting the families of fallen Milwaukee Police Officers Michael Michalski and Charles Irvine Jr.

"We had people outside waiting to get in before we opened today," said Brian Atkinson, of Doc's Commerce Smokehouse.

Atkinson said portions of food and drink sales, as well as money collected through a raffle and silent auction, would be put towards the Milwaukee Police Association's Fallen Heroes Fund.

Milwaukee Police Lt. Erik Gulbrandson said money from the fund, which is a non-profit, will pay for the families of Michalski and Irvine Jr. to travel to Washington, D.C. and see their loved ones honored at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

Gulbrandson said the goal is to raise an additional $70,000 by the end of April, with the trip scheduled for May.

Additional money collected will be put towards the same cause for the family of fallen MPD Officer Matthew Rittner, who will be honored at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in 2020.

"It gives you chills up the back of your spine," Gulbrandson said of the community's support on Saturday.

Also Saturday, a crowd gathered at The Bubbler, near Howell & Oklahoma, for a benefit to support the family of Bryan Rodriguez - a Milwaukee DPW worker killed on the job this month by a hit and run driver while filling a pothole.

Teri Bashaw, owner of The Bubbler, said 100 percent of what the business made on sales Saturday afternoon, as well as tips, will be donated to the Rodriguez family.

"I just hope they can get through this struggle, and that they know the community is there," she said.