A day after McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Keltner was killed in the line of duty, he was remembered Friday as a man who faithfully and courageously served his community.
Keltner, who was killed while deputies tried to execute an arrest warrant at a Rockford hotel Thursday, was a 13-year veteran of the force, and he was loved and respects by colleagues, and the community at large.
Keltner called Crystal Lake home, and for many of his neighbors, the news of his death still has yet to sink in.
“It breaks your heart. It’s absolutely terrible,” neighbor Sharon Freise said.
Keltner was working with the U.S. Marshals while executing the search warrant, and was outside the hotel when 39-year-old Floyd Brown jumped from the window of his third story room. When Brown hit the ground, he opened fire, striking Keltner in the head.
Neighbors and colleagues say that serving the community was in Keltner’s blood. He came from a law enforcement family, as his father was retired from the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office, and his brother now works for the same police force.
“Jake was a fine young man,” McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim said. “We’re truly going to miss him. He was part of a group of officers who chased the worst of the worse.”
Keltner’s neighbors remembered him as a kind man who was a great father to his young children.
“Whenever we spoke, he was just very kind, concerned,” Friese said. “I’m at a loss for words. I just can’t imagine the little boys without their father.”
Congresswoman Cheri Bustos issued a statement expressing her condolences to Keltner’s family after the tragedy.
“My heart aches for the McHenry County Sheriff’s deputy who was shot and killed,” she said. “As the wife of a sheriff, I know today is the nightmare any family of a law enforcement officer fears, and the phone call one prays they never have to pick up.”
The alleged gunman will appear in court for the first time on Monday, where he will face first-degree murder charges. Prosecutors say that Brown would be eligible for the death penalty if convicted.