Family, friends and fellow officers were among the thousands of people who mourned fallen McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Jacob Keltner at his funeral Wednesday, sharing memories of the veteran officer and joining together in their grief.
Keltner was fatally shot Thursday as U.S. Marshals attempted to serve an arrest warrant at the Extended Stay Hotel in Rockford. The suspect, identified as 39-year-old Floyd Brown, fled the scene after the shooting and was later apprehended after a lengthy stand-off on Interstate 55 in central Illinois. [[507084002, C]]
An estimated 3,000 people attended Keltner's funeral on Wednesday morning at Woodstock North High School. Some of his fellow officers, emotional at times, honored Keltner in speeches that centered on his dedication to law enforcement and even more so, to the people he loved.
"Four years, five separate attempts and dozens of sheets of paper worth of background checks and you finally got your Marshal creds. You couldn't wait for that day to happen," Officer Mike Urgo said, recalling the February 2014 day Keltner was assigned to be his partner in the apprehension unit of the U.S. Marshals Great Lakes Regional Task Force.
"You left the ones you loved and made the ultimate sacrifice for your partners, your team, your brothers and sisters in blue and innocent lives everywhere," he continued. "I wish this day had never happened." [[507092872, C]]
"Jake, we are forever indebted to you for your sacrifice and will carry your spirit on with us forever," Urgo said. "You may rest easy now assured that your loved ones are in the most careful and capable hands. We only ask that you save a briefing spot for us all for that one day we will meet again. And I cannot wait for that day to happen."
Fellow Officer Tony Penna praised Keltner, saying, "there was no better fugitive investigator or police officer in this nation than Jake. There was simply none better than Jake." [[507092882, C]]
"Jake was skillfully brilliant, tenacious, tactical and just as important had the most wonderful sense of humor for a police officer I've ever been around," Penna added.
McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim echoed that sentiment, highlighting the impact he said Keltner had on those around him. [[507092452, C]]
"All our lives, whether we like it or not, have a ripple effect on the lives around us," Prim said. "Jake Keltner created, over his too-short span of life, not just a ripple but a mighty wave of goodness and light and there is nothing wasted about that. It is, in fact, all we can hope to achieve in this world. He just did it quicker than most."
Keltner was a 13-year veteran of the force and a father of two young sons, a family that his fellow officers vowed to care for in his absense. His wife Becki Keltner penned an emotional letter Monday to share with the world the kind of man her husband was, calling him the love of her life, a "cop's cop" and "an amazing dad." Her letter can be read in its entirety here.
Following the funeral, police asked the public to line the streets for a procession to "show their support and honor Deputy Keltner." Dozens of residents could be seen standing along the route, bididng their final goodbyes with salutes, signs and a massive show of support.