CHICAGO (CBS) — Squads as far as they eye could see stretched about two miles in a show of respect and great sorrow along Rockford’s roads Thursday night as police, first responders and neighbors paid their respects for Deputy Jacob Keltner, who was killed in a shooting at a Rockford hotel Thursday morning.
“Every day we wake up, and those of us with children and spouses, we give them a kiss goodbye,” said Det. Sandra Rogers. “And we don’t know if we’ll ever see them again. And this is something we do because we love our community. We support our community. It’s not a job. It’s a calling.”
Keltner, 35, had a wife and two children.
Fellow law enforcement officers said he comes from a long line of service and was a dedicated family man who is truly going to be missed.
“There’s been too many of our officers killed this past year and too many of them who have served for all of us and taken on a duty. They’re supposed to protect and not be shot or killed,” said one onlooker at the procession.
Keltner was shot while helping a federal task force serve an arrest warrant at that hotel.
The Rockford Police Department’s procession began around 8 p.m. where the deputy took his final breaths, at Mercyhealth’s Javon Bea Hospital.
Lines of squad cars carried friends and people who’ve never met the deputy, creating lines of light. It was a caravan of grief with the Winnebago County Coroner’s Office as its destination.
“He’s a very hard working, loving, caring deputy that has been with the sheriff’s office for almost 13 years. And there’s no adequate words to express what a great person he is,” Rogers said.
“It’s heart wrenching to see, in a good way, to see how much support he got and received today. It’s amazing,” said another onlooker.