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Thousands attend visitation

Residents, law enforcement officials pay respects to Deputy Keltner

Thousands of area residents and law enforcement officials from across the region paid their respects to McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Keltner during his visitation Tuesday afternoon.

A line of mourners stretched outside DeFiore Funeral Home, 10763 Dundee Road, in Huntley.

"It's been really sad and devastating," said family friend Laura Strong while on a bus leaving the visitation. "I think the community wants to honor someone who dedicated their life to serving the community. ... He was a nice guy. He loved and cared for [his wife] and the family."

McHenry County Circuit Court Chief Judge James Cowlin said he attended the visitation to show support from the judiciary.

"The judiciary respected him," Cowlin said. "This is a terrible tragedy for the family. A horrendous tragedy. What can you do other than express your sympathies and say your prayers. The rest is in God's hand."

Donna Rothgeb of Gilberts attended the visitation with her husband and teenage granddaughter.

"We were just talking about how this is becoming too often," she said, adding that she hopes people understand the risks law enforcement professionals take every day. "I can't help but be moved. I'm so blessed I still have my husband, my children, my grandkids."

Kane County Sheriff's Office spokesman Pat Gengler said the Illinois Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) helped organize the visitation and funeral with help from the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System.

He said hundreds of law enforcement officials from across the region have volunteered their time and resources to help the make the visitation and funeral run smoothly. He expects thousands of police officers, state troopers, sheriff's deputies and firefighters from "all over the place" to attend Wednesday's funeral.

"It's not surprising," he said. "This is what happens. This is what everybody does. ... It's not surprising to see this kind of support."

Gengler said Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker stopped by Tuesday evening to pay his respects.

Keltner, 35, of Crystal Lake, was shot and killed Thursday while trying to serve a warrant to a known fugitive in Rockford. He was a McHenry County Sheriff’s deputy and a member of the U.S. Marshals Service Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force.

His wife, Becki Keltner, wrote a letter posted on the Illinois State Police Facebook page.

In the letter, Becki Keltner describes her husband as a “cop’s cop,” and said he loved his family.

“Jake is the love of my life,” she wrote. “We met at Western Illinois University in January 2004 and were inseparable. We married in 2007.”

She called for an end to hate.

"There are no words to sum up a man who meant so much for me and to so many others. My only wish is to have a world where we stop hating each other," she wrote. "Lift each other up. It's the only way to stop this unconscionable madness."

Gengler said the letter "breaks your heart."

A formal law enforcement walkthrough is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Carpentersville firefighter Matt Tracy said law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel are all "brothers."

"I wanted to come out today and pay our respects," said Tracy, who also serves as a member of the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois Honor Guard. "You never want to lose anybody in law enforcement, fire, EMS at all. ... We're going to keep doing what we do every day and hope that this doesn't happen and when it does be there to respect those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for what they do."

The sheriff's department said on Tuesday that donations to the Keltner family can be dropped off at or sent to the McHenry County Sheriff's Office, 2200 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock, 60098, or at DeFiore Funeral Home, 10763 Dundee Road, Huntley, 60142. Checks should be made out to Becki Keltner.

The funeral

The funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at Woodstock North High School, 3000 Raffel Road. Woodstock North will be closed for the service.

Visitors will not be able to park at the funeral home. Everyone must park at either St. Mary Catholic Church, 10307 Dundee Road, or Walmart, 12300 Route 47, in Huntley. Buses will bring attendees to and from the funeral home.

Parking at the high school Wednesday will be for first responders only. Doors will open at 8 a.m., with law enforcement and other first responders receiving priority seating.

An official procession of law enforcement and emergency vehicles will follow the funeral. The public can line the route to support and honor Keltner. The procession is expected to leave Woodstock North High School about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday and arrive at DeFiore Funeral Home about 3 p.m.

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