How do you say thank you to someone who may have prevented the killing of your child, your friend, your neighbor?
There just are not words to express the gratitude.
On Tuesday morning, tragedy struck a busy Caledonia gas station on Highway K when a man brutally shot and killed a 22-year-old from Elkhorn filling up his vehicle’s gas tank.
It was 7:30 in the morning, when any one of us could have been at that same station.
From there, after unsuccessfully trying to take the Elkhorn man’s car and another vehicle, the murderer went to another gas station. That was where he was met by a Racine County Sheriff’s Office deputy in plainclothes and an unmarked police car.
The two exchanged gunfire and ultimately, the man shot himself in the head, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, which is investigating the incident.
What would have happened if the deputy, whose identity has not been disclosed, wasn’t there? It’s difficult to say because, honestly, it’s hard to think about. But, almost undoubtedly, more people would have been shot and/or killed as the man continued his rampage.
When individuals are sworn in as law enforcement officials, they swear to protect and serve the community. That is what this plainclothes deputy did on Tuesday, when he ultimately helped end the threat to the community.
On June 17, 2019, Racine Police Officer John Hetland was shot and killed when he attempted to stop an armed robbery at Teezers Bar and Grill in Racine.
The actions of Hetland and the sheriff’s deputy show bravery and willingness to respond and do what is needed to protect others. It’s a blessing that the deputy was not killed when he was shot at and it’s a blessing that he was at the gas station at the time he was.
Nothing will bring back Anthony Griger, the 22-year-old from Elkhorn who was killed.
But if it wasn’t for the deputy’s quick action, likely the killer would have gotten away and it’s frightening to think what other casualties could have happened.
To that deputy, and to all the others who courageously serve every day just like him — thank you.
Thank you for protecting us.