HUNTLEY — Dozens of American flags waved in the chilly air Tuesday afternoon as hundreds of mourners visited a Huntley funeral home to pay their respects to McHenry County sheriff's Deputy Jacob Keltner.
Keltner, 35, a married father of two young boys, was killed in the line of duty last week as part of a team that was serving a warrant on a fugitive in a Rockford hotel.
Police from all over the state as well as local citizens, many who did not know the fallen officer, attended the wake. People young and old waited patiently outside in a long and growing line to enter the DeFiore Funeral Home.
Ileana Cecere, 82, of Huntley, said she attended because she saw the story of his death on television and was "heartbroken."
"I said, 'I got to see this guy,'" said Cecere, who added that her own grandson is a police officer in Schaumburg and her son is a retired member of the Secret Service. "It's so frustrating. He is so young. I hope God blesses this beautiful family."
Cecere said the inside of the funeral home was "outstanding," beautifully adorned with flowers, and his wife and family were "gorgeous."
Marnell and David Villarreal walked to the funeral home from their home around the corner. They said they didn't know the deputy but wanted to pay their respects.
"It's sad, very sad," David Villarreal said. "Somebody lost their father, their husband. Somebody lost a son."
Keltner was a member of the U.S. marshals task force that was seeking to capture Floyd Brown when Brown dropped out of a third-floor window, shot the deputy, then fled.
After a high-speed chase through southern Illinois and an hourslong standoff, Brown was captured. He is currently in the Winnebago County jail and due back in court March 20. He is charged with local and federal first-degree murder. If convicted, he faces the death penalty, authorities have said.
Keltner, who died from his injuries hours after being shot, is described by his wife and colleagues as funny, smart, kind, a man who loved his family and was a great cop.
Because of limited parking Tuesday, shuttle buses transported many mourners between two off-site parking locations and the funeral home.
Volunteers from the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago were on hand with water, coffee, hot cocoa and tissues, all donated by local businesses.
"We're here to support law enforcement and be a part of the community response," said Jackie Speciale from Woodstock. "We all agreed, as a team that's our mission."
Also in attendance to support the family and law enforcement was David Gier, senior ride captain of the North East Illinois Patriot Guard.
Gier said he is there "to give Deputy Keltner all the honor and all the respect he has earned and definitely deserves."
He said he and his fellow riders were invited by the family.
"If we are invited we come, if we are not invited we don't come," Gier said. "It is a great honor, only wish that we didn't have to be here."
Funeral services for Keltner will be Wednesday morning at Woodstock North High School in Woodstock.
Donations for the Keltner family are being accepted at the McHenry County sheriff's office, 220 N. Seminary Ave. in Woodstock, Ill., 60098, and the DeFiore Funeral Home,10763 Dundee Road, Huntley, Ill., 60142. Checks may be made out to Becki Keltner, according to McHenry County authorities.
A charitable organization has established a fundraiser meant to pay off the family's mortgage. The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, established in the name of a firefighter who gave his life on Sept. 11, 2001, asked on its website for donations to support the family.