Hundreds attend visitation for fallen McHenry County deputy
Hundreds of uniformed police officers paid their respects to McHenry County Deputy Jacob Keltner Tuesday, who was killed in the line of duty last week.
For more than 30 minutes, a steady stream of uniformed officers entered the DeFiore Funeral Home in Huntley. They walked past Keltner's wife and two young children and up to Keltner's casket. Some gave a salute, and others made the sign of the cross before filing back out into the chilly twilight.
"We're able to show them that on the worst day of their life that they are loved and supported not just by their community but by the law enforcement community," McHenry police officer Brian Aalto said.
Aalto served as one of 11 members of the McHenry County Chief's Honor Guard, a group he said includes officers from as far away as New York City and Colorado. He said it has been easy to get support from neighboring departments.
"It really is a brotherhood that extends across state borders," Aalto said. "All we've heard the last four days is 'What do you need?'"
Beyond the masses of law enforcement officers, hundreds of community members formed their own line to the right of the funeral home door. Some waited more than two hours to pay their respects.
"It's the right thing to do," Huntley resident Joe Cuellar said. "It's an amazing display of unity. It's a shame that it takes something like this to bring everybody together."
Keltner, 35, from Crystal Lake, died Thursday while trying to serve an arrest warrant at a hotel in Rockford as part of a U.S. Marshals team. Authorities say Floyd E. Brown, 39, of Springfield shot Keltner and later was apprehended after a six-hour standoff downstate along Interstate 55.
Pritzker has ordered that all U.S. and Illinois flags fly at half-staff at state facilities until sunset Wednesday. The governor attended the visitation but did not address the media Tuesday night, and reporters were asked to stay off the funeral home grounds.
As large as the show of support was for the visitation, it is likely to pale in comparison to the funeral procession planned for Wednesday.
The funeral will be Wednesday at Woodstock North High School, 3000 Raffel Road in Woodstock. Only first responders can park at the school. Doors will open at 8 a.m.; priority seating will go to law enforcement, then to other first responders. The funeral will start at 10 a.m.
Parking is available at Merryman Field, about a quarter-mile south of the school.
The service will be followed by a procession for law enforcement and emergency vehicles. The McHenry County sheriff's office issued a statement Monday encouraging the public to line the official procession route to honor Keltner.
The procession will leave Woodstock North High School going north, or right, on Raffel Road; then west, or left, on Charles Road; south, or left, on Route 47; southeast, or left, on Route 14; south, or right, on Route 31; west, or right, on James R. Rakow Road, which turns into Randall Road; west, or right, on Algonquin Road; south, or left, on Ruth Road; south, or left, on Dundee Road; ending at DeFiore Funeral Home, where Keltner's body will be cremated.
The public also is encouraged to leave notes and flowers on a sheriff's squad car dedicated to Keltner and parked on the east side of the sheriff's office at the McHenry County Government Center, 2200 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock.