Memorial Service Gave Fitting Tribute to Slain Officer

Following a service that commemorated the life of McHenry County Deputy Sheriff Jacob Keltner, a procession of vehicles containing law enforcement and first responders representing Illinois and the country stepped off from the Woodstock High School parking lot around 12:30 p.m. Mar. 13. American flags and people lined the route through his hometown of Crystal Lake, and past the Huntley funeral home, where the day began.

Despite the chill and gray atmosphere of a rainy Mar. 13 morning, crowds lined the perimeter of Dundee Road in a somber display of support and respect. A hearse carrying the body of McHenry County Deputy Sheriff Jacob Keltner left the De Fiore Funeral Home in Huntley with an honor guard bound for a service at Woodstock High School. Just after 10:00 a.m., a flag-draped casket was escorted into the gymnasium by law enforcement officers.

The Rev. Kendall Koenig, senior pastor at Algonquin’s Light of Christ Lutheran Church opened the service, saying, “This is the last place any of us want to be today…we remember Jake in a wider sense, as a husband, and son, a father, and brother, a friend, and a neighbor.

“In this line of work, you have to develop a tough shell…but when he got home, he did his best to hang that shell on the coat rack, and engage with the boys (his two sons), and Becki (his wife) with a tender heart,” he said. “We aren’t heroes because of how we die, but because of how we lived…and Jake lived it.”

Keltner was killed the morning of Mar. 7, when he and other officers attached to the U.S. Marshals Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force surrounded the Rockford Extended Stay Motel to serve an arrest warrant on Floyd Brown, 39, of Springfield. Authorities allege Brown fired a weapon through the room door, jumped from a third-story window, and encountered Keltner in the parking lot.

The officer was shot and suffered a head wound, later succumbing to his injury at Rockford Mercy Health Javon Bea Hospital. Hours later, Brown was apprehended at the Lincoln-Lawndale exit in downstate Mc Lean County, after police forced his vehicle to crash in a culvert. He surrendered after a six-hour standoff, and was taken to a downstate hospital for wounds incurred from the accident.

The next day, dozens of law enforcement and first responders led a procession taking Keltner’s body from the Winnebago County Coroner’s Office to the De Fiore Funeral Home on Dundee Road in Huntley. The procession followed I-90 to Route 47 in Huntley, before turning to Dundee Road.XXXX The Marengo Fire Protection District joined with their Union- and Harvard-based counterparts and other agencies in lining the overpass of the I-90 Jane Addams Tollway, from Shattuck Road in Boone County, to Route 47 in Huntley, as a tribute coterie.

 “We were there about 90 minutes, it was a great tribute and send-off…well-deserved,” said John Kimmel, the Marengo District’s Assistant Fire Chief, when contacted. “The community’s response was overwhelming and says so much about McHenry County residents. What goes unsung and untold is something important. Law enforcement gets a bad rap these days, and they are out there, fulfilling their civic duty in serving the people.

“The procession was humbling and fitting… it was an honor for our fire protection district to be included, and along with the other fire protection districts, to be part of it,” he said.

 When the Mar. 13 memorial services concluded around noon, the sound of tires on wet, rainy pavement was accompanied by cheers and applause from the community. The caravan turned out of the school parking lot, and onto Raffel Road. The cemetery and interment services were private, and for the family, only.

Brown, in a wheelchair, was initially arraigned Mar. 11 before Northern District of Illinois Magistrate Judge Iain Johnston on federal first-degree murder charges and entered no plea. The federal charges, which supersede the pending state charges, came from Keltner being attached to a federal agency. If Brown is found guilty, it can lead to the death penalty. He pleaded not guilty at a Mar. 20 hearing, where additional felony charges involving the use of a firearm were entered.

The incident has hit home for McHenry County, losing not only a deputy police officer but a member of the community. At the service, Koenig related that during the last week of his life, Keltner had designed and constructed zip lines in his basement, as children’s toys were flying all around, “Hot wheels tracks in the air.”

County sheriff Bill Prim noted, “Our lives, whether we like it or not, have a ripple effect on those around us. (He) created not just a ripple effect, but a wave of light and goodness…and that is all we can hope to achieve in this life.