Police officer Matthew Rittner, 35, was killed in the line of duty on Feb. 6, 2019.
(Milwaukee Police Department)
When Wisconsin waitress Stephanie Wengel saw a customer wearing a shirt with a thin blue line flag on, she felt compelled to ask the woman if she was a police officer.
The woman attached herself and her husband, who was sitting next to her with their children, were officers. Wengel, a waitress in a Milwaukee Cheesecake Factory, it is difficult to find the right words to say to the officials — just days after one of their own, 35-year-old Matthew Rittner, was killed on duty.
“All I said was: ‘Thank you,'” she recalled to WJDT.
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Rittner, a 17-year veteran of the force, was killed during a raid on a Milwaukee man’s home. The officer was a part of the tactical unit trying to serve a warrant to search the house for illegal drugs and weapons on Feb. 6 when he was fatally shot in the chest.
He was the third Milwaukee officer killed in the line of duty in eight months. The ministry had previously gone more than two decades without such a death.
“I will always back the blue.”
— Stephanie Wengel
“This was such an unfortunate event that really didn’t have to happen,” Wengel told the news station.
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Its support for the Milwaukee Police Department and the officers in the entire country, Wengel decided to give the couple a note.
“Dear officers, I can’t understand what you’re going through. I want you to know] that [you] loved, and despite the situation that happened, I will always go back to the blue,” Wengel wrote, according to WJDT.
Touched by the waitress’ sweet gesture, the couple decided to contact Wengel the manager to say that they were “very grateful.”
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“I can’t imagine that the experience of one of their funerals … I don’t think they get enough recognition,” Wengel said, adding her father is a retired firefighter.
Jordan P. Fricke, 26, is charged with first-degree intentional murder and other crimes in the fatal shooting of Rittner. A $1 million cash bond was set Sunday for Fricke, who remained in the prison.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.