MILWAUKEE — Authorities say two off-duty police officers were killed in separate incidents in southeastern Wisconsin, including a Racine officer who jumped over a bar to try to stop an armed robbery at a tavern and a Milwaukee officer who was struck and killed by a speeding driver who ran a red light.
Law enforcement officers stood silently, shoulder to shoulder, and saluted as the victims' bodies arrived in hearses for autopsies Tuesday morning at the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office.
Racine police officer John Hetland was fatally shot about 9:40 p.m. Monday when he tried to intervene in an armed robbery at Teezers Bar and Grill, Chief Arthel Howell said in a statement. In a news conference Tuesday, authorities said Hetland jumped over the bar and confronted a masked, armed man. Hetland, a 24-year veteran of the Racine Police Department, was shot during a struggle, they said.
"We know that one person gave his life so everybody else would be safe," Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said of Hetland.
The sheriff said Hetland had gone to the tavern to grab food with a friend, and it's not known whether Hetland was armed or had identified himself as a police officer.
Multiple law enforcement agencies searched for the gunman Tuesday. A total of $27,000 in reward money is being offered, including $20,000 from the FBI.
"Officer Hetland was a trusted and highly respected member of the department, serving in various positions over the years, including an assignment as a field training officer, as well as a member of the Greater Racine FBI Gang Task," Chief Howell said.
D.J. Daams, one of the bar's owners, said police are reviewing surveillance video.
"All I can say is that thoughts and prayers are with the family and that the police have our full cooperation in apprehending this guy," Daams said. "This is a truest heartbreaking situation and John was a hero. If it wasn't for his heroic act no one can predict the outcome."
In Milwaukee, Chief Alfonso Morales said Officer Kou Her died early Tuesday after leaving work in the city's 4th District. Her's vehicle was struck by a speeding driver who ran a red light about 1:30 a.m. at a west-side intersection, Morales said.
Police arrested a 34-year-old Milwaukee man who was on probation for his fourth drunken-driving conviction.
Alderman Cavalier Johnson, who represents the neighborhood where the crash occurred, said: "I am actually kind of sick to my stomach. That's an intersection I travel through and that my family travels through. It's sad, it's tragic and it's unnecessary. The Milwaukee Police Department has sacrificed so much."
The 27-year-old Her, who had been with the department for two years, is the fourth Milwaukee police officer to be killed in just over a year.