Slain Racine Police Officer John Hetland was laid to rest Wednesday, escorted by hundreds police officers.
After a private funeral service at Carthage College, an outdoor committal ceremony took place outside the college’s Siebert Chapel, overlooking Lake Michigan.
Just after 12:15 p.m., family, friends, colleagues, members of the public and community leaders filed out of the chapel as a bagpipe outfit solemnly played a haunting rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
Hetland, a 24-year Racine Police Department veteran, was shot and killed the night of June 17 at Teezers Bar and Grill while trying to stop an armed robbery.
Although he was off-duty, his death is considered a line-of-duty fatality because he was performing actions consistent with his police duties.
He was the first Racine Police officer killed in the line of duty in more than four decades.
As the bagpipers played, hundreds of officers from various agencies and members of the public were lined up along the lakefront.
A group of six Racine Police officers carried Hetland’s casket, draped in an American flag, out as the rest of the officers stoically saluted.
All present stood in silence for about five minutes until a line of seven riflemen gave Hetland a 21-gun salute and a bugler performed taps, a piece traditionally played at military and law enforcement funerals.
After officers folded a flag and presented it to Hetland’s family, they put the officer’s casket into a hearse and Flight for Life performed a flyover.
Police then performed a last call for the officer, broadcast over the area police scanner.
“John, your watch has ended,” the dispatcher said. “We will take it from here. Godspeed.”
The funeral procession wound its way north through downtown Racine then west to West Lawn Cemetery and Hetland’s final resting place.