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. March 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 morning, crowds lined the perimeter of Dundee Road in a somber display of support and respect as the hearse carrying his body left the DeFiore Funeral Home with an honor guard for the high school.
Keltner was killed during a March 7 effort to serve an arrest warrant at a Rockford motel with other members of a U.S. Federal Marshal’s task force. The action hit home for McHenry County in losing not only deputy police officer but a member of the community.
A flag-draped casket was escorted into the school by law enforcement officers, just after 10 a.m., and the Rev. Kendall Koenig, the senior pastor of Algonquin’s Light of Christ Lutheran Church opened the service.
“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.”
Koenig also related that in the last week of his life, Keltner had designed and constructed zip lines in his basement, and the children’s toys flying all around the area as if on “Hot wheels tracks in the air.”
Other testimonial words came from colleagues, including McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim.
“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.
Task force member, Tony Penna, held back tears, and in a cracking voice, said, “We have seen some stuff together … there was no better investigator or police officer than Jake. He has the most recognizable belly laugh (I’ve) ever heard. “
Mike Urgo, another task force member, recounted the hours of firearms and medical training, as well as other procedural training they had both undertaken. “We were prepared for what could happen … I wish that day never happened,” he said. “I am deeply saddened … and humbled to stand before you on this day that shouldn’t have happened.”
Keltner’s background was further noted by Koenig, following the other speakers.
His father was in law enforcement, and he was the oldest of three brothers, with one brother currently serving with the DuPage County Sheriff’s Department.
Keltner served with the United States Army before joining the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department.
The services concluded around noon, with the county sheriff’s social media page announcing preparations for the final ride being underway. The sound of tires on wet, rainy pavement was accompanied by cheers and applause from the community, as the caravan turned out onto Raffel Road and making a circuitous route past the Huntley funeral home. The cemetery and interment services were private, and for the family only.
Floyd Brown, 39, of Springfield, the suspect in Keltner’s shooting, was arraigned March 11, in Rockford’s federal court, on first-degree murder charges and other felony counts involving the illegal use of a firearm. He was brought before Northern District of Illinois Magistrate Judge Iain Johnston in a wheelchair, due to injuries incurred when his car was forced into a culvert near Lincoln, Ill.
Authorities say Brown jumped from a third-story window at a Rockford motel, after firing a weapon through the door, as federal officers attempted to serve him with an arrest warrant. In the parking lot, he encountered Keltner, who suffered a head wound, and escaped. His vehicle was later spotted by Illinois State Police in McLean County, where he was apprehended at the end of a six-hour standoff.