Racine, WI – Racine Police Officer John Hetland was murdered while intervening in an armed robbery on Monday night.
The incident occurred at approximately 9:40 p.m. at Teezer’s Tavern on Lathrop Avenue, The Journal Times reported.
The veteran officer was off-duty when he witnessed an armed attacker come into the bar with a bandanna tied around his face, WGN reported.
Officer Hetland sprang into action in an attempt to stop the suspect, but was fatally shot in the process.
Although Officer Hetland was off-duty when the fatal altercation occurred, the circumstances of his murder are considered to be a “line of duty death,” the RPD said, according to WGN.
The veteran officer “took immediate action to stop this felony in progress in order to protect life and property,” Racine Police Chief Arthel Howell said in a news release, according to the Journal Sentinel. “It is with profound sadness and grief that we announce the line of duty death.”
No arrests have been made, and police said they “are searching for the suspect,” WITI reported.
The Racine Police Department (RPD) instructed residents to remain indoors and to turn on the lights outside their homes.
“If you see anyone suspicious; do not confront them,” the department’s safety message read.
Police also asked citizens in the area to check their security camera systems to see if they captured footage of anyone fleeing the area or acting suspiciously.
The Racine County Sheriff’s Department, the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, the Wisconsin State Patrol, and the State of Wisconsin Crime Laboratory are handling the ongoing investigation, The Journal Times reported.
Officer Hetland served in a wide variety of positions during his 24-year career with the RPD, Chief Howell told the paper.
The trusted, highly-respected officer spent time working as a field training officer, and also served on the Greater Racine Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Task Force.
Officer Hetland leaves behind two children, as well as his parents, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Racine Police Officer John Hetland, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Officer John Hetland, your life mattered.