KIEL (WITI) -- Thousands filled the small town of Kiel, Wisconsin on Sunday, March 29th to say goodbye to Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper Trevor Casper. The 21-year-old is the youngest law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty in Wisconsin history. He lost his life last Tuesday, March 24th during a shootout with a bank robbery suspect in Fond du Lac.
Funeral services were held on Sunday evening at Kiel High School after Casper's family members greeted loved ones at the high school starting at noon.
There are tributes to Trevor Casper throughout Kiel -- billboards offering condolences, flags at half-staff, small blue flags lining the roads and house lights glowing blue. Even the street lights have been replaced with blue bulbs.
Trevor Casper graduated from Kiel High School in 2011, where he was a wrestler and played soccer. Kiel is a town of just 3,700 people, but an entire nation is mourning the loss of Trevor Casper.
The cold, rainy weather Sunday fit the mood as folks filed into Kiel High School to pay their respects.
"Just to show support from my school, tell the family that they are in our thoughts and prayers," one person said.
Casper graduated from Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wisconsin in May 2014. Tuesday -- the day Trooper Casper lost his life was actually his first solo day on the job as a Wisconsin State Patrol trooper. He graduated from the Wisconsin State Patrol Academy in December 2014.
"He was an excellent officer and very, very proud of what he achieved in the short time he was with the patrol. It doesn`t make any difference if you`ve been here 20 years, or if you`ve been here two minutes -- it`s still the same and you`re still part of our organization," Steve Fitzgerald said.
Retired Calumet County Sheriff Kelly Sippel was back in uniform on Sunday directing traffic. Sippel has worn a badge some 33 years -- a far cry from the young officer he remembered Sunday.
"I guess I was fortunate enough to be here for a long time and it`s just sad that a man who was just starting out his life in law enforcement and his service to the community and it was cut short," Sippel said.
Inside Kiel High School's gymnasium, speakers, including Governor Scott Walker called Casper a hero and one of Wisconsin's finest. They say Casper understood from an early age the meaning of the words "to serve and protect."
In addition to paying their respects at Casper's funeral Sunday, folks put out blue lights Sunday in his honor.
"How do you comprehend what any of these guys do? I mean, God bless them," Darrin Matthies said.
Many of those who were in Kiel on Sunday say they're keeping Casper's family in their prayers, as they know it will take quite a bit of time to come to terms with such a tragic loss.
"The Casper family I have know for many years growing up here in Kiel -- all the boys and the family -- the extended family. This is the community reaching out pretty much," Matthies said.
On Monday, a Wisconsin State Patrol procession will guide Casper's family to Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery for a private burial.
The parents of Wisconsin State Trooper Trevor released a statement on Wednesday, March 25th related to the fatal shooting of their son. They said the following:
“We wish to thank our family, friends, co-workers, and all of the law enforcement officers across the United States who grieve with our family during this time of horrific loss. Our son Trevor was an amazing young man who from a young age would do anything to help anyone. It did not surprise us when he selected a career in law enforcement. Even as a young child he was always helping others. Trevor had a soft and good heart. He truly believed his sole purpose in life was to serve and protect others. When we asked Trevor if he was ready for his career as a Wisconsin State Trooper, Trevor proudly told us that he was ‘born ready to do this job.’ Trevor was so very proud of his career as a Wisconsin State Trooper. As a family we are so deeply honored that our son served as a law enforcement officer with the Wisconsin State Patrol and we share in their grief and loss. We are so deeply saddened by this loss and wish to thank everyone who has assisted us during this time. We ask that you please allow us time as a family to grieve and respect our privacy.”
Kevin and Debbie Casper
More than $34,000 has been raised in a fundraising campaign established to support Trevor Casper's family.
Governor Scott Walker attended Sunday's funeral services and offered these remarks:
"On behalf of the State of Wisconsin, I want to offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Trooper Trevor Casper. And on a personal level, Tonette and I offer our prayers, today and in the days to come, to Trooper Casper's parents Kevin and Deborah, his sisters Lauren and Olivia, his grandmother and grandfather, his dear friend Brittany, and to all of his other family and friends. Thank you for sharing Trevor with us all.
We also offer our prayers to his extended family in the Wisconsin State Patrol, and to law enforcement officials all across this state and around the country. There are representatives from nearly every state here today. We mourn with you - and we thank God every day for men and women like Trevor who are willing to serve.
Flags across this state fly at half-staff - both as a sign of respect to the family, friends and co-workers of Trooper Casper, and also as a symbol of our collective sorrow here in Wisconsin in losing one of our finest.
Trevor Casper was born ready to do this job. We heard that time and time again this week - from his parents, from the police chief here in town, from his classmates at the academy.
As Kiel Police Chief Dave Funkhauser told my office earlier this week, Trevor understood the importance of "protect and serve" at an early age. He said that Trooper Casper had all of the attributes he would want of his own officers. He said you could talk to anyone in Kiel and they would tell you that Trevor was true, and real, and good.
Zac Bohlman went through the academy with Trevor and told us of how excited Trooper Casper was to be at the academy. He said that they had just had a conversation about how they both loved the Fond du Lac area and their work.
Chris Reyna also went to the academy with Trevor. Chris spent more than two decades in the United States Military and so he was the oldest in the class. Trevor was the youngest, yet they bonded.
Chris told us that he asked Trevor on the second day of the academy if he was ready for this and Trevor said, "I was born ready."
Chris said that he respected how focused and committed Trevor was to protect and serve. As Chris said, Trevor was wise beyond his years.
Kyle Dudek roomed with Trevor at the academy and got to know him as a positive force in the crowd. If anyone was struggling, he said Trevor was there to cheer them up. The two hit it off as they were both excited to serve in the state patrol and they both shared a love for hunting, fishing and wrestling.
Kyle said he spoke with Trevor about their training and how they would act when facing dangerous situations. Kyle said that Trevor was unwavering in his commitment to uphold his oath and eliminate the threat to protect others, even though it would mean putting his own life in danger.
That is exactly what Trooper Trevor Casper was doing on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. He was doing what he was trained to do. He was eliminating the threat. He was showing what it means to protect and serve. He was doing what he was born to do."