ST. FRANCIS -- There was an outpouring of support for the widow of fallen Milwaukee Police Officer Michael Michalski at Willow Glen Elementary School in St. Francis Sunday, Aug. 5, were Susan Michalski teaches. Hundreds of people came out to pay their respects and show this teacher that she is loved. The group tied more than 400 blue ribbons on a fence, many with hand-written messages of support.
"There's a whole city that is there for her," said Amy Braun-Gross, organizer.
Officer Michalski was shot on July 25 while searching for a wanted suspect near 28th and Wright -- where prosecutors say he was ambushed, shot in the head while ascending the stairs in a home in the area. He died at the hospital.
On Sunday night, a fence at his wife Susan's school was transformed.
"You know, I heard about this. It's a tragedy. We know Mrs. Michalski works here as a second grade teacher at Willow Glen," said Braun-Gross.
Parents of students at the school where Mrs. Michalski teaches wanted to send a message.
"The good outweighs the bad. We just have to keep that in mind," said Sabrina Craft.
They took more than 400 blue ribbons and tied them to the fence. Some, like 13-year-old Ireland Brickner, added personal messages.
"What I'm going to write on my ribbon here is 'we love the police. We support Milwaukee police officers,'" said Brickner.
In the same way Officer Michalski made an impact in the community as a police officer, these Willow Glen parents said Susan Michalski is making a difference at school.
"I will always remember her because he has severe autism. She's such a wonderful teacher. She treated him as though he was a neuro-typical child," said Braun-Gross.
To make this gathering even sweeter, an anonymous donor paid for free ice cream. That gesture and the sea of ribbons were appreciated by Kurt Saltzwadel.
"I've been a police officer for 12 years. I work at District 5. I've known Mike, and also, Susan taught my daughter this year in school," said Saltzwadel.
This effort capped a weekend of generosity to help support and raise money for the Michalski family. At Sobelman's, $1 from every burger sold on Saturday was given to the family. The Packing House raised $3,500 during their Friday fish fry, and those at Jen's Sweet Treats in Cudahy said Saturday they were closing in on a new goal -- a $12,500 donation.
"We want her to know we are here for her. We want to just wrap our arms around her and give her a hug," said Braun-Gross.
Money was collected at the school on Sunday night for the family.
Michael J. Michalski Memorial Fund
C/O Tri City National Bank
7525 W. Oklahoma Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53219