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‘A true professional:’ Officer Rittner received Medal of Valor for freeing hostages from gunman

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Milwaukee Police Officer Matthew Rittner

MILWAUKEE — Police on Thursday, Feb. 7 continued to collect evidence at the home near 12th and Manitoba where Milwaukee Police Officer Matthew Rittner, 35, was shot on Wednesday morning while MPD's Tactical Enforcement Unit served a search warrant for the illegal sale of firearms and drugs. Officer Rittner, a 17-year veteran of the department, died at the hospital. Jordan Fricke, 26, was arrested after police said he fired several rounds.

Officer Rittner began his career with MPD as a police aide in 2001. He was also a Marine Corps veteran. His dedication to his community and country was often recognized.

During the Milwaukee Police Department's Spring Merit Awards ceremony in 2016, Officer Rittner received the Medal of Valor and an award for meritorious service for his work as part of the Tactical Enforcement Unit. The Medal of Valor was for a 2015 incident where he helped free hostages from a gunman at 76th and Townsend.

Officer Rittner honored for helping free hostages near 76th and Townsend

Officer Rittner honored for helping free hostages near 76th and Townsend

"Officers were making decisions in seconds that literally had life and death consequences," said Ed Flynn, former Milwaukee police chief.

Milwaukee Police Officer Matthew Rittner at Lambeau Field

That wasn't the only time Officer Rittner showed his courage. As a member of the Marine Corps, he served two tours in Iraq. A former Marine helped grant his wish for a trip to Lambeau in 2007, prior to his second tour of duty.

"I threw it out there. Maybe we'd get some tickets, and it came true," said Rittner at Lambeau Field. "Marines are always taking care of Marines. That's what they always say."

It was a way to say "thank you" to Rittner for his service to our country.

"We lost a great human being, a true professional -- and we're going to miss him," said Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales.

Memorial for Police Officer Matthew Rittner

During the 2016 Spring Merit Awards ceremony, Officer Rittner was in the audience when this request was made:

"Look at the wall of fallen officers and appreciate the ultimate sacrifice they gave for this job, for our city, for our community," said Nicole Davila, police captain.

Officer Rittner made the ultimate sacrifice Wednesday morning at 12th and Manitoba. He left behind a wife and young son, and passed away a week shy of his 36th birthday.

Rittner's autopsy was expected to be completed Thursday.

Rittner was the third Milwaukee police officer killed on the job in eight months. The department had previously gone more than two decades (22 years) without a line-of-duty death.

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