MILWAUKEE -- A fundraiser was held Saturday, Feb. 22 -- more than a year after Milwaukee Police Officer Matthew Rittner lost his life in the line of duty. Money was raised to send the fallen officer's family and co-workers to the nation's capital during National Police Week in May.
"We don't ever want to forget, so today is a way of remembering," said Lt. Erik Gulbrandson of the Milwaukee Police Department.
First responders headed to Doc's Smokehouse in Milwaukee for a fundraiser that hit hard for officers.
"We're using the money to send co-workers, family members of Matthew Rittner out to Washington D.C. in May, where his name is going to be added to the law enforcement memorial wall," said Dale Bormann, Milwaukee Police Association president.
The event was held to raise money for the Milwaukee Police Association's "Fallen Heroes Fund."
Officer Rittner was shot as he and other officers executed a search warrant near 12th Street and Manitoba Street on Feb. 6, 2019. He died at the hospital.
Jordan Fricke was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in October 2019. Fricke was convicted by a jury in July 2019 on four counts -- first-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, first-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon (two counts), and maintaining a drug trafficking place.
During the execution of the search warrant for illegal drug and gun sales, Fricke shot through the door, striking the former Marine.
The defense argued Fricke was remorseful -- that he was trying to defend himself -- that he did not know police were at the door. Prosecutors disagreed, saying officers repeatedly identified themselves.
Officer Rittner was the third MPD officer to die in the line of duty in eight months.
"This event also provides counseling for the officers that have been dealing with it for over a year, and just, hopefully, we can get a little closure behind us," said Gulbrandson.
The goal was to raise more than $20,000 to send a group of about 130 to Washington, D.C. in May.
"It'll cover all of their expenses, flights, meals, hotel rooms," said Brian Atkinson with Doc's Smokehouse.
The fundraiser included raffle prizes, auction items, and food and drink specials.
"I just want to thank everybody," said Gulbrandson. "It's been an outpouring of support for the last year and a half."
If you could not make it to the fundraiser but would like to donate to the Milwaukee Police Association (MPA) has a fund dedicated to assisting law enforcement officers in the event of serious injury or death. The fund, named “The Milwaukee Police Association Fallen Heroes, Inc.” is a registered 501(c)(3). All donations are tax-deductible. Donations can be directed to specific fallen officer’s families by including a note with your donation.
IMPORTANT: Checks can be mailed to the MPA office or cash dropped off in person. The fund is administered by the MPA at the address just below. Make checks payable to:
Milwaukee Police Association Fallen Heroes, Inc.
6310 W. Bluemound Rd.
Milwaukee, WI 53213