"An amazing young man:" Trevor Casper, trooper killed in confrontation was Kiel native

KIEL (WITI/AP) — A Wisconsin State Patrol trooper who was killed in a confrontation with a bank robbery suspect in Fond du Lac was a Kiel native who was active in high school sports and once made the prom court. He was a 2014 graduate of Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wisconsin.

Trevor Casper

Trevor Casper was just 21 years old, and three months out of the Wisconsin State Patrol's training academy before Tuesday night's shootout in Fond du Lac. Authorities say both Casper and the suspect died.

Wisconsin State Patrol officials during a Wednesday afternoon news conference said Tuesday was Casper's first solo day on the job. They say his response to the crime before him was “absolutely textbook.”

Casper is the youngest law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in Wisconsin history. He is the sixth Wisconsin State Patrol trooper to die on the job. 1972 was the last time a Wisconsin State Patrol trooper was killed by gunfire.

In the small town of Kiel, about 30 miles northeast of Fond du Lac, Casper graduated from high school in 2011. Superintendent Louise Blankenheim says he was a varsity wrestler and soccer player -- also involved in the German Club. Classmates voted him "best person for advise."

"That doesn`t surprise me. It shows the true nature of a person and that`s what we look for in law enforcement officers," Kiel Police Chief Dave Funkhouser said.

Those who knew and loved Casper say he knew for years he wanted to be in law enforcement. He received his Wisconsin State Patrol badge in December 2014 -- graduating as part of the State Patrol's "60th Recruit Class."

As you head into Kiel, a sign reads: "The little city that does big things." Those who knew Casper say the slogan embodies who Casper was.

"Trevor knew he wanted to be a police officer well into his high school years. His guidance counselor shared with me that he knew this was something he wanted to do," Kiel School District Administrator Louise Blankenheim said.

Blankenheim says it is an extremely sensitive time for school officials in Kiel. Casper's younger sister is a student at the high school.

"He still has a lot of friends at the high school, so we make sure that we have a list of those students who are close to the family and then we reach out to those students," Blankenheim said.

Casper was a recent graduate of Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wisconsin. Those who knew him there say he was above and beyond the average student. They, like many others, are remembering him as a hero.

"We were devastated. It really, really hurt," Lakeshore Technical College Criminal Justice Coordinator Lou Richard said.

"It hurt.  It hurt through the division. He truly is a hero for serving and doing what he did. We were fortunate we were able to help him get the career dream job that he wanted and it's just unfortunate that his career ended sooner than it needed to," Lakeshore Technical College Dean of Public Safety Ryan Skabroud said.

Casper graduated from Lakeshore Technical College with honors in May of 2014 -- earning a degree in criminal justice.

"Trevor did his job, and he did it well. This was his dream job -- getting a job with the Wisconsin State Patrol.  We weren't surprised that he got on and we knew he would be successful. He sacrificed his life to stop a bank robber. He did it right," Richard said.

Kiel Police Chief Dave Funkhouser has known the Casper family for years, and he is now serving as the family's spokesman. Through Chief Funkhouser Wednesday, Casper's parents released the following statement:

“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
Trevor’s parents

"This hurts deep. It hurts us deeply. (Trevor's parents) were very proud of him, and he was very honored to be a trooper. He really, truly was," Chief Funkhouser said.

In Kiel and Fond du Lac, flags were at half-staff. Flowers were left at the northeast region patrol headquarters where Casper was based.

Funkhouser says the family is still in the planning stages as it relates to services for Casper -- but services will involve a full law enforcement procession. He says he expects to see squad cars from across the country paying tribute to Casper.

A Facebook event has been set for Sunday, March 29th. It encourages homeowners to shine a light in memory of Trooper Casper. CLICK HERE to learn more about this effort.

Gov. Scott Walker released the following statement regarding Trooper Casper:

"Trooper Trevor Casper was killed while bravely serving his community and doing his duty to keep our citizens safe.  Tonette and I are praying for Trooper Casper's family and our thoughts are with them and the broader law enforcement community at this difficult time."

Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb issued the following statement:

"At the Wisconsin Department of Transportation we are grieving the loss of Trooper Trevor Casper. Trooper Casper was among the group of brave men and women in the Division of State Patrol who put themselves in dangerous situations each day as they work to keep the people of Wisconsin safe. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."

CLICK HERE to access a GoFundMe page established in Trooper Casper's honor.