'Total hero:' Bar patrons honor fallen Officer Hetland at Teezers following fatal shooting

RACINE -- A reward for information about the man who shot and killed Racine Police Officer John Hetland has surpassed $50,000. As donations continued to pour in Friday, June 21, the community made their way back to the bar where it all began.

Teezers Bar reopened to the public on Friday for the first time since the fatal shooting on Monday night, June 17, and one thing was clear -- the community has stepped up. They have not only supported Officer Hetland's family and the Racine Police Department -- they have also comforted each other.

Teezers Bar

Gretchen Meitner

As a permanent tribute to the fallen hero, nailed into the wall of Teezers Bar is badge number 1928. It belongs to Officer John Hetland.

"He's a hero," said Gretchen Meitner, a Teezers patron. "He's just a total hero. Racine will pull together."

Outside, Hetland's photo drapes the entrance near a memorial that's formed in his honor.

"Shocking, overwhelming," said Kris Kaestner, manager of Dickie's, a nearby bar.

Teezers is where the 24-year veteran's watch tragically ended on Monday night, when he intervened during an attempted armed robbery. For Meitner, she says this tragedy hits close to home.

Remembering Officer Hetland at Teezers

Kris Kaestner

"I called my son right away, who is a police officer lieutenant," said Meitner.

Meitner's son works in Minnesota.

"I cried when he answered," said Meitner. "He cried with me."

She says she wanted to be at Teezers on Friday to show support for the community and back the badge.

"It's sad that a life got taken because of this," said Kaestner.

Kaestner's bar, Dickie's, closed its doors on Friday and encouraged patrons to visit Teezers.

Remembering Officer Hetland at Teezers

Remembering Officer Hetland at Teezers

"Just to bring support and our love to this bar, to show them we're here to support them," said Kaestner.

It is support for a man who protected the people inside -- even when he was off the clock. A man whose badge number is taking over watch -- high above.

"I didn't know him personally, but everything I heard, he was just a wonderful guy himself," said Kaestner.

A prayer vigil will be held at Teezers Bar on Sunday at 6 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.

If you have any information regarding the identity of the suspect in this case, or any information regarding this crime, officials asked that you please contact Crime Stoppers at 888-636-9330262-656-7333 or (800) 807-TIPS (8477). You can remain anonymous.

A fundraising account in support of Officer Hetland was created by the Racine Police Department. CLICK HERE to learn more.