Local

Procession for McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Keltner ends in Huntley

Keltner was shot and killed Thursday in Rockford

McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Jacob Keltner was shot and killed March 7 while attempting to serve a warrant to a fugitive at a Rockford hotel.

His funeral took place at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Woodstock North High School.

A live stream of the service was broadcasted and the Northwest Herald has live updates from the ceremony below. This story will be updated throughout the day.

A procession of law enforcement and emergency vehicles will start following the funeral. The procession is anticipated to start about 12:30 p.m. in Woodstock and travel through Crystal Lake to Huntley.

3:18 p.m.: The procession has ended and Ruth and Dundee roads have reopened, Huntley police said.

2:48 p.m.: Kane County Undersheriff Pat Gengler said the front of the procession has reached DeFiore Funeral Home in Huntley. Sheriff's office squad cars have started to head back toward Woodstock, he said.

2:45 p.m.: Procession vehicles continue to roll down Algonquin Road, near Square Barn Road, in Algonquin.

2:39 p.m.: The last vehicle in the procession has passed the Northwest Herald office.

2:13 p.m.: The front of the procession is passing the area near Morningside Family Dental, 290 Randall Road in Lake in the Hills. Law enforcement vehicles continue to drive by the Northwest Herald office.

Kane County Undersheriff Pat Gengler said 700 cars are in Keltner’s procession to the funeral home in Huntley, the Rockford Register Star reports. The group is estimated to arrive there at 3 p.m., driving 20 mph. Keltner’s burial will be private.

1:56 p.m. The procession is passing by the Northwest Herald office, 7717 S. Route 31.

1:48 p.m.: The procession is starting to pass by Julie Ann’s Frozen Custard, 6500 Route 14, in Crystal Lake.

1:40 p.m.: The procession has passed Golden Eagle Bank, 7910 Route 14, in Crystal Lake, just south of McHenry County College.

1:21 p.m. The procession has turned onto Route 14 from Route 47.

1:07 p.m. The procession is passing the McHenry County Courthouse, 2200 Seminary Avenue in Woodstock

People are standing outside the courthouse with American flags and signs. One sign reads “we will miss you.”

12:57 p.m.: The procession has begun. The hearse carrying Deputy Keltner has left Woodstock North High School.

12:28 p.m.: Deputy Keltner’s coffin is carried out of the high school. Law enforcement officers and other mourners are lining its path.

12:20 p.m.: People continue to file out of the high school.

11:55 a.m.: Law enforcement officials are filing out into the Woodstock North High School parking lot. The procession is estimated to start at 12:30 p.m.

11:10 a.m.: Rev. Koenig delivered the message after remembrances had concluded.

“This is the last place any of us want to be today,” he said. “There are no words that can quickly heal our broken hearts. There is no music that can fully soothe our hurting spirits. There are no acts of kindness that can instantly make this better.”

But that is exactly how the healing will begin to take place, he said.

Already recognized as a fierce and courageous law enforcement officer, Koenig shed more light on who Keltner was as a person.

“We remember Jake in a wider sense,” he said. “As husband and son, a father and brother, a friend and neighbor.”

Keltner was the oldest of three brothers, and his father was also in law enforcement. He wanted to become either a solider or police officer since he was young and ultimately served in the United States Army before his work as a sheriff’s deputy.

He was an artist who drew his own tattoos, he challenged the people around him to try new things, and was a “baby whisperer” who could calm crying infants and rowdy toddlers like no one else, Koenig said.

“In this line of work you have to develop a tough shell,” Koenig said. “But when he got home, he did his best to hang that shell on the coat rack and engage with the boys and Becki with a tender heart.”

As recently as the week before he died, he had built zip lines for his sons in the basement and had their toys “zipping all around” like hot wheel tracks in the air.

The pastor encourage Keltner’s sons to ask for help in the future, and remember that their father loved them.

“We aren’t heroes because of how we die,” he said. “We are heroes because of how we live. Jake lived it.”

The funeral is ending as “On Eagles Wings” plays.

11 a.m.: “We will forever cherish his friendship and memory,” Penna said. “This is a tragic and devastating day.”

Penna told Keltner’s wife, Becki, to trust in “the Lord, your family and the ’thin blue line."

Urgo remembered a “cold dark morning” in a back alley in Zion, heading to Waukegan on a Friday afternoon with “literally no end in sight” as the force responded to assignments and “countless hours” of firearm training, medical equipment training, combat and emergency drills, and physical fitness training.

“We were prepared for what could have happened,” Urgo said. “I wish that day didn’t happen. I am deeply saddened by the tragedy, and we are humbled to stand before you on this day that shouldn’t have happened.”

10:45 a.m.: Rev. Sharon Rogers led a prayer prior to the remembrances.

McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim said that life is a gift. Even though Keltner’s was cut short, it was not wasted.

“Our lives, whether we like it or not, have a ripple effect on those around us,” Prim said. “Jake Keltner created not just a ripple but a wave of goodness and light. That is all we can hope to achieve in life.”

Keltner's’s partners on the fugitive task force Tony Penna and Mike Urgo praised Keltner’s determination, work ethic, wit and bravery.

Penna fought tears as he spoke to the crowd and expressed his love for the Keltner family.

“We have seen some stuff together,” he said of his work on the task force with Keltner. “I can tell you there was no better fugitive investigator or police officer better than Jake.”

Keltner had the “most recognizable,” gregarious belly laugh that Penna has ever heard, he said.

10:15 a.m.: Police officers carried up an American flag-draped casket holding the body of the fallen deputy as the funeral began.

Pictures of Keltner with his wife and two young boys are displayed at the front of the room.

Rev. Koenig thanked attendees for supporting the family “in their time of loss and grief" before the music began.

10:10 a.m.: The funeral has begun.

People are in the high school for the funeral as the processional plays.

First responders and police officers from across Illinois are in attendance including officers from McHenry County Sheriff's Office, Loves Park, Rockford, Belvidere, Carol Stream, Beloit, Cary, Schiller Park police departments; Illinois State Police; Lake, Boone, Cook and DuPage county sheriff's departments, among others.

Rev. Kendall Koenig, a senior pastor with Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Algonquin will open the ceremony and a rendition of "Amazing Grace" will follow.

McHenry County Sheriff's Bill Prim and officers from the U.S Marshall's Service Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force are expected to speak at the ceremony, according to a program.

Loading more

Digital Access

Digital Access
Access nwherald.com from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, weekend and Sunday packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Stay connected to us wherever you are! Get breaking news updates along with other area information sent to you as a text message to your wireless device.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Plan your weekend and catch up on the news with our newsletters.