Northwestern Wisconsin turns out to honor police officers killed in weekend shootout

More than 1,000 residents and members of law enforcement attended a candlelight vigil for officers from the Chetek and Cameron police departments.

Group of people holds candles during vigil
More than 1,000 residents from northwestern Wisconsin hold up candles during a vigil for Chetek police officer Emily Breidenbach and Cameron police officer Hunter Scheel, on Wednesday, April 12, 2023. The two officers who were killed Saturday in a shootout with a suspect after a traffic stop.
Rich Kremer/WPR

CAMERON — Members of law enforcement and residents from northwestern Wisconsin gathered Wednesday evening to mourn two police officers killed in a shootout during a weekend traffic stop. More than 1,000 paid their respects during the vigil for 32-year-old Emily Breidenbach of the Chetek Police Department and 23-year-old Hunter Scheel of the Cameron Police Department.

The field outside the Mosaic Technologies building in Cameron was filling with people well before the vigil's start at 7 p.m. Wednesday. An impromptu stage was adorned with a large banner with pictures of the fallen officers as a massive American flag draped overhead from a fire truck's bucket flowed with the wind.

Chetek Police Chief Ron Amborzaitis fought back tears as he told the crowd "this is the worst time of my life."

"I have had fellow officers in the past pass away," Ambrozaitis said. "But this one is very personal. Emily Breidenbach was my kid. All my officers and my kids."

He recalled when Breidenbach submitted her application packet in 2019. He said it was then that he realized Emily's father was a former Chetek Police Chief.


"Her goal was to follow her father's footsteps," Ambrozaitis said. "And she was definitely on her way. Emily was the type of officer that, it didn't matter what you gave her, it was 100 percent or nothing at all. She proved it on April 8th, 2023 at 3:39 p.m. I want you all to know, including the family, she and Hunter fought back. And they saved a lot of people that day."

Scheel and Breidenbach were killed in a shootout with 50-year-old Glen Douglas Perry of New Auburn during a traffic stop Saturday afternoon. The officers died at the scene and Perry later died after being transported to a nearby hospital.

Jim Hanson and Jody Collins of Rice Lake were among those at the vigil paying respects for officers they'd never met. Hanson said he's "had a sorrow" for the small, rural communities reeling from loss. He said the violence feels out of place here.

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"I think, the larger communities are better prepared for it," Hanson said. "Here it's not been an issue. So (officers) are not on as much a defense as (police in) big cities would be."

Madeline Peters grew up in Chetek and is now teaching kindergarten at Cameron Elementary School. She said the two communities are devastated, but they've become more united than ever in responding to the tragedy.

"I mean, just driving through Main Street and just going into small businesses and just feeling the support of even offering free drinks and free meals to kind of just do anything for anyone is just — I mean, you can really feel how small town it is," Peters said.

Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Justice said Monday that Breidenbach and Scheel pulled Perry over to check on his welfare after their departments received "notification of concerning behavior" and because he had an outstanding warrant.

Court records show a Barron County judge issued a bench warrant for Perry on March 30 after he failed to appear during a court hearing requested by the county's child support agency as part of a divorce case. Perry was also charged twice for domestic violence related offenses in 2020.


A joint statement from the Cameron and Chetek Police departments shed light on the officers' backgrounds. Breidenbach joined the Chetek police force in 2019 and handled the department's therapy dog, Officer Grizz. Before working for her hometown police department, she worked for nine months with the Stoughton Police Department in Dane County. Scheel Joined the Cameron Police Department just last year after graduating from the law enforcement academy in December. He also served six years as a member of the Army National Guard.

The city of Chetek and village of Cameron are small communities located eight miles from one another with around 2,000 residents each. The police departments in both have just a handful of officers.

The shooting is being investigated by the DOJ's Division of Criminal Investigation. It garnered national attention and an outpouring of condolences via social media from other law enforcement agencies and elected officials like State Attorney General Josh Kaul , and Gov. Tony Evers

Evers ordered all flags be lowered to half staff, Wednesday, in honor of Scheel and Breidenbach.

Memorial funds for the fallen officers have been set up at local banks in the region. Donations to the Hunter Scheel Memorial Fund can be sent to PO Box 457, 101 W. Main St. Cameron, WI 54822. Donations to the Emily Breidenbach Memorial Fund can be sent to Sterling Bank, 427 Second St., PO Box 106, Chetek, WI 54728.

Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard locally on 91.3 KUWS-FM and at

Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2023, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.


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