Wisconsin police officers honored as heroes

Emily Breidenbach, 32, and Hunter Scheel, 23, were killed in a shootout Saturday, April 8.

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Hunter Scheel, left, and Emily Breidenbach
Contributed / Village of Cameron Police Department, Chetek Police Department

CAMERON, Wis. — Chetek police officer Emily Breidenbach and Cameron police officer Hunter Scheel will forever be remembered as heroes and defenders of their communities, said Rev. Cody Kargus.

"They were true heroes," Kargus said before a packed gymnasium at Cameron High School on Saturday. "Heroes is used too often, to where it loses its meaning. Not today. They were heroes, dying while protecting our community."

Breidenbach, 32, and Scheel, 23, were killed in a shootout Saturday, April 8. The suspected shooter, Glenn D. Perry, also was killed. While the officers worked for different agencies, they had gotten to know each other well, Kargus said.

"They were friends; they worked the same shifts, and often backed each other up," Kargus said.

The gym was packed with more than 1,000 officers from across Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and around the nation. Also in the crowd were Gov. Tony Evers, Attorney General Josh Kaul, U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Minoqua, and U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden, R-Prairie du Chien.


"I heard some New York accents and Texas accents," Kargus said. "For all of you who are not from our county, you are our family."

The closed caskets, with U.S. flags draped on them, sat at the front of the gym. Next to Scheel was some of his deer mounts and a Minnesota Wild jersey. Next to Breidenbach was her Harley motorcycle.

Kargus serves as law enforcement chaplain for both departments and knew both officers.

"Last Saturday was the worst day of my life," Kargus said. "I lost two friends."

In a prayer, Kargus asked, "is there any grief like this?" He added: "We may not have the answers of why. What we have is hope, hope that is found in (God.)"

Scheel loved life, outdoors

"The one word I want to use to describe Hunter is love," Kargus said. "He loved to protect, and that's what he wanted to do."

Kargus recalled meeting Scheel when he joined the police department, and they did a ride-along together.

"He was so eager, and so young," Kargus said. "My first night I spent with him, all we talked about was hunting and fishing. When I left his squad that time, I thought 'Hunter' was the perfect name for him."


Kargus said that Scheel loved his family, his department, and his military comrades.

Audrey Scheel," Hunter's sister, told the crowd she loved her brother's smile.

"I cry and cry, knowing I'll never get to see that smile again," Audrey Scheel said. She added that looking at the overflowing crowd, offering support, "I know he's smiling and he's proud. I know he's proud of having Emily's back."

Audrey concluded, "May you forever hold Emily close."

Mark Clements, Hunter's cousin, talked about growing up with Hunter.

"The heart on this kid, I don't know how it fit in his body," Clement said. "He always put everyone first. He was a protector at home, and at work."

Camryn Gosdeck, Scheel's partner, read a Psalm and thanked the crowd for being there and providing her support.

Cameron Police Chief Adam Steffen said he is struggling with how his department moves forward.


"Our path has been detoured," Steffen said. "I was blessed with getting to lead Hunter. They performed their job with dignity, respect and professionalism."

Breidenbach protected children, loved to laugh

Chetek Police Chief Ron Ambrozaitis told the crowd about when Breidenbach first walked into his office. Breidenbach's father, Robert Breidenbach, was previously the Chetek police chief. Emily Breidenbach was one of three finalists for an opening.

"I knew that last name," Ambrozaitis said. "And I knew I had to make this girl part of the Chetek Police Department."

He described toying with her before finally letting her know she got the job.

"I knew she made a phone call, because she was so excited, and it was to her father," Ambrozaitis said.

During her tenure, Breidenbach worked sensitive crimes, wanting to protect children. She was visible at high school sports events, and loved to interact with kids.

"She was all about community and kids," Ambrozaitis said.

And she pushed for the department to get a therapy dog, Grizz.


"Thee was no doubt who the handler would be," Ambrozaitis said.

He told her that there was no money in the budget for a dog, so she would have to appeal to the public.

"She raised $18,000 in four months," Ambrozaitis said. "We only needed about six."

He added: "She tried my patience, but I so loved that girl."

Ambrozaitis said whoever he hires next will have big shoes to fill.

"Emily would want us to stay strong and finish our mission," Ambrozaitis said.

Kargus recalled doing a 'shop-with-a-cop' day with Breidenbach, and he recalled her eagerness to help out.

"Her legacy is she cared," Kargus said.


Chetek Mayor Jeff Martin thanked the crowd for the support they've seen in the past week.

"Evil is not a philosophical concept; it is real," Martin said. "As long as there is evil, we need officers. We've lost a member of our family. It's a dangerous world out there, and we will always need people like Emily to suit up and protect us."

Kargus concluded the two-hour funeral by reminding the crowd that we can overcome evil with good. He urged the crowd to look to God and to others for support.

"This has been a hard week, and your grief is deep," Kargus said. "Love one another."

The Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation is handling the investigation into the shooting. No new details have been released.

(c)2023 the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.)
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