‘Large Presence’ of Law Enforcement Expected at Deputy’s Funeral Saturday
By Gregg Hennigan and Erin Jordan
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - His fellow officers are keeping a 24-hour watch over his body, and law enforcement personnel from across Iowa will gather in force Saturday to pay their respects to Sgt. Eric Stein.
In what won’t surprise anyone who knows the kinship among those who wear a badge, hundreds of peace officers will be at the slain Keokuk County sheriff’s deputy’s funeral on Saturday.
“We’re hoping to have a very large presence there because it’s the right thing to do for one of our lost brothers,” said Bremer County Sheriff Dewey Hildebrandt, who also is president of the Iowa State Sheriff’s & Deputies Association.
Visitation will be from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at Sigourney Junior-Senior High School. The funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at the school. Interment will be held in the Springfield Cemetery near Delta.
Investigators say Stein was shot and killed Monday by Jeff Krier as Stein, Sheriff Jeff Shipley and Deputy Casey Hinnah approached Krier’s home on 249th Street in rural Sigourney.
Krier, 53, was shot and killed three hours later after he came out of the home with unspecified weapons, authorities say. An autopsy performed Wednesday found that Krier died of multiple gunshot wounds, said Dr. Dennis Klein, deputy state medical examiner.
An autopsy Tuesday determined Stein, 39, died of a shotgun wound to the head. Shipley and Hinnah were not injured.
Hildebrandt said law enforcement officers have kept a nonstop watch over Stein’s body.
“We’ve been trying to give the body the honor that we feel he deserves by keeping a peace officer in attendance up until the time that he’s laid to rest,” he said.
The Iowa State Sheriff’s & Deputies Association is coordinating a color guard for Stein’s funeral. Officers are being encouraged to wear what is called the winter uniform, which includes a shirt, tie and the “campaign” hat. They will stand in formation as the body leaves the funeral service and at the burial, saluting as it passes.
Stein is the first Iowa peace officer to be shot and killed in the line of duty since 1985. Twelve others have died in the line of duty since then, mostly in automobile accidents or from health problems during an incident.
“Clearly it’s a different situation,” Hildebrandt said of Stein’s death. “However, the loss of a life is a loss of a life. We peace officers know that what we do is very dangerous. The danger may come from driving an automobile at a high rate of speed out of necessity, and it may come from having to face someone who is not acting rationally, perhaps, and shooting someone.”
No further details about the investigation were available Wednesday. Investigators continue to interview witnesses and collect evidence in order to create a complete picture of what happened Monday afternoon and the 24 to 48 hours before that, said Jessica Lown, a spokeswoman with the Iowa Department of Public Safety.
The road leading to the site of Monday’s shootings was reopened Wednesday after investigators spent more than a day combing over the site to collect evidence as part of the investigation. Broken glass and missing windows were noticeable at the property.
Lown’s agency did clarify that Stein was 39 years old, not 38 as it originally reported.
Also Wednesday, Stein continued to be remembered by people who knew him. A common theme has been his love of baseball and, as an adult, softball.
Scott Edmundson, 39, was a grade behind Stein at Tri-County schools, where Edmundson now coaches several sports and teaches elementary school.
He said Stein could hit 85 mph on the radar gun and throw a knuckleball “you could read the words on” as a right-handed pitcher. He was just as dangerous batting from the left side of the plate, and Edmundson, who often hit higher in the lineup than Stein, learned to be careful upon reaching base.
“It was scary as scary could be because you always knew that he was going to hit the ball hard down that first-base line right at you,” he said. “You always kind of wanted to get to second (base) as quickly as possible.”
Shelley Krumm, 51, of Keswick, first met Stein when he was a grade-schooler and Krumm’s husband Mike and Stein’s father Lonnie played on the same fastpitch softball team for What Cheer. Wherever the team was, you’d find Eric, she said, and he eventually played on that team.
“It’s hard to believe something like this could happen this close to home, let alone to someone that you’ve known most of his life,” she said.
More information also emerged on Krier’s history with mental illness.
Krier, who suffered from bipolar disorder for three decades, was hospitalized for a week in March because of the disease, his family said.
On March 3, Keokuk County deputies took Krier to the Keokuk County emergency room for an evaluation, the family said. The Keokuk hospital sent Krier to Iowa Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines.
An attempt was made to have Krier committed to a mental health institution, but a judge ruled against the commitment, the family said.
Krier stayed at Iowa Lutheran for six days, when he was released, the family said. Iowa Lutheran Spokeswoman Amy Varcoe said Wednesday she could not confirm whether Krier had been a patient because “behavioral health” patients have additional privacy protections. She said Krier’s family had not asked the hospital to release additional information about him.
In the 1990s, Krier was found not guilty of several crimes, including carrying weapons and stalking, by reason of insanity. Court records show Krier also battled alcoholism and drug abuse for more than 20 years.
Officers arrested Krier on Nov. 8, 1996, after stopping him while he was driving a tractor in Ottumwa with a loaded Ruger 9mm pistol and marijuana in his pockets, court records show. Krier was charged with stalking, a Class D felony, in December 1996 based on allegations he called, visited and sent letters to an Ottumwa woman, causing her fear, records state.
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