Thousands in Sigourney Attend Funeral For Fallen Deputy

By Jillian Petrus, Reporter

A large flag hangs between two fire trucks in the Sigourney town square before the start of the funeral Keokuk County Sheriff's Sgt. Eric Stein Saturday, April 9, 2011. (Brian Ray/Pool)

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By Kelli Sutterman

SIGOURNEY, Iowa – The sun peaked through an overcast sky just before 11:00 a.m. Saturday April 9, 2011 lighting a path of American flags leading to Signourey Junior-Senior High School.

This is where over a thousand people gathered to say a final goodbye to Sergeant Eric Stein, 39, of What Cheer.

“It’s just a sad day,” said Todd Abrahamson, Superintendent for the school district and an organizer for Stein’s funeral. “People are really pulling together.”

Family, friends and law enforcement across the state paid tribute to Stein in a ceremony last nearly two hours. Governor Terry Branstad was also in attendance to show his respect for the first Iowa law enforcement officer killed while on duty since 1985.

Among thousands of on-lookers the governor officially proclaimed Stein a hero.

“I’m just sad that I never got to meet him,” said Terry “Harley Dog”, a member of the Patriot Guard and part of the procession escorting Stein to the school and Garrett Cemetery. “He sounds like a truly amazing individual, very dedicated to his community and to his daughter.”

A crowd so large not everyone could fit inside for the funeral. Some just passed by, like Linda Hanchett, a friend of Stein’s grandparents and sister, and remembered his contributions to Sigourney.

“I’m very sorry for their loss,” she said. “But I do really think the community has pulled together and we are all really going to miss him.”

The events leading to Stein’s death are still under investigation. Officers say Jeff Krier, 53, a man with a history of mental illness, shot and killed Stein while he and two other patrolmen responded to a call at Krier’s home Monday April 4th.

Those that knew Stein well say this is a devastating loss for Sigourney.

“Very well respected, his heart was with his family, friends and the department,” said Abrahamson.

In a final farewell, these are the people that led the deputy to his final resting place at Garrett Cemetery.

An honor guard fly-over and a twenty-one gun salute giving Sergeant Stein a hero’s send-off that won’t soon be forgotten.

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