GLENWOOD CITY, Wis. -- Officials have identified the western Wisconsin sheriff's deputy who was fatally shot in the line of duty Saturday evening.
The St. Croix County Sheriff's Office said Deputy Kaitie Leising, 29, was responding to a call about a potential drunken driver in a ditch when "gunfire was exchanged" and she was killed.
"Our love and condolences go out to the family of Kaitie Leising and all those with whom she served," the sheriff's office said in a statement. "We, as a law enforcement family, will do everything possible to continue to provide support and comfort to her family. We will miss her infectious smile and personality. She will be missed by all she touched."
The shooting occurred in the township of Glenwood, about an hour east of the Twin Cities, around 6:15 p.m.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice said Leising encountered a potentially impaired driver, 34-year-old Jeremiah Johnson, in a ditch, along with a car that had stopped to help him. Leising asked Johnson to take field sobriety tests, and after evading her request for eight minutes, Johnson shot her, the DOJ said.
Leising shot back three times, but did not hit Johnson, according to the DOJ. The people at the scene tried to save Leising's life, but she was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
Johnson fled into the woods, according to the DOJ. About an hour after Leising was shot, another officer saw Johnson, "heard a gunshot, and witnessed him collapse to the ground," the DOJ said. A handgun was found by Johnson, and no law enforcement officers fired their weapons at that time.
The sheriff's office said Leising joined St. Croix County in 2022, and was with the Pennington County Sheriff's Office in South Dakota for two years before that.
Robert Unruh, mayor of nearby Glenwood City, said his "thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the fallen officer, the St. Croix County Sheriff's Office and all law enforcement."
"Our community was abruptly disturbed and exposed to an incident that greatly affected everyone in many ways and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future," Unruh said.
Hundreds of people in Minnesota and Wisconsin joined law enforcement from both states Sunday in escorting the sheriff's deputy. Draped in the American flag, Leising's body was brought into a funeral home in Baldwin, Wisconsin – surrounded by dozens of law enforcement officers in solemn salute.
She was never alone on her trip from St. Paul to Baldwin. Hundreds of people lined the streets and bridges to follow the police procession.
You didn't have to know Leising personally to feel compelled to honor her life and her service to St. Croix County.
"I'm so thankful that there are so many people here," said Hudson resident Shelly Vance. "We rallied last minute."
A crowd of people from all over gathered on the 11th Street Bridge over I-94 on Sunday afternoon, as Deputy Leising's body was brought from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office to the funeral home.
A squad car marks a memorial for her in front of the St. Croix Sheriff's Office, as people have come by to lay flowers and pay their respects, including Hudson residents Chad and Laura Johnson.
"It's just senseless, just very sad," Laura Johnson said.
"Thought we'd bring our grandkids down here to support a little bit as we could do," Chad Johnson said. "You feel for the family members that had a daughter that didn't come home last night."
A few of the deputies who just lost their colleague lowered their flags to half staff. Marcia Krogseng can't believe another law enforcement officer's life was cut short.
"My son is a police officer. I got other family who are in the police force across the two states, and I just wanted to show my respects for the officer who was lost yesterday," Krogseng said. "Three in Wisconsin, one in Minnesota within the last month. I just hope it's not a trend."
Becky Brock felt it was important to bring her daughters to see the procession.
"I'm sick to my stomach, actually. I am disgusted with the fact that all of these officers from all of these different departments just did this three weeks ago," Brock said. "We can be supportive of the police department, of the firefighters, of the helpers, is what we call them in our house. Look for the helpers, and all of these helpers are being supportive of each other, and we're supportive of them."
This community, like the others in the last month, have all shown their strength in numbers through difficult times.
"We need them to come together, and we all come together. That's just great to see that in our community," said Hudson resident Krista Borst.
Last month, officers Hunter Scheel of Cameron and Emily Breidenbach of Chetek wereafter serving a warrant at a traffic stop.
A week after that, Pope County, Minnesota Sheriff's Deputy Joshua Owen was. Another deputy and a Starbuck police officer were also shot, but survived.
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