Mural in memory of Racine Police Officer, John Hetland

National News

(CNN) — A mural is being painted on the side of the Hiawatha bar and grill in honor of Racine Police Officer John Hetland.

This is a place where he was loved by the customers and employees.

Angelica Sanchez is in Sturtevant with the people working to keep his memory alive

On this side of the tracks, a community remembers a friend.

Tammy Graceffa, says, “sometimes you look over your shoulder and think you caught a glimpse of John.”

Her loyal patron and friend, Racine Police Officer John Hetland stopped by for a meal. Just hours before the off duty officer lost his life in June.

He was stopping an attempted armed robbery at nearby Teezers bar.

Graceffa says, “for a lot of us to just know he won’t be walking through the door.” She recalls his relentless sense of humor. “he liked to tell jokes. Play jokes on you (laughs), just a lot of fun.”

A few months since his death, Graceffa decided officer Hetland should continue to be a part of her establishment through a mural.

Mural artist, Jeff Vlieger says, “you get a puddle of tears and you work your way through it as a way of dealing with the grief.”

Vlieger says, “it’s like building a train, this piece, this piece, this piece.”

The concept of this mural is a train breaking through a brick wall. An image of officer Hetland along with his badge number will be among the finishing touches.

Vlieger says, “everybody knew the guy. He was a great guy.”

The goal is to finish the mural by Sept. 21, when a fundraiser for the fallen officer’s children is scheduled to take place.

Anything for a friend, many wish could walk through the door once more.

Graceffa says, “we all just love him and we miss him terribly.”

The fundraiser for Officer Hetland’s children will be on Sept. 21, hosted by the Hiawatha bar and grill.

It will include live music, fireworks and plenty of food.

A lot of this is being donated showing just another way this community continues to remember a man who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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