Dozens of Wichitans came together Sunday to pay tribute to Brian Etheridge, the sheriff's deputy killed in the line of duty Sept. 28.
"We cry out. We cry out against the violence and hostility that took the life of sheriff's Deputy Brian Etheridge as he served in the cause of safety for us all," said the Rev. Sally Fahrenthold, a retired Lutheran minister. "We pray for Brian's colleagues and friends... that they may be comforted in the midst of these terrible times with the love and support of one another in this community."
The public gathering, held in the Broadview Hotel, included Etheridge's wife, Sarah, surrounded by a handful of family and friends, and Sedgwick County Sheriff Bob Hinshaw.
Sedgwick County sheriff's officials have said Etheridge, 26, was ambushed after he responded to a report of a theft southeast of Wichita.
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"It awakened a great deal of concern in the community and we felt we needed to respond," said Rev. Dave Fulton, pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, who organized the event.
He said he wanted people to remember not only the service Etheridge offered, but to honor the service of all people in law enforcement and firefighting in Sedgwick County.
Afterward, Hinshaw said the service offered Wichitans and Etheridge's colleagues a chance for closure.
There are additional plans to honor Etheridge with a memorial coin that could be purchased locally, Hinshaw said. The proceeds would go to the Sedgwick County Law Enforcement Memorial Fund.
Through federal funds, state insurance and workers' compensation, Hinshaw said, the Etheridge family will receive about $500,000 in compensation.
"I'm sure to some people $500,000 may sound like a lot of money," he said. "But you are talking a lifetime of loss."
Beverly Klag said she decided to go to the event after reading about it in her church bulletin.
"I know police and firefighters put their lives on the line every day," she said. "I appreciate it. Just like us, they have families. They need our support."