Community, Police Help Wayzata Heal After Officer's Death

September 09, 2017 10:48 PM

With a band over his badge to honor William Mathews, Maple Grove officer Jesse Mathwig volunteered his time with officers from other departments to watch over the city of Wayzata. 

The city's police were given the day off to be with family, according to Mayor Ken Willcox. Many spent the day at the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office keeping watch over their brother in blue.


RELATED: 'He Knew Everyone': Wayzata Officer Hit, Killed Clearing Debris from Highway

"We're a very tight-knit brotherhood, as everybody knows, and all we want to do is be here for the community," Mathwig said. "It's very tragic, the fact that he's not going to be able to go home to his wife and his young son."

Across town at Long Lake True Value hardware store, co-owner and Minnetrista Police Officer Mike Kokesh is also doing his part to lift spirits.

RELATED: Driver Suspected of Hitting, Killing Wayzata Officer had License Revoked

He's given away hundreds of free blue porch lights to members in the community looking to honor officer Mathews.

"It sends the message that, you know, we're there for you," Kokesh said.  "Everybody knows everybody in town, and they knew him." That includes Kokesh, who said Mathews was his friend. 

"Nicest guy," he said. "Always coming in here just to chat, have some popcorn."

Kokesh said the outpouring of support is uplifting. He called True Value corporate headquarters early Saturday and asked them to open a warehouse in Belle Plaine so he could restock the blue lights.

Even with a constant line at the check-out, he said the store felt empty knowing Mathews will no longer be making visits. 

"It's tough. It's very difficult," he said.

Everyone has a role to play as the community honors Mathews' life.  

At the ages of 3 and 6,  Charlie and Alex Peters can't yet see over the steering wheel of officer Mathwig's squad car on display at JJ Hill Days, but they've always looked up to police. And they aren't the only ones.

"I've had no less than probably two dozen guys that have climbed in my squad car today," Mathwig said.

Several people said it's the least they can do to share the load with many hands working to lift up the Wayzata community.

"That's what makes this place a great place to live," said local Chuck Littlefield. "That's why I love it here."

On Sunday, the annual JJ Hill Days Parade in Wayzata will also be dedicated to Officer Mathews. It will begin with Wayzata officers in their squad cars, followed by neighboring law enforcement members marching in support.

The parade begins at 2:00 p.m. in downtown Wayzata.


Katherine Johnson

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