BATAVIA, Ohio – An Ohio sheriff had strong words Friday at the funeral for his own deputy, Bill Brewer, who was fatally shot in the line of duty.
“To those who would do us harm, to those who would advocate for violence against us, to that a–hole in my jail, I have two words for you on behalf of Bill’s family, this county, my office and all the cops across this country: screw you,” Clermont County Sheriff Robert Leahy said.
The sheriff said he would have used even harsher language if it weren’t for the children in the audience at Mount Carmel Christian Church.
Brewer responded last Saturday night to a standoff with a man who would feign own suicide, luring deputies into his apartment, officials said.
More: One deputy killed, another injured during deadly overnight standoff in Ohio
The suspect, identified by prosecutors as Wade Winn, opened fire through a wall, according to law enforcement. Brewer was fatally wounded and his commander, Lt. Nick DeRose, was also shot.
Winn was captured hours later when he lept from his apartment, which had become engulfed in flames.
Brewer was laid to rest Friday with the traditions and honors due an officer who dies in the line of duty.
His last ride was on a caisson, followed by a riderless horse. The sounds of bagpipes and drums cut through the otherwise silent Pierce Township Cemetery.
Then came a 21-gun salute and the sound of taps, followed by a helicopter flyover and a final radio call for Deputy Bill Brewer.
“Bill gave his life as he lived it, as a hero,” Leahy said at the church. “His life and service will never be forgotten.”
Leahy was close to tears as he addressed the family and his officers. He said he and many others have struggled to deal with the loss of Brewer, who was a man Leahy would trust when his own family was in trouble.
Brewer will be remembered as a man who lived with enthusiasm for family, friends and fellow officers, Leahy said.
“Bill laid down his life in a supreme act of devotion for those most precious to him,” Leahy said.
In the wake of the shooting, the sheriff said many people have asked if he’s OK. He said he’s not.
“I’m a mess. I’m a wreck. I’m devastated but just like all of you. How could I be (OK) when Bill’s family is not OK, when my staff is not OK?” Leahy said.
The procession for Brewer drew hundreds to line the streets in the cold following his funeral. Along the route from the church to the cemetery, people waited to show their respect as the procession passed.
Sharon Albright wore a T-shirt that said, “Enough is enough.” It’s a message she pointed out as she spoke about the Feb. 2 standoff.
“Nick DeRose was my son’s baseball coach,” Albright said of the wounded officer. “So it really hits home.”
When the Albright family learned about the standoff, they knew their friend DeRose was involved. They didn’t know if he was injured or dead.
“It was just really heartbreaking for everyone involved,” Albright said. “It’s really brought the whole county together.”
Katie Hughbanks of Batavia said she didn’t know Brewer but knows members of his family. She said the world is a changed place, no longer safe for police officers.
“It’s like they’re targets,” she said.
Brewer is survived by his wife of 13 years, Jamie Hensley Brewer, his son Braxton, his parents William Sr. and Angie Brewer, his brother Michael Brewer, his in-laws and several nieces and nephews.
Brewer started working for the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office in 1998 as a corrections officer. He became a deputy in 2006 and was appointed to the Special Response Team in 2015.
A memorial fund to help his family was established at Park National Bank.
Contributing: Jeanne Houck and Sheila Vilvens