Two southwest IA Peace officers killed in the line of duty to be honored


May 16th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Eight law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty, including two from southwest Iowa, will be honored Tuesday by the State of Iowa, as part of Peace Officer Memorial Week. Among those whose name will be on the Peace Officer’s Memorial, is Officer Robert Heller, with Avoca Police Department.

Officer Robert Heller arrived at a domestic disturbance on the south side of Avoca, on June 20, 1886. Officer Heller announced himself at the residence and was fatally wounded by a shotgun blast from the drunk offender, William Farrell. Farrell then turned the gun on himself, dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Also, being honored during Tuesday’s ceremony, is Deputy Thomas Walsh, with the Union County Sheriff’s Office. On December 4, 1899, Deputy Walsh served Al Williams a writ of execution. In the afternoon, the deputy went to the Williams farm to secure the property to satisfy the judgment. Walsh was met at the farm with Al Williams holding a shot gun. Mr. Williams told Deputy Walsh to leave and when Deputy Walsh advanced toward Williams, Williams shot Deputy Walsh just below the right ear killing him instantly.

The latest addition to the Peace Officer’s Memorial is Sergeant Erik Stein, with Keokuk County Sheriff’s Office. On April 4th, 2011, Sergeant Eric Stein was shot and killed as he, the county sheriff, and another deputy attempted to question a man regarding an incident that had occurred the previous night.

The three officers had gone to the man’s rural home shortly before noon when they were fired upon. Sergeant Stein was struck and killed. The sheriff and remaining deputy took cover and called for assistance. The stand-off was brought to an end by the Iowa State Patrol Tactical Team.  Sergeant Stein served with the Keokuk County Sheriff’s Office for 11 years. He is survived by his 9-year-old daughter, sister, and father.

The ceremony takes place at 10-a.m. at the Peace Officer Memorial next to the Lucas State Office Building, on the corner of East Grand and East 12th Street in Des Moines. Governor Terry Branstad and other notables will be on-hand for the event, which the public is welcomed to attend.