LaBelle, FL – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) Wildlife Officer Julian Keen Jr. died in the line of duty on Sunday after he was shot while trying to stop a hit-and-run driver.
The 30-year-old officer was off-duty when he attempted to stop the suspect near the intersection of Apache Circle and Nobles Road, WEAR reported.
Officer Keen was fatally shot during the ensuing confrontation.
Three suspects have been taken into custody, WEAR reported.
The Florida Highway Patrol Command Officers Association said in a Facebook post on Sunday that Officer Keen was murdered “while following his calling to protect and serve.”
“He was a genuine officer who would literally give his shirt off his back to ANYONE who needed it,” the association said. “Please pray for his family and law enforcement everywhere as we face these troubling times.”
Officer Keen’s murder is considered to be a line-of-duty death, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden said that investigators will do everything in their power to “bring about justice to those guilty in this shooting death,” WINK reported.
“This was a heartbreaker. It hit me personally and it hit this community personally,” Sheriff Whidden said. “We all knew Officer Keen, and he wasn’t only our brother but a role model for the community.”
Officer Keen served the FFWCC for six years, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“It’s not just the fact that he was law enforcement,” Sheriff Whidden told WINK. “It was the fact that he was a friend…everyone that has ever worked with him came out to pay their respects to their family and of course, the community.”
Officer Keen was a LaBelle native who went on to play football at Webber International University, WINK reported.
“He had so much heart. So much virtue and integrity,” said his close friend, Christopher Wills. “Anyone and everyone who has ever talked to Julian knows that he is just a ray of sunlight in a dark world…He really was one of the greats. He was the best of us.”
The community will hold a vigil in Officer Keen’s honor on Wednesday, WINK reported.
It is with heavy hearts that we confirm the tragic death of Officer Julian Keen. Our thoughts are with his friends and family during this difficult time. #Officer #Florida #LawEnforcement pic.twitter.com/SJdgwqcQ5S
— MyFWC (@MyFWC) June 14, 2020
So many members of the LaBelle community came out to pay their respects to Julian Keen, the off-duty MyFWC Officer killed early this morning.winknews pic.twitter.com/yc4sQejuHH
— Andryanna Sheppard (AndryannaTV) June 14, 2020
— Bourbon Street Homes (@BourbonStreet2) June 15, 2020
RIP Julian Keen
Officer Julian Keen of LaBelle, FL was shot while pursuing a hit and run last night. While I don’t know all the details, I do know that he was loved by all in the community. This is a tragic loss.
Please keep Julian’s loved one and LaBelle in your prayers. pic.twitter.com/nJzMC7VFGi
— DarlingVeteran 🇺🇸 (@DarlingVeteran) June 14, 2020
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) Wildlife Officer Julian Keen, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Officer Julian Keen, your life mattered.