BATAVIA, OH (FOX19) - Clermont County Detective Bill Brewer died in the line of duty while serving and protecting the community he loved.
On Friday, hundreds of mourners from his beloved community and his law enforcement brother and sisters are paid their respects to his selfless legacy as he was honored and laid to rest.
“Bill could always be counted on to do the right thing. Knowing Bill was around just made me feel better,” said Sheriff Steve Leahy in the eulogy at his funeral at Mt. Carmel Christian Church in Batavia.
"Bill was dedicated to protecting and helping those less fortunate and in need of assistance. This would be the guy I would want to show up if my family members were in need.
“Bill gave his life as he lived it: As a hero," the sheriff continued. "Bill is gone from us today, but his life and service will never be forgotten. To Bill’s family, there are no words capable of providing sufficient comfort. All we can do and will do is pledge undying support and promise to be by your side from this moment forward.
“The wounds caused by Bill’s sudden death will never completely heal and the void cannot be completely filled. All we can do is honor him by carrying on his legacy and leading our lives as an example for others to follow.”
Mt. Carmel church officials said more than 7,000 people passed through for the visitation Thursday. Friday’s funeral also brought big numbers of people looking to honor the life of the fallen brother in blue.
"1,500 is the conservative estimate of uniformed officers that came in total,” the church said in reference to the funeral. That number includes the number of people who came to be part of the procession as the church is not large enough to hold 1,500 guests.
Hundreds lined the streets as the procession went by.
“It’s a very sad day. I got to see Bill Brewer here in the park a lot. But we’re going to miss him because he patrolled our streets and kept us safe,” Cecile Graening said.
WATCH COVERAGE OF THE FUNERAL BELOW:
Brewer, 42, was shot to death during a standoff with a gunman at a Pierce Township apartment complex Saturday night. A second deputy, Lt. Nick DeRose, was shot in the ankle and wounded.
Prosecutors say the suspect, Wade Edward Winn, feigned suicide and “was waiting in ambush” when Brewer and other officers went to the apartment to try to help him.
The sheriff had harsh words for Winn: “Screw you.” He also referred to him as “that a--hole in my jail."
He said he toned down his remarks about the suspect “because of the children here and we are in church.”
Brewer worked at the sheriff’s office 20 years and leaves behind a wife and 5-year-old son.
He is the first deputy with the sheriff’s office to be killed in the line of duty since 1966.
Brewer also is the fifth local law enforcement officer to die in the past two months, including a Colerain Township police officer killed in the line of duty.
Dale Woods, 46, was hit and critically hurt by a pickup truck at the scene of a previous crash on Colerain Avenue the evening of Jan. 4. He succumbed to his injuries three days later at University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Two other officers committed suicide, and the fifth was killed in a car crash by a driver charged with OVI.
The deaths have shaken local law enforcement, but they have not broken their strong bond and support for one another.
That was evident Friday by an overwhelming turnout of police vehicles including many from SWAT teams participating in the funeral procession to the church and then from the church to Pierce Township Cemetery.
At the cemetery, Brewer was laid to rest with many customs of police funerals: The riderless horse, the playing of “Taps," a 21-gun salute and folding of the American flag.
Brewer’s casket was put onto a horse-drawn caisson from the Butler County Sheriff’s Office and taken to its final resting spot.
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones says his office reached out to the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office and offered the use of their wagon, which was custom-made to replicate ones used to carry soldiers to their graves at Arlington National Cemetery.
Brewer will become the latest in more than 30 law enforcement and military personnel locally, statewide and nationally carried to their final resting spot by the sheriff’s caisson, according to Jones.
Sadly, he noted, the caisson was just used the funeral a few weeks ago for Colerain Township Police Officer Dale Woods.
“It’s shocking that we’ve had it out so much in just a few weeks,” he said. “The ideal situation would be to never use it, that we would train to use it but never use it and just be prepared.
"But the times that we live right now, police officers are getting shot while they pump gas, while they eat, while they respond first calls, while they try to help people. The trend is trending up, not down, and this is what these officers face every single day when they put that badge on.”
The sheriff’s office had two standoffs last year in which the gunmen fired multiple rounds at deputies. No one was hit, and deputies did not return fire at one because the suspect was holding a young boy hostage.
But at one over the summer in Trenton, deputies returned as they retreated and took cover, Jones recalled.
“Part of it is skill. but a major part of it is by the grace of God. When those bullets start flying, they have no eyes," he said.
West Clermont School District asked people to visit the Dairy Queen in Amelia at 1132 West Ohio Pike Saturday because 50 percent of all sales that day will be donated to Detective Brewer’s family.
They also said MercyHealth West Clermont HealthPlex is hosting a workout to honor Detective Brewer at Noon Saturday. All donations will be given to the Brewer family.