Emily Breidenbach was identified by multiple family members, former co-workers and friends as the Chetek, Wisconsin, police officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty on April 8, 2023.
Governor Tony Evers also named the two slain officers on April 10.
According to an old article in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, accessed through Newspapers.com, Breidenbach’s dad, Robert Breidenbach, was previously the Chetek police chief, retiring in 2005.
The second slain officer, from Cameron, was named by family members as Hunter Scheel. Read more about his life here.
Breidenbach’s brother, Mike Breidenbach, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, “To know her was to love her. She could’ve gone anywhere to work but loved Chetek.”
“Our hearts break over your loss. You were an angel on earth and now you’ve gone back to your maker. Chetek will never be the same without you. Thank you for all you did for our family. May you rest easy in the afterlife. We salute you for your bravery 👮♀️💔” a friend wrote in tribute.
Family member Karen Yonkie wrote on Facebook,
I don’t know how to process this. Emily Ann I’ve know you since you were ten when my pops (Tim) married your mom. You have always been a shining beckon of light. You have always lived life with such adventure, and treated everyone around you with dignity and respect. from the silly vibrant 10 year old to the girl who made a stand in high school to shave her head to the beautiful woman you were. You will be remembered and thought of daily.
One friend shared a video of Breidenbach dancing with children at a community event, and giving them stickers, and wrote, “A respected officer, a mentor, a role model, most of all a genuinely good person. RIP my friend.”
Breidenbach’s cousin also shared that video, writing, “My cousin Emily Ann lost her life in the” line of duty, adding that “this little video shows the Beauty & Light she shined with!”
Breidenbach, who became engaged to be married only one month ago, recently received an award from a local television station for her positive personality. She was an officer with the Chetek Police Department for more than four years, according to her LinkedIn page.
In a news release on April 8, 2023, the Wisconsin Department of Justice confirmed that two officers, from Chetek and Cameron, Wisconsin, were shot and killed in the same incident. Both are small departments in Barron County.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Emily Breidenbach, Who Worked in Loss Prevention for Department Stores Before Being Hired by Chetek PD, Recently Ran for a Trustee Position Because She Wanted to Make ‘a Difference in Our Daily Lives’
According to her LinkedIn page, Breidenbach had been a police officer with the City of Chetek for more than four years.
Mayor Jeff Martin wrote in 2020 that he went on a ride-along with Breidenbach, “We all should be grateful that we have a young, personable and professional law enforcement officer such as Emily. Thanks for the education, Emily – and for the cone! Thank you for your service!”
Before that, she worked in asset protection and marketing for Cabela’s in Green Bay and for Macy’s in Madison, Wisconsin.
She was a police officer in the City of Stoughton for eight months starting in 2015 and was a loss prevention supervisor for Kohl’s Department Store in 2013.
The day that Officer Peter Jerving was shot and killed in Milwaukee, Breidenbach shared a Milwaukee police badge with a black line through it on her Facebook page.
According to her LinkedIn page, Breidenbach also worked in loss prevention for Sears Holdings Corporation for three years in Madison.
She had a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in crisis/emergency/disaster management and human development and family studies and an associate’s degree in criminal justice and police science from Northcentral Technical College.
She was president of the Criminal Justice Club at Northcentral, according to her LinkedIn page.
She wrote that she volunteered for Cops for Kids charitable foundation.
Just days before she died, Breidenbach was on the ballot in an election for trustee. “I was elected President of the Chetek Youth Center board in 2021 and Vice President of Fraternal Order of Police local chapter in 2022,” she explained in a story in the Barron News-Shield.
“I am running (trustee) because it is just one way to give back to the community we live in,” Breidenbach continued in that story. “(It) doesn’t mean I will move mountains at the State and Federal levels, but it is a direct correlation to making a difference in our daily lives in Cameron.”
A woman wrote on Facebook, “This one hits a little closer to home. I worked with Emily Ann at Kohl’s years ago. Then she moved to Green Bay and was lp at Cabelas, which had us working even closer. When she became an officer for the Chetek Police Department I was so excited for her. I will miss seeing all the snaps of your loved ones and Harley rides. My heart aches for your family and friends. Thank you for your selfless service. Rest easy my friend. 💙🖤💙”
2. Emily Breidenbach, Who Was Engaged to Be Married & Was the Daughter of a Police Chief, Received a Local Television Station’s Sunshine Award for Her ‘Bubbly, Cheerful Mood’ & Her Efforts to Help the Community
The Pardeeville Fire Department wrote on Facebook, “Many in Pardeeville may remember former Police Chief Robert Breidenbach. His daughter Emily, who followed him into law enforcement, was shot and killed in the line of duty April 8th during a traffic stop in Barron County, WI. Our thoughts are with the Breidenbach family, the family of the other fallen officer involved, and all of our law enforcement brothers and sisters who put it all on the line everyday they wear the uniform.”
In 2019, Breidenbach received a sunshine award from WEAU-TV.
“I really think Emily Breidenbach, of the Chetek Police Department, should get a Sunshine Award. She has been an amazing person. Emily always tries to stop and shoot the breeze with you or if she is sitting, watching the traffic, she will take time out and chat and I think that is really neat of her,” wrote Tessa Anderson, who nominated her.
“If I am in a down mood, Emily always has a way of cheering you up with her smile or her bubbly, cheerful mood. If I ever have questions on something she always has an answer. I want to thank Emily for the friendship as well as all the help and chats. I feel that if I ever need to go and talk to someone when I need help she would be the one that I would feel the most comfortable with. Emily always makes it easy to be yourself and she makes you feel like you’re not just another person in the world. I want to thank her for everything she is doing for not only me, but for the whole community.”
A post on her fiance’s Facebook page indicate they were engaged to be married on March 7, 2023. People have offered condolences on his comment thread.
A friend wrote, “Shane was your everything & wanted to be your partner for life. You were the best at your job, gave 100% & your personality out shined anyone on the force.”
3. Emily Breidenbach & the Other Officer Were Shot & Killed in a Traffic Stop, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Says
In a press release, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) wrote that the DOJ “is investigating an officer involved critical incident in the village of Cameron, Wis. that occurred on the afternoon of Saturday, April 8, 2023.”
At approximately 3:38 p.m., “an officer from Chetek Police Department conducted a traffic stop. During the traffic stop, gunfire was exchanged,” the release said.
“One Chetek Police Officer and one Cameron Police Officer were pronounced deceased at the scene,” according to the release.
On police week 2022, Breidenbach shared a graphic that read, “for all who have given their lives we remember. For all who continue to give their all, we appreciate.”
According to the DOJ press release, the “involved individual was taken to a hospital where they later died. There is no threat to the community.” The suspect has not been named.
4. In 2021, the Chetek Police Department Honored Emily Breidenbach & Another Officer, Calling Them the ‘True Heroes Behind the Badge’
The Chetek Police Department shared a photo of Breidenbach and another officer in 2021, writing, “Today is National Police Woman day, we would like to recognize and celebrate all the contributions female police officers make all around the country. Thank you for all you do but a special thank you to our Chetek Police Women. You are the true heroes behind the badge.”
Other photos on the Chetek Police Department’s Facebook page show Breidenbach helping children and appearing at various community events.
In 2020, Chetek PD wrote on Facebook, “Lieutenant Larson and Officer Breidenbach attended Female Enforcers training seminar in Green Bay. They learned a lot of new techniques and are excited to put them to use throughout their careers and daily lives. We are proud to have these gals with our department!”
5. Tributes Flowed Online for Emily Breidenbach
Tributes flowed for Breidenbach.
“What a kind, loving and tender soul taken way too soon! ❤️ Emily Ann you will forever be missed!” wrote one woman who knew Breidenbach, in a Facebook post.
A woman wrote, “I don’t really know the right words to say right now. As I write this all I keep thinking is it’s just a dream that I will wake up from soon. From the moment we met I knew we would be amazing friends. We stuck by each other through so much! Emily Ann I will forever love you and I promise to never forget about you and all of our crazy fun memories! You went out as an absolute hero but this still doesn’t make it any easier! 💔💔”
Another person made a Facebook reel of Breidenbach reading to children.
One woman wrote that Breidenbach was one of her daughter’s best friends, noting, “Emily Ann paid the ultimate price! 35 forever! You will be fondly remembered forever, we love you! May you rest in peace! God bless you💙”
A woman wrote, “🙏 to both families. Tragic situations like this are so very hard to swallow. These officers go out there on a daily basis to serve and protect. My heart is heavy for everyone involved. Coworkers, EMS, families…and it pulls on the heartstrings a lot more when one of them was our former niece. 💙💙💙 R.I.P. Emily Ann.”
According to the Wisconsin law enforcement officers memorial, the Cameron and Chetek police departments have never lost an officer before. Two officers from the Barron County Sheriff’s Department died in the line of duty previously: Wally L. Larson in 1987 and Matt Olson in 1916. Larson’s squad car “collided head on with a semi tractor-trailer” after he possibly suffered a heart attack, the memorial bio for him says. Olson was shot and killed while attempting to recover a horse from the suspect, the memorial says.
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