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Twice-deployed US Marine vet, WI cop shot and killed while serving warrant

Milwaukee Police Department officers holding memorial service for a fallen officer. (Milwaukee Police Department/Facebook)
February 07, 2019

A police officer and U.S. Marine Corps veteran who had deployed twice was shot and killed while serving a warrant on Wednesday morning in Wisconsin.

Milwaukee police officer Matthew Rittner, 35, was shot while conducting a search warrant, WISN News reported Wednesday.

Rittner was a part of the police force’s Tactical Enforcement Unit. The unit had just made entry into a home suspected of narcotics and firearms activity. A suspect then opened fire using a rifle.

Rittner was struck in the chest, then transported to Froedtert Hospital, where he later died.

Rittner served on the Milwaukee Police Department for 17 years, where he began as a police aide.

He also served two deployments to Iraq during his eight-year career as a reservist in the U.S. Marine Corps. When he deployed from 2004 to 2005, he was a passenger in vehicles struck by roadside bombs three times, and was also in an hours-long gun battle that resulted in the death of a fellow Marine, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

“He was just fearless,” said Ryan Lackey, who was Rittner’s platoon sergeant. “He was a Humvee driver for an entire tour that we drove only unarmored vehicles. If you took a direct hit from an IED or RPG, you were dead. We called them suicide sleds.”

Rittner was a part of the Operation Phantom Fury offensive in Fallujah, Iraq. The area was later deemed “the Triangle of Death.”

“If you were to draw a picture of a United States Marine or draw a picture of a perfect police officer, that would be him,” said Max Zaruba, a friend of Rittner’s who served with him in Iraq.

Rittner received various medals and awards for his law enforcement service, including for one incident in 2015 during which he freed hostages being held by a gunman.

“The tactical team raced down the stairwell to save the hostages from the gunman,” the commendation says. “This group’s bravery and courage demonstrated their commitment to the citizens.”

“Officer Rittner is the third officer we have lost in the line of duty during a short eight-month period after going approximately 22 years without a line of duty death,” the Milwaukee Police Department said in a press release. “Yet again, we are mourning the loss of another dedicated member.”

“This officer was well-loved by everyone on the department,” said Assistant Police Chief Michael Brunson, according to Fox News.

“I am filled with sorrow over this needless loss,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “He was doing his job. He was working to make our city safer. And he died. And he died because an individual decided that rather than allowing the police to do their work lawfully, that he would kill this police officer.”

Rittner leaves behind a wife and a young child.