Sedgwick County community reaches out to Kunze family

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Roses left before the Wichita/Sedgwick County Law Enforcement Memorial in honor of Deputy Robert Kunze. Roses left before the Wichita/Sedgwick County Law Enforcement Memorial in honor of Deputy Robert Kunze.

Tuesday was a day of mourning and planning for those who loved Deputy Robert Kunze of the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office.  His family remains out of the public eye, planning their last goodbyes.  His co-workers continue to do their jobs. 

As news of Kunze's death spreads across the country, condolences from Seattle to New Hampshire are pouring in for those left behind.

"It's a brave thing.  It's a very brave thing.  And it matters," said Joann House, a Wichitan who's mourning for Kunze and his family.

Robert Kunze died Sunday after responding to a suspicious character call in western Sedgwick County.  He was trying to handcuff the suspect, the sheriff says, when a scuffle broke out ending in the shooting that killed both Kunze and the suspect.

As the investigation continues into exactly what happened Sunday afternoon, the news of Kunze's death is making national headlines.

On the Officer Down Memorial web page hundreds have left messages of love and support for Kunze's family.  Even visitors to Wichita are thinking of his family at this time.

"It's a horrible, horrible thing, but I thank you for your services," said Barrie Leahy, who's visiting Wichita from Seattle, speaking to Kunze's family. "You've given so dearly from your time and your family and now your losses."

Joann House says she's been crying for days over the news of Kunze's death.  She wants Sedgwick County Sheriff's deputies who kept doing their jobs after his death Sunday to know she appreciates their dedication and their work.

"And I want them to know that in our family and in our hearts we really appreciate what they're going through and what they've done," House said.  "And I hope they don't give up."

Ciaban Peterson is a U.S. veteran and says he knows the pain of lost comrades and of having to continue doing a job while mourning.

"I know how tough it is to lose someone really close and just want to be there for them," Ciaban said.

He, too, wants Sedgwick County Sheriff's officers to know he's behind them.

"Even though you still have to go out and do your thing in the field, we really appreciate what you're doing," he said.

Retired Sheriff's Lieutenant Lin Dehning worked with Kunze for several years. He says the deputy is exactly the man you've heard about in every tribute, a professional law enforcement officer who wanted only to help others.  He says those who loved and respected Kunze need all the support the public is offering.

"We always appreciate that type of support from the public and from the community," Dehning said.  "And I hope that the community realizes that not only was this a tragic, tragic loss for his family, but this was also a tragic loss for the community." 

If you have a message for the Kunze family you can mail it to the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office at 141 W. Elm, Wichita, Kansas 67203. The sheriff says anything mailed to his office will be sent on to Kunze's wife and child.