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15-year-old Madison wants to create a memorial garden for fallen officer — and she needs your help

Posted at 12:52 AM, May 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-10 01:44:49-04

BATAVIA, Ohio — If West Clermont High School freshman Madison East gets her way, Det. Bill Brewer will have a permanent monument in the county he died serving. The 15-year-old’s memorial garden project, which started as a bid to earn her Girl Scouts Gold Award, became one she’s determined to finish for the good of her community.

“I want to have a gathering place that you could just feel like family,” she said, adding she feels driven to honor Brewer’s memory “because he sacrificed his life to protect ours.”

Brewer, 42, left behind a wife and a 5-year-old son when he was shot to death Feb. 2. He had been part of a team responding to a Pierce Township man’s false claim his apartment was being burglarized — and he became a casualty when that man, 23-year-old Wade Winn, turned a gun on first responders who attempted to enter the apartment, according to Clermont County Prosecutor Darren Miller.

Winn, who livestreamed part of the standoff on Instagram, was charged with two counts of aggravated murder and 12 of attempted aggravated murder. The state of Ohio intends to seek the death penalty in his 2020 trial. First responders who had known Brewer throughout his decades-long law enforcement career leaned on one another for support at the detective’s funeral.

East didn’t know Brewer personally, but she remembers seeing him around. She also has law enforcement workers in her immediate family, she said.

“I want them to feel like it's okay to show their true emotion instead of having the 'cop face' that everybody knows,” she said.

She has the memorial garden’s layout planned already: A stone pathway leading to a swinging bench surrounded by white spirea, pink coneflowers and flowering Judd viburnum. A landscaper from Bzak Cincinnati helped her design mock-ups showing how it would look in its intended location outside the Batavia Community Center.

All she needs to make it happen is help from the rest of her community. Completing the garden will cost $5,000, a total she hopes to raise over the summer.

She’d like to have the project completed by Aug. 5, she added. Then, on National Night Out, police officers hosting community events can stop by for a moment of reflection on Brewer’s legacy.

“I would think he would say that he was really proud of everybody that helped out,” she said.

Anyone interested in donating to her project can do so via GoFundMe.