BATAVIA, Ohio — At the end of a long list of thank-yous to other first responders, expressions of support for mourners and professions of grief for those who attended the funeral of Det. Bill Brewer, Clermont County Sheriff Steve Leahy had two words for shooting suspect Wade Winn: “Screw you.”
Leahy, who described Winn only as “some dirtbag” and “the —hole in my jail,” said he would have used even stronger language if not for the children present in Mt. Carmel Christian Church that afternoon.
Among them was Brewer’s 5-year-old son, who lost his father to a Feb. 2 standoff that became a shooting at a Pierce Township apartment complex. Police said Winn, 23, called 911 to report a burglary and refused to leave his apartment when responders arrived.
Growing increasingly paranoid that responding deputies were there to harm him once he revealed he was armed, Winn fired. The shots struck Lt. Nick DeRose, who survived, and Brewer, who did not. Both had been attempting to enter his apartment because they believed he was suicidal.
Winn would later be arrested. He was charged with aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder, and prosecutors said they intended to seek the death penalty.
Brewer’s death numbered among just four events that brought Leahy to tears in the last three decades, he said at Friday’s service. The others were the deaths of his parents and the birth of his son.
“I apologize if I don’t get through this without breaking down,” he told the crowd of mourners. “I’ve been getting asked a lot lately, ‘How are you doing? Are you sleeping? Are you eating? Are you taking care of yourself?’
“And the answer is ‘No, not at all.’ Just like all of you, how can I not be when I know that Bill’s family is not OK and my staff is not OK?”
He described Brewer as the type of deputy he would have wanted to help his own family if they were ever in danger.
"Bill is gone from us today, but his life and service will never be forgotten," Leahy said.
As the funeral procession wound its way to Pierce Township Cemetery Friday, it passed hundreds of people who lines the roads with blue ribbons and American flags. One of them, Jennifer Harcourt, said she went to high school with Brewer for a year.
"He was a great guy," she said.
Sarah Gadbury also watched the procession going by, holding a sign that read, "Honoring the ultimate sacrifice." She's friends with DeRose, and they are the godparents of each other's children.
"It's sort of surreal," she said. "It's good to see all the people who came out to support our law enforcement and the people who put their lives on the lines every day."
Linda Rathbone watched the procession from the Wilfert Drive overpass.
"It's a tragedy," she said. "It's heartbreaking."
The community rallied in support of Brewer's family and legacy in the days after his death. More than 1,500 people, including Gov. Mike DeWine, attended Brewer's public visitation on Thursday.
A former police officer who now owns a T-shirt shop is printing shirts to raise money for Brewer’s family. Williamsburg Middle School and High School is hosting a spaghetti dinner fundraiser from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday.
Authorities said anyone interested in giving to Brewer's family can drop donations off at any Park National Bank under "The Bill Brewer Memorial Fund," or mail them to Park National Bank at 1187 Ohio Pike, Amelia, Ohio 45102.
Residents wishing to pay tribute to the fallen deputy can sign an online tribute wall on the funeral home’s obituary page by clicking here.