An officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) was shot and killed in LaBelle early Sunday.
Authorities said 30-year-old Julian Keen Jr. was off-duty in the area of Nobles Road and Apache Circle when he was shot. This is near the intersection of SR-78.
The Hendry County Sheriff’s Office said three people have been detained and are currently being questioned.
Keen had been with the FWC since 2014.
It is with heavy hearts that we confirm the tragic death of Officer Julian Keen. Our thoughts are with his friends and family during this difficult time. #Officer #Florida #LawEnforcement pic.twitter.com/SJdgwqcQ5S
— MyFWC (@MyFWC) June 14, 2020
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is assisting with the investigation.
“This was a heartbreaker. It hit me personally and it hit this community personally,” said Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden.
“It’s not just the fact that he was law enforcement. It was the fact that he was a friend. and everyone that has ever worked with him came out to pay their respects to their family and of course, the community.”
More @winknews photos in Labelle. pic.twitter.com/RZnItXDevh
— Rich Kolko (@RichKolko) June 14, 2020
Keen grew up in Southwest Florida, moving from Immokalee to LaBelle when he was a teen. He played football there before going on to play at Webber International University in Babson Park, Florida. The WIU athletics website says Keen transferred there in 2010 from College of the Desert in California. Keen was named 2007 South-Central All-Star Defensive MVP, the site says.
Close friends and family of the victim spoke to WINK about the life they believe was cut short. “He had so much heart. So much virtue and integrity,” said Christopher Wills, one of Keen’s close friends.
The victim’s cousin, Markease Williams, is “torn apart right now.”
Deloris Keen, Julian’s mother, said her son was one of the good ones. “My son was too good for them to even come back here and shoot him.”
People in LaBelle seem to agree that Keen brought the community together and that they’re hurt that his life was taken. “He touched this entire town. Anyone and everyone who has ever talked to Julian knows that he is just a ray of sunlight in a dark world,” Wills said.
“He never had a problem with anybody. He never hurt nobody. He never did nothing wrong. Everybody loved him. He brung the whole community together,” Williams said.
His mom described her son as always being a helper, so she simply can’t believe someone would want to harm him. “If he saw somebody that broke down or something, he would get out of his car and try to help people. That’s all he ever did since he was a little boy and now he’s gone.”
“He really was one of the greats. He was the best of us,” Wills said.
A vigil has been planned for Keen on Wednesday, June 17, at 8 p.m. at Barron Park in LaBelle.
Friends have been flooding Facebook with memories of Keen and messages of shock over his death:
“RIP to one of the good ones. A great one. Julian Keen was one of the best humans on the planet. Kind and funny. So generous and sweet. Always ready to help out. You are so loved, by so many. Our hearts are broken. Our thoughts are with your family.” – Danika J. Forenear
“The world lost a good friend last night! Julian Keen was great dude, I remember the first time we started talking years ago, I said something about his name because Julian is my son James Mckellar’s name and it was also my Grandpa’s name the original JJ McCoy! He would come out every time I played in Labelle, he always struck me as EVERYONE’S friend! We will miss you my friend R.I.P. Julian.” – JJ McCoy
“One of the curses of being from a small town is when we lose one of our own the whole town hurts Julian Keen – you were quite possibly the friendliest person on earth. You did just about anything to get a smile out of someone. My mom loved you so much (probs more than me). For anyone that didn’t know him – he would have been your friend the second you met him. There are a lot of broken hearts this morning.” – Bianca McGinley