The LaBelle community remembered the life of fallen FWC Officer Julian Keen Wednesday night during a candlelight vigil in his honor. Community members let go of hundreds of floating lanterns in his memory.
Friends say he always had a smile on his face, and they say his death is a major loss. But they are making sure he has a lasting legacy on the community he served.
“If he saw somebody that broke down or something, he would get out of his car and try to help people,” said Delores Keen, Julian’s mother. “That’s all he ever did since he was a little boy, and now he’s gone.”
“He didn’t care who you were,” Carli Spencer said. “He was always there for you, no matter what.”
“It represents him and his family,” Fanice Thomas said. “When it says be like him, be encouraging, and nice and kind to people. Help people.”
“He was a superhero, and he’d always come to the call,” Corey Raborn said. “We didn’t have a light to shine in the air. But he was always there.”
“His legacy was just to overcome,” said. “He never gave up on his dreams.”
“He helped a lot of people,” Marvell Thomas said.
Keen was Labelle’s son looking out for everyone’s sons and daughters.
“I ran into him at the grocery store a couple weeks ago,” Brittney Mayo said. “He was talking about all the things he was gonna do to her boyfriend if he ever broke her heart.”
“He didn’t have everything, and I think that he wanted them to have something he didn’t,” Spencer said. “Someone they can turn to at any given time. It didn’t matter.”
Labelle lost someone who was already its angel.
“A life lost way too soon,” Tom Super said. “A lie of somebody that’s given his life to help others.”
Keen was shot and killed in LaBelle after he responded to a reckless driver while he was off duty.
“It still hurts,” Spencer said.
“We’d like to name the boat ramp after him,” Raborn said. “We’re talking about having the high school football field named after him and a road.”
Julian Keen is a name LaBelle will always remember.
“Somebody that was that instrumental, for only being able to have a short 30 years here, he was an angel,” Raborn said. “There’s no other explanation.”