Thousands gather to honor fallen FWC officer in LaBelle

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A memorial service to honor the life of a fallen FWC officer was packed on Monday in LaBelle.

Thousands gathered to remember Julian Keen, who was shot and killed while off-duty on June 14 when he attempted to stop a man for driving recklessly.

Keen received full honors at Monday’s service as the town of LaBelle, fellow officers and loved ones paid tribute to a hometown hero.

“To many of us adults, he showed us what true love was all about. His love was unconditional. He didn’t pick and choose. He loved everyone. He was always willing to do anything for anyone.”

FWC Officer Julian Keen (Credit: FWC)

Those close to Keen shared stories, memories of Keen passed on to a room filled with emotion, a testament to how much he meant to the community.

“This is who he was. He touched every one of us with that smile and that dedication to the job.”

“I knew him from football, from playing ball with my kids,” said Carolyn Ford. “He was somebody that pushed the kids to go and be better.”

Keen was known for befriending kids in the community he served.

“He would take him airboat riding on the swamp, teach him about the environment. I could just go on and on. Teaching him about fishing …” Ford recalled.

Everything Keen did, he did with “love. There was nothing else that he saw,” said Dannielle Rosario, who met Keen through their church youth group.

“He understood that, the meaning of love,” Ford said.

“He didn’t see anything but wonderful people in this world, life. He just wanted everyone to get along and love each other.”

Rosario said her friend was “always smiling, always positive, always giving happiness and love everywhere he went.”

She continued, “I could tell you all day long all the wonderful things about him but unless you met him, there’s not good enough words to explain his precious soul.”

A flyover and 21-gun salute were included in the service, and his family was given an American flag to recognize his dedication and service to the community.

“This town loved him. The town gave to him and he gave back,” Ford said.

A second service is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday in Immokalee at Bethel Ministries International on Main Street.

The man authorities say killed Keen remains in the Hendry County Jail on a charge of manslaughter.

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