Artists, community honor fallen officer with mural in LaBelle

Reporter: Andrea Guerrero Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

A mural for Officer Julian Keen, 30, was revealed in Southwest Florida Thursday. Keen was shot and killed making a traffic stop while off duty. He proudly served his community with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Artists Caesar Aguilar and Brian Weaver created the mural in Keen’s honor in LaBelle, the community’s tribute to their hometown hero.

“I said, ‘How amazing would it be to be able to walk in and out of my place of employment every day and see that beautiful face and just look at him and honor him in that way,’” Amy Tanner said.

FWC Officer Keen was shot and killed when he tried to stop a hit-and-run suspect. Eliceo Hernandez, 20, is accused of killing Keen.

“It was very devastating not just for my family, but the whole town,” Tanner said. “He just brought love to this town and was very uplifting to all of us.”

Since his murder, LaBelle has created a scholarship in Keen’s name, offered donations to his family and now unveiled artwork along Thompson Street.

“I get chills just looking at it every time I come by the mural,” Aguilar said. “Everyone in the community talks about him, how much love he has, how much he did for the community.”

Aguilar and Weaver met with the Keen family to ensure this mural captured the essence of the man.

“We need more people like this,” Weaver said. “Hopefully, this mural inspires people to really be kind and follow in his footsteps.”

Keen is gone but not forgotten. His family and friends plan to gather in LaBelle Friday for the official unveiling of the mural.

“He’s not here with us, but he’s here with us, so it means a lot,” Tanner said.

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