After 16 Years, A Community Still Remembers (NBC33 VIDEO)

By Eric DeFreeuw

August 15, 2013 Updated Aug 15, 2013 at 6:46 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.nbc33.com) – It’s been 16 years since his passing, but Officer Eryk Todd Heck is still remembered by the community he so proudly served.

It was August 15th, 1997 and Allen County police officer Eryk Heck had already left his shift for the day when he responded to a search for a suspect wanted in a string of burglaries. At approximately 1:30AM, the suspect was located in a remote area on Fort Wayne’s northwest side.

As the officers approached the suspect to begin questioning him, he began shooting. When a bullet knocked the other officer to the ground, Officer Heck jumped in front of his wounded fellow officer and began shooting back. He was able to shoot and kill the suspect, but not before being shot three times.

He would later die from those injuries.

But even today, 16 years later, it was that bravery and dedication that Sheriff Ken Fries will always remember about Officer Heck.

"When you become a police officer it's more of a calling than anything. And he had a sense of duty to get the job done, it didn't matter whether you were getting paid to do it or not. You go out to get the job done. That's what we are supposed to do, and that's the kind of person he was."

Fries and Heck were very close friends, and memories of that night are still clear in his head.

"It was a devastating loss for all of us that knew him, and the department and community. That's why I think that it's important that citizens remember what officers do everyday. Luckily we don't have a lot of these tragedies, but every day officers are willing to give their lives for people they don't even know."

As a way to honor Heck, a section of Indiana Highway 3 just north of downtown Fort Wayne is named in his honor. The road stretches north from I-69 to the Allen County border.

Heck was 27 years old when he died and was survived by his wife, as well as his 11-month old daughter.

What are your thoughts CLICK HERE to leave us a "QUESTION OF THE DAY” comment.

© Copyright 2016, A Quincy Media broadcasting station. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.