KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A vigil was held at the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office (KCSO) on Sunday evening, as attendees remembered Deputy Ryan Proxmire as a hero, saying he not only dedicated his life to law enforcement, but also his family, friends and community.
You could see local first responers light up the street outside KCSO headquarters, as multiple police agencies and dozens of community members who did not know Deputy Proxmire also showed up, with everyone saying they just want to support his loved ones at this time.
"Our community as a whole suffers a tragic loss of a hero of someone who has dedicated his life, to his family, to his career, and to this community," said Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller. "And we recognize everybody that is here tonight to show their love and respect for our friend, and hero, Ryan Proxmire."
KCSO is urging the community to support and protect Proxmire’s loved ones during this time.
“Look to your left, look to your right,” said Sheriff Fuller. “Remember that it's a team. It's a team that gets families through these things. It's a team that gets the community through these things. And it's a team that we have to rely on.”
That support was not only present at the vigil, with a steady stream of people showing up to Bronson Hospital this morning and staying into the afternoon, as everyone waited to hear more about Proxmire's condition.
Joey Byrd, a former reserve police officer who helped organize the vigil and now owns T&J towing, was hit hard by Dep. Proxmire's death and wanted to show his admiration for first responders across multiple departments.
“It hit me pretty bad," Byrd said. "I have a lot of friends that are friends with Deputy Proxmire and I have heard nothing but good things about him. It’s just very upsetting of what happened. As you can tell, it’s hitting the community a lot...I will always bleed blue and I will always back law enforcement. I have numerous friends that are police officers, fire department, I mean with towing, you go hand in hand with law enforcement and fire and we always have each other backs.”
Byrd reiterated that he's head "nothing but good things" from his friends in law enforcement about Proxmire.
“I’m really hoping that it opens the eyes of the public that… we’re all people,” said Byrd. “We just all gotta be there for each other.”
When the Sheriff's Office announced his passing, local law enforcement drove him through town, their lights flashing in his honor.
Along with serving Kalamazoo County, Dep. Proxmire also worked for the county's road patrol, in the jail division and filled in as a temporary sergeant when needed.
KCSO called him an experienced and professional officer, who also took roles as a field training officer among other things.
Throughout the day (Sunday, August 15), the sheriff's office has continued to call on the community to support and protect the family Dep. Proxmire leaves behind.
Fox 17 will make viewers aware of any community fundraisers put together in the weeks ahead.