DETROIT (WWJ) – Thoughts of grief and sympathy pouring into Detroit’s 9th Precinct after the loss of one of their own.
Ken Steil, a 17-year veteran of the department, died Saturday after being shot in the shoulder by a suspect with a sawed-off shotgun.
Steil, 46, is the first police officer to die in the line of duty in Detroit since Chief James Craig took over in 2013.
He was shot at a gas station on the city’s east side on Sept. 12 and originally it was thought that Steil was expected to survive. He was taken to St. John Hospital where he was reported to be in fair condition at the time.
A week later, the Detroit Police Department inviting people touched by his death to decorate the fallen officer’s squad car.
Mark Diaz, president of the Detroit Police Officers Association, visited Steil in the hospital and said he was in good spirits — expecting to leave the hospital soon.
“He was doing well, smiling and then we got word that he had passed, it absolutely just floored us all,” said Diaz.
The family is grateful for all of the support they have received.
“We’re going to get together … it’s a collaborative effort, to ensure that the legacy of ‘shark’ as he was so affectionately referred to — will carry on,” said Diaz.
Steil was known as ‘shark’ because of his love for diving, especially with sharks.
Rev. Charles Williams II met with Sgt. Steil in the hospital and says we need to learn from this tragedy.
“I had the opportunity to meet him, we prayed, I met with his family and his spirits were up,” said Williams.
“I believe this is an opportunity for us really to open up and walk closer, and tighter and lockstep against the issues that cause violence in our community.”