Funeral held Monday for retired Zumbrota police officer

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(ABC 6 News) – The funeral for retired Zumbrota police officer, Gary Schroeder Jr. was held Monday.

In the town he served – hundreds came out to pay their respects, including law enforcement and emergency responders from all parts of the state.

The service started at 11:00 a.m. and was held at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Zumbrota.

RELATED: Zumbrota PD mourns loss of former officer

According to Zumbrota Police, Schroeder Jr. died of suicide on April 17. He fought a hard and courageous battle against PTSD attained in the line of duty.

He was a proud father, he was generous and caring, and he was actively working to help first responders struggling with their mental health, said friends and colleagues.

They say that’s why his death, is extremely difficult.

“He was so many things to different people during his life here on Earth. What does matter is remembering how blessed we truly were for being part of his journey,” said Schroeder’s younger sister, Beth, at the funeral.

The 46-year-old served for 18 years before he was forced to medically retire in 2020 due to his ongoing battle with PTSD, a battle he lost last week.

“The last week has been hard, we lost a good man,” said Chief Tim Frank of the Zumbrota Fire Department. “First responders all the people that have to deal with the stressful situations of their job…PTSD is a bad thing.”

Schroeder volunteered with ZFD for almost nine years in addition to being a police officer.

Now, those who loved him, who knew him, or even just who understand that battle are working to spread awareness for first responders who are struggling.

According to the Minnesota Public Safety Wellness Initiative, the number of duty disability applications filed by Minnesota public safety professionals has more than doubled since 2019 and 80% of these applications are PTSD-related.

“We all are aware of the dangers of this profession and we all go to work everyday aware of these dangers. When there’s a death, we have to rethink that, but tomorrow all of these officers in their grief are going to put their uniforms on and go back and serve their communities with high honor and dignity,” said Brian Hubbard, the President of the MN Law Enforcement Memorial Association.

The hundreds of first responders gathered in Zumbrota Monday are hoping more can be done to help people like Gary.

“When you see an officer in the Kwik trip, at the grocery store, walking down the street, a ‘thank you for’ their service and the sacrifice they give goes a long way,” added Hubbard.

People of Zumbrota now seeing Gary’s sacrifice first hand as they said goodbye one last time.

Zumbrota Police shared the following statement on its social media last Tuesday:

“It is with deep sadness that the Zumbrota Police Department announces the death of retired Police Officer Gary Schroeder Jr, age 46. Gary faithfully served the community for 18 years before medically retiring at the end of 2020. In addition to serving with the Police Department, Gary served as a member of the Zumbrota Fire Department for many years. Gary fought a hard and courageous battle against PTSD attained in the line of duty. Gary died of suicide on April 17th, 2023. He will be fondly remembered for his hearty laugh and his deep love for his community. The Officers of the Zumbrota Police Department express our sincerest condolences to the Schroeder family, Gary’s friends and all of those who were blessed by his presence.”

Zumbrota Police Department

Sunday and Monday, the Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office has been patrolling and responding to calls within the city of Zumbrota to allow for those officers to grieve and mourn the loss of Officer Schroeder.

ZPD will resume operations at 9 p.m. Monday.

Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church provided a livestream of the service, HERE.