SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. - The family of an officer killed in St. Joseph nearly 17 years ago says her heart goes out to the family of Officer Tom Decker, who was killed in the line of duty late Thursday in Cold Spring.
"(I am) thinking about the family the most," said Wendy Klinefelter-Tragiai. "I know that when we found out he had died. I knew that Brian was there and welcoming him to heaven. And he's in good hands."
On Jan. 29, 1996, Brian Klinefelter, an officer with the St. Joseph Police Department, was shot and killed after he stopped a car with three robbery suspects inside.
Klinefelter left behind his wife, Wendy, and their 3-month-old daughter, Caitlin.
"(It was) an overwhelming, all-consuming grief as well as shock," Klinefelter-Tragiai said about that day.
But she said she found support and comfort in the extended family she found in law enforcement.
"Law enforcement truly is a family onto its own. And when you go through something like this, you're a part of it now," she said.
She believes Decker's family will find that to be true as well, especially in the difficult days ahead.
"It will be there for her. It's what got myself and my family through it. As well as leaning on each other," she said.
Klinefelter-Tragiai married John Tragiai in 2000. Caitlin now has a younger brother and sister.
The family also runs a police supply shop -- K.E.E.P.R.S, Inc. -- along with Brian Klinefelter's brothers.
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